Alabama Cotton Outcome: Not Surprisingly, Quality Takes A Hit

    Defoliated cotton field ready for picking. Photo: Lance Clemmons, GW Farms.

    Situation. The initial (August) USDA estimate for Alabama predicted an average yield of 981 lb/A. September and October brought downward adjustments to 976 and 960 lb/A, respectively, while this week’s November report lowered the estimate further to 890 lb/A. My guess is that the average will decline closer to 850 lb/A. FSA cotton sign-up (see below) is tallied at almost 445,000 acres. As of November 1, 2020, ginnings were 135,650 bales compared to 334,750 and 230,950 for the prior two years on the same date.

    There’s a saying, “Good crops keep getting better and better,” as harvest and ginnng proceeds, meaning that in a really good year, yield numbers rise as the season progresses. The opposite is true for “bad crops.” In many places the 2020 crop was quite good but has declined considerably, largely because of Laura, Sally, Delta, and Eta, as well as extended periods of overcast, drizzly weather during what is normally our driest period. Hard lock, boll rot, wind, and rain have taken a big toll on our crop.

    Quality-wise, the crop actually looks better than it should, but one glaring point is the extraneous matter call of seed coat fragments. The season total for bales classed with seed coat fragments exceeds 7 percent and will likely go higher. This reflects the severe weathering on an open crop with relatively mild temperatures. It suggests a lot of seed sprouting and a general decline of seed integrity and quality.  (Brown)




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