Cotton harvest running late

Published 8:37 pm Monday, November 1, 2010

Rains have delayed many cotton crops from being harvested. Yield losses have been reported in surrounding areas and are expected in Suffolk.

The rain came too late to help crops and is now putting a hold on the harvest.

Many cotton crops are still in the fields until the ground dries out, according to Janet Spencer, Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Isle of Wight and interim in Suffolk.

“We couldn’t get any rain for awhile, and now the rains are delaying harvest,” Spencer said. “The fields need to be dry enough for the equipment to go out on, and the crops need to be dried out before they can picked.”

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The rain is not expected to cause any significant damage, Spencer added.

The crop most in danger due to high rains is cotton. If the boll falls away from the plant, it cannot be used, but Spencer said the rain received so far this year has not been significant enough to damage the boll.

As it is, this year’s crops finished earlier than usual because of the drought, Spencer said.
Normal harvest occurs in late November or early December.

Nearly all the peanut crops have been harvested. Soybean crops planted early have mostly been harvested, and the later planted crop is still drying out before it can be picked.

Glenn Slade, Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent in Surry, said last month he expects high losses of cotton, soybean and peanut crops.

Slade added that losses may be slightly lower in Suffolk than in Surry, but not by much.

Cotton yields were expected to come in at about 50 percent. About 200 to 300 pounds of cotton were being harvested per acre, compared to the usual 500 pounds per acre.

Soybeans are just beginning to be harvested, but Slade said yields were between 12 and 15 bushels per acre. Usually, 30 to 50 bushels per acre are harvested.

While cotton and soybean harvesting are not going well, peanuts are worse.

The standard 3,000 pounds of peanuts an acre has dropped to 400-600 pounds an acre.

“In some places there aren’t hardly any peanuts,” Slade said. “It’s way less than half and the worst I’ve seen in quite a few years.”

These yield losses are coming after a heap of bad news for corn and pasture crops.

In August, a drought declaration suggested by local agencies to the City Manager showed an expected 90-percent yield loss in corn and 80-percent yield loss in pasture.

A 30-percent yield loss of a single crop must be shown to receive a drought declaration, which would allow for farmers to apply for low-interest loans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Service Agency are still conducting their review of Suffolk’s request.