Did Gustav Damage The Cotton Crop?

LEACHVILLE (KAIT)  If you drive around Leachville you will notice acre upon acre of cotton. Cotton that is nearing harvest.

But have the recent rains hurt this years harvest?

Up until gustav rolled ashore it's been pretty dry for the cotton belt.

For Ronnie Kennett the land manager for the Adams Land Company in Leachville the dry weather really hasn't been a large problem.

Kennett, "We can pretty well do about 80 to 85 percent of our ground can be irrigated and that's been our salvation."

Harvest is just around the corner. In fact these modules are the first of the dry land cotton crop.

Kennett, "They'll start defoliating some of the earliest planted irrigated cotton so were just about there, just about ready."

In fact if you look close you can see the bolls are opening up.

But with the recent rains from Hurricane Gustav is the crop damaged?

Kennett, "It always hurts a little if there is very much open. Thank goodness our good crop, the irrigated crop is not open real well yet. So we dodged that bullet but on the dry land cotton it's gonna hurt."

Kennett says the rain this past week really hasn't hurt the cotton but as they get ready to defoliate and get ready to harvest, any more rain falling could do some real damage.

At the compress  3 modules sit where soon thousands will join them. At the Jackson farm the pickers stand ready like racehorses waiting for the bell.

Technology has changed the face of cotton farming just compare a 40's model picker with the pickers of today and by the use of chemicals farmers have more control over the harvest process.

Kennett, "They will defoliate and let all that leaf drop and they will put a boll opener which enhances the quickness of that boll opening."

Harvesting can begin about ten days after all the final chemicals are applied. But even with all the technology mother nature can still have the final say.

Kennett, "These guys (farmers)  are good at what they do but when the weather injects itself into the picture there is nothing they can do about that."

According to Ryan Vaughn the Leachville area has received about 1 inch of rain in the past few days. It should dry up soon for the harvest which will get into full swing around the end of September.