Cotton field in Webster County, Mississippi, Sept. 3, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Hudson with the MSU Extension Service)
One of my favorite times of year is almost here. There will be an unusual earthy smell lingering in the air. You’ll be able to hear the big trucks rolling down the highway carrying their loads to the local gin. And soon, you’ll see a dusting of cotton on the side of the road resembling an early snow.
I was literally raised on a turn row, so as fall approaches and the harvest nears, I get a little giddy because it brings back memories of home.
According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, this year’s cotton crop in Mississippi looks promising, but acreage is down 520-thousand acres due to a rainy planting season and unfavorable market conditions.
On August 31st, the USDA estimated 65% of the state’s crop to be in good or excellent condition. The rest is considered fair, with just 8% in poor condition. State growers planted 680,000 acres of cotton in 2019, 26% more than this year’s acreage.
MSU Cotton Specialist, Dr. Brian Pieralisi said much of the state’s cotton is loaded with bolls. “This year, we were able to get most of our acres in on time, and then we entered a weather pattern of a lot of rain before it got dry again,” Pieralisi said. “This pattern allowed a really good root system to develop in a lot of places and allowed growers to address most weed issues.”
Pieralisi said, “Thrips were unusually bad in many places, and there were hot spots of significant bollworm and plant bug activity, but these pest problems were manageable when detected and treated on time.”
“Mississippi has experienced favorable growing conditions this year. Fruit retention has been really high and this is evident when you walk through the fields and you can feel the bolls actually slapping your shins. This is a good sign and I hope for a dry fall so we can get our crops out,” said Pieralisi.