Cotton crop coming on strong

Published 10:29 pm Monday, August 15, 2011

A cotton plant, almost ready to bloom, is one of many in the Black Belt. This farm, located on Ala. Hwy. 22 just outside Orrville, is one of several in Dallas County that took advantage of the plant’s ability to withstand dry temperatures. -- Rick Couch

An unusually hot and dry summer has made crop farming a little tougher this year for many Black Belt farmers.

However, an old, familiar crop to the area continues to thrive.

Cotton, a crop that had a large role in the settlement of the area through the years, has continued to produce despite tough conditions.

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Local farmer Brad Smith said more moisture would be helpful, but overall the crop has held its own.

“The crop overall has been decent, but the weather has had an effect on it,” he said. “It still has a lot of potential, but we’ll need about another month with some moisture. It might not be a record-breaking year, but we will still have a pretty good crop.”

Because of the area’s brutal summers, Alabama Cotton Producers director Buddy Adamson said cotton is considered a safe choice for many area farmers. This year, he said it has again proven to be reliable.

“It is a crop where the price has been good this year, which is really important because of the weather extremes,” he said. “Cotton is a crop that is fairly resistant to weather, so it really stands out in some areas. I think, in an area like Dallas County where there hasn’t been a lot of moisture, people are going to be glad they planted it.”

One farmer who returned to cotton after a brief hiatus, Sam Givhan, said his crop is looking good, but also stressed more rain would be helpful.

“This is the first year I have planted any since 2006, and I haven’t been around a lot of people who have planted it, but ours is looking pretty good,” he said. “We need another good rain, because it has been pretty dry here in west Dallas. We’ve had some rain, but now it seems to be getting dry again.”

Dallas County and the rest of the state are extremely important to the nation’s annual cotton yield.

According to information from the Alabama Cotton Producers, Alabama ranks ninth in the United States in cotton production.

The Producers estimate for every $40 pair of denim jeans sold, the farmer gets $1.46. He gets 41 cents for a $35 men’s shirt, and 45 cents for a $14 terry bath towel.

One bale of cotton can produce 8,000 men’s woven handkerchiefs, 850 ladies blouses and shirts, 3,000 diapers, and 1,200 pillowcases.
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