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Cotton Harvest is Running Behind

Cotton being picked near Dellwood, Florida.

Cotton being picked near Dellwood, Florida.

It’s early November and there is still a great deal of cotton to be picked in Northwest Florida. Yield reports from Jackson County have been well below the norm, with yields being reported between 400 -1100 lbs. of lint per acre. Additionally, there have been some reports of poor quality grades.

The weather has been the main recipient of blame from cotton farmers. Cold weather in April followed by a dry May made planting on time very difficult for some farmers, especially those without irrigation. In combination with a difficult planting season, continuous heavy rains the entire summer stressed much of the cotton crop, severely reducing yield potential and delaying maturity.

Despite these setbacks, farmers are still working hard to harvest their crop and deliver to the gin. Considerable acreage of the late planted cotton has still yet to be defoliated.

Dr. David Wright, UF/IFAS Agronomist has some thoughts for growers with late planted cotton:

“Growers with un-defoliated cotton should keep in mind that cool temperatures significantly reduce the the ability of cotton bolls to mature. If we are getting highs of 70 degrees and lows of 50 degrees we are getting zero heat units and thus cotton bolls are not maturing. Additionally, we are now at the point in the year where we run the risk of having a frost.

A frost can completely eliminate the ability of un-open bolls to open. Such a frost acts by killing the bolls, preventing them from producing ethylene which causes them to open. My best recommendation is to consider making harvest aid applications on their final fields while the conditions are favorable.”

Some weather forecasts show daily high temperatures remaining in the mid 70’s until the middle of next week. This could help a few more bolls to open over the next week. Additionally, it could prove to be good weather for applying harvest aid materials. Grower’s must soon decide when its time to pull the trigger on harvest aid materials for late planted fields.

For more information, see 2013 Cotton Harvest Timing and Defoliation and Cotton Growth and Development or contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Agent.

Cotton stalks being chopped after picking near Marianna, FL.

Cotton stalks being chopped after picking near Marianna, FL.

Cotton modules stacked at the Clover Leaf Gin in Greenwood, Fl.

Cotton modules stacked at the Clover Leaf Gin in Greenwood, Fl.


Author: Josh Thompson - j.thompson@ufl.edu

Josh Thompson is a regional agricultural agent based in Jackson County who focuses on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and agronomic crops.

Permanent link to this article: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2013/11/09/cotton-harvest-is-running-behind/