By admin       2017-10-03

As reported by, with one of the most active hurricane seasons in the past decade, many experts had feared Alabama cotton production would take a substantial hit. However, after thorough analysis, reports indicate the state of cotton in Alabama is still strong.While Hurricane Irma was not expected to impact Alabama crops, tropical storm-force winds and heavy rainfall did extend into some of the Yellowhammer State. This caused a portion of cotton crops to be pushed over.The extent to which crops were susceptible to damage from heavy wind and rain depended on the maturity level of the plant. Cotton grows in a “boll.” This term refers to a protective casing surrounding the fluffy part of the cotton plant. As the plant matures, its boll will open up, leaving the plant vulnerable to the surrounding environment. As a result, more mature crops were at an increased risk of damage during the storms because the bolls were left exposed.Dr. Trey Cutts, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System cotton specialist, highlighted some of the problems mature cotton plants are facing. “There is a lot of cotton in the state that has a heavy boll load, but limited root and stalk growth that is laid over and tangled in some fields. The storm didn’t have a direct impact of knocking off fruit or lint. However, defoliation that will commence soon will likely be difficult,” Cutts said.Normally, defoliation takes place by running machinery through the cotton fields, however, due to laid over plants, farmers will be forced to use air-based defoliation techniques. But Cuts explained that this shouldn’t substantially impact the crop yields expected by farmers.In a crop progress report conducted by the USDA, they indicated that 14% of the 450,000 acres of cotton planted were in excellent condition, 52% in good condition, and 25% in fair condition. Juxtaposed with the drought conditions in 2016, the Alabama cotton crop of 2017 is poised for far better production this season.

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