Sandy Stewart, Coolman, Denise | 4/19/2005 10:29:21 PM
Cotton harvest is under way in Louisiana, and LSU AgCenter cotton specialist Dr. Sandy Stewart said producers are watching the latest hurricane to enter the Gulf.
Although Ivan isn’t expected to smash into Louisiana based on Tuesday (Sept. 14) morning’s projections, a large portion of the state’s coast is under a hurricane watch. Worse yet, another tropical depression that is expected to become Tropical Storm Jeanne shortly is brewing.
"It seems the forecast track (for Hurricane Ivan) gets shifted further west every time we get an update," Stewart said Monday (Sept. 13). "Cotton is opening, and defoliation and harvest are under way right now, so we don’t need any wet weather that would hamper those efforts. It is always hard to predict how a cotton crop will emerge from a tropical storm, or hurricane, but it is almost never a positive thing."
A major hurricane would be the "icing on the cake" to an already frustrating year for Louisiana cotton farmers, Stewart said.
"First of all, we had a challenging growing season," he said. "We had a lot of wet weather in the beginning, which wasn’t good, and now we have a mediocre crop in many areas of the state."
Defoliation of the plants already has been accomplished in preparation for harvest, and that leaves cotton bolls open to rain and wind. This could present even more of a problem if storms come our way.
"Cotton typically fares better in a storm with leaves and closed bolls on the plant," Stewart said.
A total of 490,000 acres of cotton are expected to be harvested this year in Louisiana. That’s down from about 515,000 acres that were harvested in 2003 and about the same as the 2002 crop. All three of those years are well below the nearly 849,000 acres harvested 2001.
Cotton still is one of the state’s major crops, however, with last year’s production contributing nearly $343 million to Louisiana’s economy. Cotton is one of the three major row crops grown in Louisiana; the others are sugarcane and rice.
For more information on agricultural production, preparing for or recovering from storms, and a variety of other topics, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.