Rain Delays Region 8 Cotton Harvest

November 16, 2006 - Posted at 5:32 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- Region 8 is finally drying out after receiving substantial rainfall the last few days, but it may be too much for farmers. Many growers still have standing cotton and soggy fields are delaying the harvest.

"It's going to take several days for people to get back in the fields, most of them are very muddy and even though we have equipment to get across the field, it's so wet now it would be difficult to run a picker across most fields," Craighead County Extension Agent Steve Culp.

Culp says about 25% of the cotton crop is still in the field and with boles still on the plant, Arkansas' expected record harvest could suffer.

"Some of the cotton does not pick as well, the cotton strings out on the ground and then you have quality problem and then a yield loss.  We will probably take a hit on these later fields and we just need some dry weather," said Culp.

Seedling disease, thrip damage, high winds and blowing sands took their toll on the start of this year's crop.  But a stretch of sunny weather turned things around....and now if it dries up, farmers might come out ahead.

"I think most of them will be able to get it out, it will be a question of when.  I've seen as some years as late as Christmas, hopefully it won't be that long. Hopefully it will be in the next week or two we'll get some fateful weather, some drying weather and they will get in and get the rest of this out.  But it is going to be a slow process," said Culp.

Nationally, cotton production was forecasted at 21.3 million bales...that's down 11% from last year's record high of 23.9 million bales.