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Weekend rains delay area cotton harvests

[10/12/2004]] Rain over the weekend could have done the farmers in Warren County and the South Delta worse. Instead, all that happened is a delay in harvesting cotton that remains in the fields.

Before the rain began Friday, farmers in Warren County were busily picking the last of their crop, said Terry Rector, head of the Mississippi State University Extension Office in Vicksburg. But the 7.36 inches of rain that was officially recorded at Vicksburg put a halt to that.

A sprinkling of rain would have been welcome. “It was dusty, dusty, dusty,” Rector added, noting that some farmers had had to resort to watering their turnrows to keep the dust from billowing up.

With dry weather being forecast for the next couple of days and the very dry conditions for a month before the rain, it won’t take long before the fields dry again enough for the harvesting to resume.

Robert Martin, agricultural director for Sharkey and Issaquena Counties agreed with Rector’s assessment.

In the South Delta counties, Martin said the farmers still had 25 percent to 30 percent of their cotton crop to pick, which could take about a week to a week and a half to accomplish.

“You’ve got to remember, they’ll be starting back in the mud,” he said, indicating those conditions will make the harvesting slow at first.

Both said the rain had little effect on soybeans as virtually all of them have been harvested.

“If you run cattle, you loved it,” Rector said of the rain’s impact on pastures. “We still have another month or so on our warm-season grasses.”

Both men said the rain won’t affect the yield of soybeans. In Warren County, Rector said the bean yield should be above the average of about 27 bushels per acre. The yield in Sharkey and Issaquena, Martin said, should be in the 40-bushel range.

The impact on the cotton will likely be a reduction in grade.

“Before this, we had some nice white, fluffy cotton,” Martin said, adding farmers won’t know just how much the grade will be lowered until the remainder of the crop is picked and ginned.

Rector said he’s heard no yield information on Warren County’s cotton but said the average is normally about 800 pounds to the acre.

In Sharkey and Issaquena counties, the cotton yield will probably be between 800 and 900 pounds per acre.