Cotton bolls open Photo by Olivia McClure, LSU AgCenter

An open cotton boll is ready to be picked at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria. Cotton farmers were expected to complete their harvest by the end of October with lower yields compared to last year’s crop because of the flooding rains in August.

Weather reduces Louisiana cotton crop

By the end of October, Louisiana cotton producers are expected to have completed harvesting this year’s crop.

Based on reports, the flooding rains of August had a significant impact on the crop, especially in the central part of the state.

Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter cotton specialist, said yields are down across the board in the central Louisiana.

Open cotton boll“The yields are very variable in central Louisiana — anywhere from 500 to 600 pounds, and some fields in excess of two bales,” Fromme said.

Yields in the northeastern part of the state, where a good deal of the state’s cotton crop is grown, are expected to be much higher.

“Yields there are just fantastic, well over 1,000 pounds with reports of 1,200 to 1,300 pounds of lint to the acre,” Fromme said.

According to Fromme, this year’s statewide average yield is will be around 900 pounds per acre, which is approximately 100 pounds lower than last year.

Rain not only reduced yields but also caused some quality problems.

“We had some cotton open when we got all that rain, so we’re having some color-grade issues from the rain and weathering,” he said. “That means a discount to the growers.”

Fromme estimated that fields damaged by the weather will see yields reduced by a half a bale to a full bale per acre.

On top of the weather, cotton prices remain relatively low, which has led to low acreage statewide.

“The past several years, we’re bouncing around somewhere between 120,000 to 150,000 acres. Not too long ago, we had in excess of 600,000 to 700,000 acres,” Fromme said.

In the early 2000s, Louisiana had nearly 850,000 acres, but higher commodity prices for crops such as soybeans and corn made those crops more attractive to grow. This year, cotton producers are expected to harvest about 134,000 acres.

Prices for cotton have ranged between 60 and 70 cents per pound and are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.

“That’s still on the low side, and I think it’s going to take a lot more than that to bring back a significant amount of cotton acres,” Fromme said.

Contact Dan Fromme at [email protected].

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