Could Mid-South farmers have asked for a better harvest season than they’ve had this year?
As if to atone for last year’s monsoon-plagued autumn that kept farmers out of the fields and played the devil with yields/quality, this year has brought day after day, week after week of bright sun and rain of no consequence.
Except for a fast-moving front that whooshed through Tuesday, Oct. 12, with strong winds and freakishly heavy hail that covered the ground shoe-top high in a number of places, the online weather sites have shown nothing but day after day of smiley sun icons.
Most corn has long been out of the fields and that land already prepared for next year. Ditto for rice. Harvesting of soybeans has been proceeding apace.
For weeks now, gin yards have been covered with cotton — many of them with a goodly number of the new round John Deere modules and the CaseIH half-modules — and fields everywhere have rows of modules waiting to be picked up by gin trucks.
Despite this summer’s record temperatures and lack of rainfall, crop yields have been, in most cases, better than growers were expecting, and prices for the region’s crops have been good to absolutely astounding.
The latter category, of course, is cotton. The dollar cotton that has been the Holy Grail for the lifetime of most farmers has finally arrived.
And miraculously, some farmers have reeled in that dollar price, thanks to exceptionally high yields that left them with unbooked cotton that they could sell immediately.
Talk about smiles and coffee-shop bragging!
If ever there was a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes story, it has been this year’s cotton crop compared to the abysmal crop of 2009.
I have seen, this season, perhaps some of the finest, most spectacularly gorgeous fields of cotton ever in the Mid-South: astoundingly beautiful cotton, absolutely loaded from top to bottom — the kind of crop every cotton farmer dreams of, the kind that makes every farmer wish he grew cotton (more especially, when it’s dollar cotton).
Farmers who were expecting earlier in the summer to get two to two and half bales have been getting three bales or better. There have been more than a few reports of four bales or better.
Growing and harvest weather aside, much of the credit for this year’s bountiful cotton crop doubtless goes to the high performance varieties now available and the built-in technologies that bring out the best in a cotton plant.
While growers grouse about seed prices and technology fees, bumper yields and great prices can quickly turn those frowns upside down.
An interesting side note for this year’s crop has been the number of new cotton pickers with onboard module builders in fields throughout the area. Those machines represent a sizable investment, particularly in a period when cotton’s fortunes and acreages have been in the dumps — an indication of the optimism that farmers and ginners have for the future of the crop.