Cotton crop running behind schedule thanks to tough spring weather

TRENTON, N.C. (WNCT) – It’s been a tough year for cotton right from the start.

“We would like warm temperatures, sunshiny days and there were very few of those in May. The crop did eventually come up but it germinated very slowly and then once it did germinate it grew very slowly,” said Jacob Morgan, of Jones & Lenoir County Coop Extension.

Growth has picked up, but farmers are still concerned. Weak cotton prices and a wet spring have led to a 20 to a 30-percent decline in acres planted this year. Those farmers who did plant hope the recent turn in the weather sticks around.

Hotter weather and recent rain have helped this year’s slow-growing cotton crop here across the East. A field in Jones County is in bloom right now as it should be, but many others in the East are falling behind schedule.

“We would have liked for there to be a lot more blooms on it by now, or squares that would turn into blooms. The bloom period is about eight weeks for a cotton crop,” said Morgan.

The next eight weeks will be crucial to the success of this year’s crop. Morgan says cotton needs two weeks of warm, moist weather within the eight week bloom period. But, with the bloom period pushed back this year, an early frost could be disastrous.

“If it frosts, say the first part of October or even possibly into September, if we have a really early hard frost, that could really cut down on the production,” Morgan added.

And with the low price on cotton, a good yield will be crucial for this year’s crop to be a money-maker.

Cotton is typically harvested in late October and early November. In 2015, farmers battled wet weather during the harvest.

They’re hoping for a drier end to the season this year.

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