Summer rain could hurt cotton crops long into fall - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Summer rain could hurt cotton long into fall

Cotton crop in Reidsville Cotton crop in Reidsville

Plenty of Tattnall County farms have seen more rain in the first eight months of 2013 than they saw in all of 2012. Much of the 50 to 60 inches of rain came in the early stages of cotton season.

"Much of our cotton in Tattnall County is planted after onions or wheat are harvested from the same fields," explained Chris Tyson of the University of Georgia Extension Service. "It went in the ground in late May and early June and that's when weeks of heavy rain started and the plants just got water logged."

Tyson said the excessive rains stunted root growth in the plants and kept them from getting bigger. That now means the plants have fewer bolls, the small pod produces cotton fiber. 

"We could be looking at losing a third of our normal yields," Tyson warned.

Another weather factor will soon come into play - cool, fall weather. The plants can still generate and grow bolls until frost comes. If warm weather continues, farmers have one last chance to recover lost yields.

Tattnall County boasts 10,000 acres of cotton. Last year, Georgia farmers grew 1.3 acres of cotton. The crop generated $1.3 billion in lint (cotton fiber) and seed.

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