HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - Area cotton farmers are in a squeeze this summer.
The labor-intensive crop has faced stagnant yields and increased risk over the last 2 years.
The USDA has estimated overall cotton area at 320,000 acres, which is down 46% since last year.
Region 8 farmers are dealing with the lowest cotton acreage since 1983.
Many have simply lost interest in the crop, while some even feel stuck with expensive equipment.
"It's just the input cost of cotton is so high, the prices the growers are getting for it are just not high enough to offset that cost when they can plant a crop like corn or soybeans."
These problems were compounded after a rainy spring season delayed planting for several weeks.
Poinsett County Extension Agent Craig Allen says it's all because of cotton's small profit margin.
"Once you pay your consultant and seed cost, all the chemicals depending on how bad the bugs are that particular year...it just knocks the bottom line out."
Allen says farmers are now battling a myriad of plant bugs as well as the dreaded pigweed plant.
This notorious weed chokes out cotton plants and is hard to control once it reaches maturity.
Many farmers are turning to more profitable crops such as corn and soybeans.
"It's less labor-intensive. You don't have quite the scouting cost. You don't have quite the chemical, plant bug, insect control issues with it. So it's an easier crop for them to grow and it's also more profitable."