Barnett told growers attending the June 13 Northeast Research Station Crop Production and Pest Management Field Day that the Louisiana Boll Weevil Eradication Program’s mapping data pegs the state’s planted cotton acreage at 896,000 acres. That’s 206,000 acres or 30 percent more cotton than the 690,000 acres Louisiana growers harvested in 2000.
“We’re seeing a substantial increase in cotton acreage this year. And, so far, we have a good-looking cotton crop in the field overall,” says Barnett. “Substantial increases in cotton acreage are being reported in almost all of the state’s parishes, but Tensas Parish and Morehouse Parish are the two largest cotton producing parishes this year.”
Cotton acreage in the two-parish area totals about 219,000 acres with Tensas Parish reporting approximately 115,000 acres of cotton and Morehouse Parish growers expected to harvest 104,000 acres of cotton. The southern-most cotton acreage in the state is in Iberville Parish where 3,500 acres of cotton were planted this year.
The exceptions to any optimistic outlook for this fall’s harvest are those areas of the state that received sporadic hail damage in early spring and individual fields that had to be replanted due to seedling disease pressure. The southern-most areas of Louisiana also recently received large amounts of hurricane-related rainfall, which could reduce the amount of state’s cotton that makes it to harvest this fall.
“Quite a bit of the cotton in the southern and central portions of Louisiana is wilting and drooping badly. The soil is these areas is saturated with water after several days in a row of heavy rains and continual cloud cover,” Barnett says. “The Southern areas of the state that recently received 12 inches or more of rainfall over a short period of time will likely not recover.”
Bob Hutchinson, resident director of the Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph, adds, “Cotton doesn’t like wet feet and some of the affected cotton crop likely won’t survive. To make matters worse, growers may wish that the portion of the affected crop that does survive didn’t because it will require intensive management and yields will likely be reduced.”
However, the outlook is better for the cotton acreage, which although it received heavy amounts of rainfall, remained wet for only a short period of time. For those acres of cotton that didn’t go completely underwater and didn’t lose oxygen because the water moved over the field quickly, the prognosis is for crop survival.
“Also, some of the wilting cotton may be due to a combination of water log problems, and Fusarium and/or root knot nematodes,” Hutchinson says.
Sandy Stewart, cotton specialist at the LSU Ag Center’s Dean Lee Research Station, says that despite these factors the crop, overall, is progressing well.
Hutchinson says, “The crop looks amazingly good in Northeast Louisiana, considering the amount of rain we’ve received recently, and considering the reports we’re hearing from the southern part of the state. So, we’re certainly not complaining.”