Louisiana cotton crop disappointing

Kenneth Gautreaux  |  10/25/2016 1:27:46 PM

(10/25/16) ALEXANDRIA, La. – By the end of October, Louisiana cotton producers are expected to have completed harvesting this year’s crop. Based on reports, the flooding rains of August had a significant impact on the crop, especially in the central part of the state.

Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter cotton specialist, said yields are down across the board in the central Louisiana.

“The yields are very variable in central Louisiana – anywhere from 500 to 600 pounds, and some fields in excess of two bales,” Fromme said.

Two bales contain nearly 1,000 pounds to the acre. Yields in the northeastern part of the state, where a good deal of the state’s cotton crop is grown, are expected to be much higher.

“Yields there are just fantastic, well over 1,000 pounds with reports of 1,200 to 1,300 pounds of lint to the acre,” Fromme said.

According to Fromme, this year’s statewide average yield is will be around 900 pounds per acre, which is approximately 100 pounds lower than last year. The rain not only reduced yields but also caused some quality problems.

“We had some cotton open at that time when we got all that rain, so we’re having some color-grade issues from the rain and weathering,” he said. “That means a discount to the growers.”

Fromme estimated that fields damaged by the weather will see yields reduced by a half a bale to a full bale per acre.

On top of the weather, cotton prices remain relatively low, which has led to low acreage statewide.

“The past several years, we’re bouncing around somewhere between 120,000 to 150,000 acres. Not too long ago, we had in excess of 600,000 to 700,000 acres,” Fromme said.

In the early 2000s, Louisiana had nearly 850,000 acres, but higher commodity prices for crops such as soybeans and corn made those crops more attractive to grow. This year, cotton producers are expected to harvest about 134,000 acres.

Prices for cotton have ranged between 60 and 70 cents per pound and are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.

“That’s still on the low side, and I think it’s going to take a lot more than that to bring back a significant amount of cotton acres,” Fromme said.

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An open cotton boll is ready to be picked at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria. Cotton farmers are expected to complete their harvest by the end of October with lower yields compared to last year’s crop because of the flooding rains in August. (Photo by Olivia McClure)

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A cotton boll at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria shows signs of hard lock, a condition when the boll does not open or only opens slightly. Little lint is recovered by the cotton picker when it is harvested, causing lower yields. Much of the cotton in the state had problems that were attributed to flooding rains during August. (Photo by Craig Gautreaux)

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