By Amanda Huber
Consider the old adage, “No news is good news,” as a theme for cotton acreage in the Southeast in 2012. With adequate rainfall and no major problems, producers likely welcomed a low-key year, especially when the last potential threat to the crop, Hurricane Sandy, passed just north of the Cotton Belt.
Guy Collins, University of Georgia Extension cotton specialist, says that the crop this year in his state should be pretty good because of abundant rainfall during the season.
“We seemed to get rain all year long just when we needed it,” he says. “We especially had rainfall in the spring that helped activate herbicides, which was very different from last year when it was so dry in the early season.”
Collins says there were no significant dry periods in 2012, except it was a little drier in the northern part of the Belt.
“Statewide, we really had good rainfall all year long,” he says.
Not Feeling The Heat
Despite the good start and rapid growth, Collins says later in the season the crop had not received the normal amount of heat units.
“At mid-season, there were a lot of cloudy days and rainfall, and that did two things,” he says. “It set us back a little as far as maturing the crop, and, in the earlier planted cotton, the bolls were starting to open, and we ended up with a lot of boll rot and hard lock.
“That was a considerable challenge. Now, boll development on the later-set bolls is taking a lot longer.”
Collins says waiting on those late developing bolls may not be worth the effort.
“We are already into cooler temperatures, and it will be hard to develop those bolls,” he says. “Waiting on them to develop may not be lucrative for the producer.”
Stable Acreage Expected In Georgia
Even with the lack of heat units and boll diseases, Collins says Georgia producers are set up to harvest a record yield statewide.
He expects cotton acres to remain stable in Georgia as long as cotton is competitive compared to other crops.
“Corn and bean prices will influence acres, but we will likely gain back some acres from peanuts,” Collins says. “We had 1.6 million acres of cotton in 2012.”
Ample rainfall was received in most areas of Virginia as well with a few areas of drought stress, says Ames Herbert, Extension entomologist at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
“Insect pressure was normal, which in Virginia means heavy thrips pressure on seedlings, moderate and spotty stink bug infestations, and this year pretty moderate bollworm pressure,” he says. “For the most part, field monitoring and timely insecticide sprays worked well to prevent much loss to insects.”
Herbert says Virginia producers, who grew about 85,000 acres of cotton in 2012, like those in other Eastern states, experienced some target spot disease but incidence was not extreme, no leaf drop was observed and fungicide sprays were not needed.
Many Challenges For 2013
David Parrish, North Carolina Cotton Growers Association executive director, says that producers in his state had a very good crop this year.
“I would call it above average,” Parrish says, who also says Hurricane Sandy had little impact on the state, even in the coastal counties. “Harvest started late and has been slow.”
Cotton faces four major challenges going into next year: High grain prices, relativity low cotton prices, low consumption and high supply.
“Final wheat planting numbers will be a good indicator as to how many acres cotton may lose next year in North Carolina,” he says.
Contact Amanda Huber at (352) 486-7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.