Cotton growers running between raindrops to finish harvest

Cotton growers running between raindrops to finish harvest

Weekend rain slows some Delta cotton harvesting. Cold front expected to bring rain Wednesday through Thursday.

Arkansas’ cotton producers are running between the raindrops as they work to get harvest finished.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a slow-moving cold front is expected to bring rain on Wednesday and Thursday.

“This looks to be the best chance for a widespread, significant rain that Arkansas has seen in quite some time,” John Robinson, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS at Little Rock, said Tuesday. “Rainfall amounts were expected to average .5 to 1.5 inches, and there could be a few totals exceeding 2 inches.”

Rain and cotton bolls don’t mix. A hard rain can make the bolls stringy and difficult to harvest, and in some cases, knock the bolls to the ground.

“The rain we received Sunday -- about an inch -- slowed harvest considerably,” Robert Goodson said Tuesday. Goodson is Phillips and Lee county Extension agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

“There was no activity Monday due to the wet cotton, but with the sunshine yesterday afternoon and again this morning things will get back to going this afternoon. Here in Phillips County more than 90 percent of the crop has been harvested. Another good week and it will all be over -- at least with the cotton crop.”

Farmers in Mississippi County took full advantage of the thus-far dry fall.

“Some Mississippi County farmers have just finished picking the last of their 2011 crop” while others are still working to get the remaining half of their crop from the fields, said Dave Freeze, Mississippi County Extension staff chair. “Overall we have had a dry, warm September and October to help speed up maturation of a generally late crop. The weather has also been very favorable for farmers to defoliate and get their cotton out of the field.”

According to the Arkansas Crop Progress and Condition Report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending Oct. 23, 74 percent of the state’s cotton crop has been harvested with 100 percent of the crop showing opened bolls.

Rice was 100 percent ripe and 91 percent harvested. Sorghum harvest was complete. The soybean harvest has moved along quickly in a week, with 62 percent harvested, up from 49 percent the previous week and in line with the 63 percent five-year average. Winter wheat is 47 percent planted and 16 percent emerged.

Pasture and range are still showing the effects of too little water with only 12 percent considered in good condition, 36 percent fair, 28 percent poor and 24 percent very poor. None were considered to be in excellent condition.

For more information about crop production, contact your county Extension office, or visit

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