Summer Storms Damage Southwest Georgia Cotton Crop

Doerun, GA

Things can certainly happen in a blink of an eye, and cotton producers here in Southwest Georgia know that all too well after recent storms brought high winds, hail, pouring rains, and even tornadoes that hammered their crop. It’s something Camp Hand, Extension Cotton Agronomist with the University of Georgia, says is a bad situation as seedling cotton is a vulnerable crop, but believes there’s still hope.

“Cotton right now is anywhere from first bloom if you planted early to just coming out of the ground, so there’s a lot of variability in our crop and the impacts on the crop, kind of depend on what stage it’s in,” says Hand. “The field that we’re at today, it’s probably the second week of squaring, which is where I would imagine most of our crop is right now, and this field looks better than it did a few days ago. It’s starting to come out of it a little bit, the terminals were broken out of this cotton, which means it’s kind of got to divert resources back to vegetative growth to compensate for that loss, but that’s kind of the situation we’re in right now is waiting on sunshine.”

However, according to Hand, at this point, it’s just a waiting game, as they won’t know the full scope of the damage for a while.

“It’s hard to tell what the losses are going to be right now,” says Hand. “I will say that depending on the stage of crop could change things. Seedling cotton is a little more vulnerable to something like this and if the hail was a little bit worse in seedling cotton fields and you see some sticks or like it broke off everything and coddle leaves were gone, then that plant is dead, but these right here, you still see green leaves, it’s still, you know, photosynthesizing, still working, so this crop definitely has got a chance and a lot of potential, and of course, whether it’s seedling and stuff like that, it kind of changes what we think about what we need to do going forward, but right now, we’re just kind of in a tough spot.”

Tough spot indeed, as Hand says it’s too late to replant, and says that the only thing producers can really do is wait on sunshine and warmer weather.

“The thing about it is, if you’ve got seedling cotton that was killed pretty much, today is what, June twentieth I believe it is, so I wouldn’t replant today and you can’t, because it’s too wet. So either you’ve got to stick with what you’ve got, or we’ve got to change course, because it’s a little too late to replant cotton. In terms of trying to bring it out of this, what we really need is sunshine and ninety degree days and that’s not really in the forecast, but on a day like today, this is exactly what the crop needs. There’s nothing you can spray, nothing really you can do to kind of hasten the crop coming out of this,” says Hand.

By: John Holcomb