Cotton crop may set 2 records

WINNSBORO (AP) — Louisiana cotton could set both a record high and a record low this year.
The 128,000 acres planted this year was the second straight record low. But LSU AgCenter cotton specialist David Kerns says farmers have a good chance at a record high yield.
“I’ve seen dry land cotton picking as much as three bales to the acre. I’ve seen some four-bale irrigated acres. Those are exceptional yields,” he said.
Much of the land planted in cotton was in areas that typically see higher yields, Kerns said in a news release Tuesday.
A bale of cotton weighs about 500 pounds, according to the National Cotton Council. “A technical bale is 500 lbs. but most real bales weigh about 480 lbs. or so,” Kerns said in an email.
The yield record of 1,017 pounds per acre was set in 2007.
Last year’s 225,000 acres had been the lowest since Louisiana began tracking cotton production
Cotton, like other crops, benefited from a summer that never got too hot, too dry or too wet.
“Temperatures weren’t exceptionally hot, and so we retained a lot more fruit in those conditions. We had good rainfall, and the insects weren’t real bad. We were successful in managing those pests,” Kerns said.
Harvest weather also was ideal, he said.
Prices remain low, so Kerns doesn’t expect acreage to increase much next year.
“It boils down to simple economics,” he said. “The farmers are making more money growing corn and soybeans than they are cotton right now, so that is what they are going to plant.”
But with fewer farmers planting less cotton, gins could close and farmers could sell off their equipment.
Four gins closed last year, leaving 28 open, the AgCenter said earlier this year. 
Some were dismantled and the equipment sold, while others were waiting for a rebound in cotton planting.

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