Will Rainfall Hurt Cotton Harvest?

September 22, 2006 -- Posted at 11:26 p.m. CDT

PARAGOULD, AR -- As the rain fell in sheets overnight on Thursday, so did the spirits of farmers across Region 8.

With just under a month before the bulk of the cotton harvest is to take place, crops all across northeast Arkansas are under water.

"The predictions that I read were for a ¼ inch, ½ an inch in places, but obviously we had two inches to three and a ½ inches," said cotton farmer Ronald Pigue.

Those inches can mean disaster for the fall cotton crop.  Pigue said while this rain is bad for the crops, it's not the only problem farmers face.

"We're not having a natural maturing of the cotton crop because of the atypical weather that we've had in the last month really," said Pigue.

Usually September and January are the two driest months, but not this year.

"We need it to dry up immediately and I understand that we're going to get rain for another 28 to 36 hours," said Pigue.

Common sense will tell you that the soaked ground won't dry up immediately, but if there's any chance to have a profitable harvest, mother nature needs to cooperate a little bit more.

This time of year cotton farmers would prefer to have no rain at all.

"We don't need any more rain until we complete a harvest in November," said Pigue, "Every time it rains, regardless, the cotton is worth less after it rains than it was before it rained."

The amount of damage done by Thursday and Friday's storms won't be known until the land has time to dry out.