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From the Ground Up: Rain Is Impacting Cotton Harvest

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 7:25 AM CDT
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BURLESON COUNTY, Texas (KBTX) - When you see fields of white cotton this time of year, it means the cotton plant has been sprayed with a defoliant to make it drop its leaves so the cotton can be picked. What a cotton farmer doesn’t want during his harvest is the rain we’ve been experiencing over the last two weeks. John Malazzo grows cotton in Burleson County.

“As long as the cotton has leaves on it you’ve got some protection from the weather, from the rain. Once you get the leaves off then you are really open and susceptible to whatever Mother Nature gives you. And that’s a period of time that we worry about because as it is right now we’re too wet to harvest.”

Malazzo says it’s been too long since the cotton was defoliated.

“It’s been long enough now where our initial defoliation has played out. The plant is actually re-growing now so we’re going to have to go through the process all over again. Not only does it add cost to you of the defoliant and the application, but it also delays you a couple of weeks. It also affects the grade of our cotton.”

Malazzo fears that continued wet weather will cause even more problems.

“What we’re facing if this wet weather stays with us much longer, we’re going to see a decline in our quality to where it brings less money. We also have an issue, once that boll opens and the seed is exposed to moisture, if it stays damp long enough and stays warm, that seed will actually sprout in the burr which gives you ginning trouble. You can’t gin it when the seed has a big ole long root on it and it’s embedded in the cotton and plus it degrades the price of your cotton seed too.”

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