Alabama Cotton: Abundant Boll Rot, Hardlock from Excessive Rains

The initial (August) USDA estimate for Alabama cotton predicted an average yield of 981 lb/A with a total of 950,000 bales from 465,000 acres. The September report had downward adjustments in acres planted (450,000), average yield (976 lb/A), and total bales (905,000).

Hurricane Sally roared into the Alabama Gulf Coast on September 16, and in contrast to frequent post-hurricane weather, rain and overcast conditions persisted for 10-plus days afterwards, adding to boll rot and hardlock which were already in abundance. Prior to Sally, Laura affected parts of North Alabama. Behind Sally, on October 9-10, came Delta dumping rain on a lot of cotton.

The October 9 USDA report predicted yields of 960 lb/A from 445,000 acres harvested for a total of 890,000 bales. Keep in mind that the BWEP reported slightly under 405,000 planted acres.

We’ve seen a few really good fields, some already picked, but overall the crop has been punished by poor conditions in what are typically our driest weeks. Persisting overcast, wet weather and periodic rains have delayed defoliation and harvest. We’re behind.

The later crop has generally fared better than the earlier planted. Sunshine may brighten and improve a crop that once was well above average, but I suspect yields from planted acreage may fall below 850 lb/A and 775,000 bales.




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