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December 8, 2023
Drew Wendland aimed the cotton picker into the last remaining acres of this year’s cotton crop. Harvest took a bit longer than usual, but that was pretty much in line with what’s been a good but mixed season for his family’s 2023 cotton.
“I think this year's cotton crop has really been kind of a rollercoaster. We had a good start to the season and a good fruit set. But late in the year, the rain turned off. Anything that we would've been able to set in the top, we didn’t, and we weren't able to keep until harvest. Yields have been down in my part of the state. We’re going to be below average. I’m not sure how far below average, but below average,” said Wendland, Nov. 29.
Wendland farms with his father, Andy, and family around Prattville, Ala., just west of Montgomery.
Wendland said one thing 2023 emphasized is “that the timing of the water may be a little more important than just the total amount.’
Excessive rain early in the season caused some of plants to be a little slow to grow, he said, and later in the season, when the water turned off, it made it hard to set a top crop without irrigation.
In his November Cotton Shorts newsletter, Alabama Cooperative Extension cotton specialist Steve Brown said overall Alabama’s cotton crop was good, great, and not-so-good.
“Many growers in the Tennessee Valley and in northeast Alabama have picked a superb crop. For some, it is there. Elsewhere, results are mixed, but in the southwestern and Gulf Coast regions of the state, yields have disappointed. In some areas, extremely so.
According to the Nov. 9 USDA crop report, Alabama growers expect an average yield of 909 pounds per acre, with a total of 710,000 bales from 375,000 harvested acres.
“No doubt, results from the northern parts of the state are responsible for the overall increase. Also, weeks of dry, open weather minimized losses to boll rot and hard lock, allowing us to pick more and better cotton than we would have otherwise.
Brown said overall quality was good, “and color grades from both classing offices are quite good, but especially from the Memphis office. In most years, about two thirds of the crop is classed in Macon and the remainder in Memphis. Though there are exceptions, cotton below I-20 goes to Macon and above goes to Memphis.”
The 2023 cotton season didn’t pan out just like Wendland hoped, but it was still a good year, Wendland said.
“I don't think there's anything that requires as much attention to detail and doing all the little things right. I think it's really rewarding to see that come to fruition at the end of the year in a good field cotton,” he said.
Read more about:Farm Life
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