Alabama's Drought Damaged Cotton Crop Southeast's Lowest

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Crop experts say the state's cotton harvest ranks as the lowest production in the Southeast, with some fields not even worth picking.

Rain helped produced an average harvest near the coast, according to growers, but in cotton-rich north Alabama, the crop is described as "very poor," with yields falling below the break-even level for growers.

Cotton expert Charles Burmester at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System research center in Belle Mina says the bolls are on the plants, but because of the scorching heat they didn't develop properly and make the outlook "pretty bleak."

Burmester said North Alabama got some rain in July, but then it stopped and the Tennessee Valley area had two weeks of 100-degree-plus weather.

While cotton is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, this summer's heat and a persistent drought proved a devastating mix.

Statewide, it was the driest on record from January through August, according to federal weather data.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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