Cotton yield cut in half - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cotton yield cut in half

August 29, 2006

Thomas County-  The best forecast for south Georgia's cotton farmers is fair thanks to mother nature's scorching summer heat. Recent rain showers came too late for many crops, that must be harvested soon before the best of the crop is lost. Many farmers are expected to lose more than half of their cotton crop.

Hot summer temperatures and little rain have taken their toll on this years cotton crop.

"You've got a partial crop on one end, you've got maybe a good crop on the other end. Each field has it's own characteristics this year," said Ken Hickey, a cotton farmer.

Many fields planted in April were far enough along that recent rains aren't helping. Plants that normally produce 12 to 15 bolls of cotton have only two.

"We have open bowls on the bottom we have some bowls that are mature and would probably pop open, just a couple, with the material we will spray on to defoliate it and open those mature bolls," said Don Clark, Thomas Co. Extension Services Coordinator.

To give you some idea, you shouldn't be able to walk down the rows in this field of cotton.  The cotton should be up canopied over top and the rows, barely visible.

"If we were to wait on the crop that's in the top of the plant we would loose this and the bottom crop is more valuable to us than the top crop," said Clark.

So farmers may have to take what they can get this year.

"It's going to be tough, a lot of them won't be able to pay their expenses on the crop, a lot of them won't even break even on their cash outlay let alone the depreciation on their equipment," said Clark.

The best many can expect is only half of their normal yield.

"We're hoping that we can just survive,"  said Hickey.

Because last weeks disaster declaration only adds up to help obtaining a low interest loan. Many farmers say the last thing they need now is more debt.

Costs to produce this years crop has also increased. The price for a bag of cotton seed rose to around 500-dollars and fuel for harvesting machines is nearly double last year's price.

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