LEPANTO, AR (KAIT) - The cotton harvest came early for many Region 8 row croppers, due to an unusually early start to growing season.
Farmers have about another week left in the field, as long as the weather cooperates. Many are working long nights in the field because of the threat of rain this week. Wet cotton is largely useless.
Even if the rain droplets don't knock the crop out of the boll, they can drastically hurt the quality of the lint.
Every time it does rain, Fred Couch says you lose money. Rain affects the weight and color of the cotton, driving the prices down.
"If it gets enough rain, it doesn't come in with the same weight. Every time it gets wet, sun dries it out, it takes a little bit of the weight out of it."
It's been a year-long battle against exceptional drought, low commodity prices and high fuel costs.
Yet, 10 thousand acres of cotton will pass from the field to the gin yard, where lint will be separated from seed.
Couch has been with Rabbit Ridge Gin for 16 years and has never seen such an early harvest.
"We've ginned 3 days in August. That's the first time we've ever ginned in August here at Rabbit Ridge gin."
The previous years have been more productive. 2006 and 2007 had ginned twice the amount of this year's cotton modules. However, there is a rush to beat the rain.
Couch has not spent the night at home in weeks.
"Take dirty clothes home, get clean clothes. But no, I have not been home to spend the night since we started night shift."