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Rain a mixed blessing

for Arkansas cotton crop

July 26, 2012 | 0 comments

Recent rain has generally helped the Arkansas cotton crop, but the accompanying cloudy conditions may impact yield.

Tom Barber, extension cotton agronomist and associate professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said he's checked on-farm demonstration plots and the rain has fluffed up plants.

"The extended period of cloudy conditions and rain has brought new life to many of these fields," Barber said.

"However, this 'new life,' has not come without cost: We have shed many cotton flower buds and flowers as a result of the cloudy conditions and rainfall."

The flowers are important, as they form the cotton bolls.

Barber said he's been fielding calls from concerned producers.

Overall, the crop is in pretty good shape, Barber said.

Cotton growers are also facing problems with tarnished plant bugs and spider mites, with the plant bug numbers increasing sharply over the past couple of weeks.

In some places, the pests are two to three times above the threshold density that indicates farmers should apply pesticides.

All in all, this year's crop appears better than average, Barber said.

Before harvest, farmers have to defoliate the crop so the farm machinery picks cotton without intermingling leaves.

"We'll be defoliating in August," Barber said. "This will be the best cotton we've ever defoliated in August."

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