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By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture Fast facts
(Newsrooms: ‘May 40th’ reference in fast facts bullet, grafs 11-12, are CQ; With art at https://www.flickr.com/photos/uacescomm/20657731788)
NEWPORT, Ark. -- Despite a slow, rainy start to the planting season, Arkansas’ small
cotton crop is looking good, but there are “still a lot of bears out in the woods,”
said Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture.
“A lot can happen between now and harvest time,” he said Monday.
Earlier this month, the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Agriculture
Department issued its nationwide crop forecast. The forecast for Arkansas included
a record high yield of 1,226 pounds of lint per acre from 235,000 harvested acres,
a record low number.
“Arkansas’ planted acreage is down at least 95,000 acres from last year, or about
28 percent. Since January, the December futures contract has traded between 61 and
68 cents,” said Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture. “Even without the rain delays we had this spring, cotton
prices were low enough to reduce acreage.”
Robertson said he had a “hard time arguing with those numbers right now.”
However, there are differences in the estimate for harvested acres. For example, the
Boll Weevil Eradication Program counts 200,335 acres and Farm Service Agency’s figures
are 5,200 acres different from the boll weevil program figures. The differences are
attributed to variations in counting methods. “One might be a little high, one might
be a little low.”
“When I look at the crop we have now, it looks as good or better than last year,”
he said. With the weather becoming more moderate, “we’ll still have a fairly good
Seed-per-boll numbers were a little off from the past few years, and “we might not
beat last year by very much or we might come up a little shy,” Robertson said.
Growers could begin harvest as early as mid- to late-September, and most growers should
have their picking machinery deployed by the first of October.
The crop had a lot of catching up to do, as spring rain kept planters out. Robertson
cited the problems faced in Poinsett County, which is usually No. 5 among the state’s
“Poinsett County was extremely hard hit with rains in May and we couldn’t get in to
get planted,” he said. “We were at May 40th and still wanting to plant and weather forced some growers to switch to another crop.”
May 40th? “Because we don’t plant cotton in June,” Robertson said with a chuckle.
Persistent rain also prevented growers from putting out herbicide and encouraged seedling
disease, which made for thin stands for some growers.
Growers spent the summer battling pressure from plant bugs that were higher in number
due to the higher amounts of corn and grain sorghum in surrounding fields. As these
crops mature and plant bug numbers build, they move into cotton.
“When you’re surrounded by corn and other crops, it’s very difficult to get on top
of it” especially when farmers look at the cost of control and other investments in
the crop and price at which the crop can be sold, Robertson said.
To learn more about cotton production, contact your county agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible
persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national
origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information,
or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org