This crop season appears to be moving along way too quickly. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were talking about how this year’s cotton might be delayed by rain events in the Mid- South. And simultaneously we were discussing the continuing drought in the West and Southwest. How quickly the scenario can change in a couple of months.
Now we’re talking about welcome rains that Texas and Oklahoma received in June while the Mid-South has coped with record-breaking precipitation earlier this summer that put the crop dangerously behind in some areas. How much more unpredictable can this year become? And to think we still have August and September to finish off this crop and hope that additional heat units save the day.
As I am writing this column in mid-July, we’re in the middle of a weather trend that recently sent evening temperatures into the high 50s in parts of the Mid-South. The experts always say that no two cotton crop seasons are alike, and we’d have to agree with that assessment based on what has happened thus far.
Which brings us to a quick preview of our cover story on Arkansas producer Sam Stuckey who has managed to put his cotton crop in excellent condition halfway through the season. When you consider that it rained for about three straight weeks in June, it is nothing short of miraculous what his cotton looks like right now. As you’ll learn when you read this story on pages 8 and 9, it was a case of planting the crop successfully during the first five days of May. Then, he aggressively put out his residual herbicide applications and was in good shape heading into the last days of the month.
Then the rains came for the next three weeks of June. Fortunately, there were windows of opportunity nearly every day when the rains stopped. And, unlike the Memphis area across the Mississippi River, Stuckey’s farm didn’t receive six or seven inches of rainfall in one day. Instead, he and his crews did the best they could during those momentary lulls in the storms. Call it luck or some of the timeliest management practices ever seen.
The end results, according to Stuckey’s long-time consultant Chuck Farr, are “the best looking cotton fields in Arkansas.” That’s high praise, and obviously there is a lot that must happen between now and harvest. But if you recently drove by the Stuckey fields in Clarkedale, Ark., you would have been impressed.
Now, it’s on to August and September. Don’t be surprised if the Stuckey farm stays on a roll and delivers a fabulous cotton crop.