Growers, consultants and ginners throughout the Mid-South are expressing pleasant surprise at cotton yields. Their one regret: there aren’t more cotton acres. 

“For the first time in several years, cotton harvest is good in Louisiana,” says John Kruse, LSU AgCenter cotton specialist. “We’re not done yet but are thankful that we’ve actually been able to bring in the crop.

“Right now, we’re around 60 percent harvested and yields are up. Some folks are saying it’s a really good year. Others say the crop is average – but they’re happy with ‘average’ because it’s been so long since they’ve been able to harvest an average crop. There’s been a bad taste in growers’ mouths after the last couple of harvests with the late rains and hurricanes.”

Arkansas’ cotton crop “is a lot better than we expected,” says Tom Barber, Extension cotton agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “I never dreamed it would be this good. I’ve heard good yields from the Bootheel all the way to the Louisiana border.”

Barber says the state’s cotton is around 35 percent picked. “A lot of the crop from central Arkansas to the southern border has been brought in. We’re picking up north, too, but there’s more cotton up there.

What about yields?

“The irrigated cotton yields, on the low end, are around two bales. On the high end, yields are at 1,500 to 1,600 pounds with a couple of fields that hit 1,900 pounds. I’ve heard of a couple of four-bale yields.”

Ginners

On Sept. 24, Peach Orchard Gin, in Gideon, Missouri, is running 24/7.

“Our irrigated cotton is really good – between two- and three-bale,” says Robbie Winston, gin manager. “Nobody is complaining about that, believe me.”

The area’s dryland crop, “unfortunately, is below average. We got no rain this summer and that hurt the dryland cotton. The good news, though, is the irrigated cotton is busting out. I’m hearing the same story all over the Bootheel.”

Such yields coupled with stellar market prices have farmers “saying they’ll grow a lot more cotton next year,” says Winston. “Cotton acreage will be back if the price maintains during the winter. That is music to my ears.”