Morning storms shred cotton, up to 10,000 acres may be damaged
October 7, 2014
- Morning storms scoured up to 10,000 acres of cotton
- Some 7,000 acres may have 50-100 percent lint loss
- More woes ahead with rainy forecast
BLACK OAK, Ark. – Violent storms with curtains of golf ball-sized hail scoured up to 10,000 acres of promising cotton on Tuesday, just days away from harvest, said Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
The storm that moved into Arkansas shortly before 5 a.m. worked its way southeast through Greene, Craighead and Mississippi counties. It lasted about five minutes in any given spot but left behind major damage along the way.
Robertson, along with Mississippi County Extension Staff Chair Ray Benson and Craighead County Agent Eric Grant, spent much of the day assessing damage from the storms.
The three estimated “that as much as 10,000 acres of cotton in Mississippi and Craighead counties were impacted,” he said. “Seven-thousand acres had significant damage of 50 to 100 percent lint on the ground. Remaining lint will be easily lost with additional weather events.”
In those fields, Robertson said, “it looks like the pickers have already gone through, the stems look like they’re eaten up and the bolls are dangling.
“From the highway, some fields don’t look too bad, but once you enter the field, losses of 25 to 50 percent is common,” he said.
Near Black Oak, “most of the cotton that was opened was knocked to the ground,” said Jason Osborn, a Mississippi County extension agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Some fields look worse than others based on how much was opened. The hail damage was about two miles wide but traveled several miles.
“It hailed for about seven minutes, then stopped for a minute, then started again for a few minutes and then finally stopped,” he said. “When we opened the backdoor, there was ice piled on the back porch.”
Robertson said that at Black Oak gin, where 12,000 acres of cotton was expected to be harvested, only 1,000 had been brought in. Worse “yields here were expected to average near three bales, or 1,500 pounds per acre,” he said. “Remaining lint on the plant will fall easily with additional wind or rain.”
That rain or wind isn’t far off. The remnants of Tropical Storm Simon were expected to make the end of the week and weekend wet – with potentially heavy rain, the National Weather Service at Little Rock said.
It’s been a rough season for growers in eastern Arkansas. A study released in August by Division of Agriculture economists estimated that flooding since June in northeast Arkansas had already caused $35.6 million in lost crop value to 210,400 farm acres across 10 counties.
And this week, many Arkansas growers were just getting to their cotton harvest. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, corn was 96 percent harvested, sorghum was 90 percent harvested, rice 76 percent harvested and soybeans 43 percent harvested.
Cotton was just 8 percent harvested compared to the 27 percent five-year average.
The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Dave Edmark
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service