Cotton crop woes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cotton crop woes

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November 14, 2002

Sumter County -- After four years of drought, Southwest Georgia farmers are now being hurt by too much rain. Five inches of rain this week for many have farmers scrambling to harvest their peanut and cotton crops. The heavy rains this week have cotton farmers watching the quality of their crop falling.

"This cotton should have been harvested three weeks ago." Cotton farmer Gil Pace is glad to see the sun shining on his 600 acres of cotton. All his cotton harvesters sit idle. The field is again too wet to work, because of heavy rains.

Pace said "It's been one of the worst harvest seasons I've ever seen since I've been farming, as far as trying to get a crop harvested." This week's heavy rain knocked much of his crop off the plant into the mud, ruining it.

Pace said "We are in danger of losing a lot of money on it." The drought over the summer months forced most cotton farmers to irrigate their fields. Now the rains have come at the wrong time, forcing them to postpone harvesting. And the quality of the crop is taking a beating.

Pace said "It deteriorates every time it rains on it. You can see the seed here. And over a period of time that seed will begin to germinate and it will be real hard to gin the cotton at that time. It's got a lot of green matter in it."

The rain and harvest delays have lowered Pace's yield. The thousand to 13-hundred pound yields per acre now are more likely to be 800 pounds per acre. The fibers are discolored and the fibers have deteriorated. That lower quality will cut the price it brings. Pace says many South Georgia farmers have the same problem.

Pace says the profit margin for most farmers is so thin, the recent rains could force some out of business. "We got a lot of farmers in the area that have experienced another bad year, and I'm afraid a lot of 'em won't be in business next year."

Pace said his field should be dry enough to work by Friday, but he is worried long range forecast rain over the weekend could set him back again.

Cotton prices on the New York market are 47 and a half cents a pound. In 1866 cotton sold for 50 cents a pound.

posted at 3:36 by jimw@walb.com