The USDA Crop Progress report has Georgia cotton at about 90% harvested. Our five year average for this time of year is about 75%. The dry weather has made for excellent harvest conditions and many producers never stopped harvesting cotton once they started other than waiting for some fields to defoliate. The dry, hot summer and dry early fall have also had an effect on Georgia cotton yields. Earlier in the year USDA had our yields around 970 pound per acre. The latest report has our statewide average at 915 pounds per acre. This is more in line with what most producers have told us although we may see yields adjusted further down. Our 5 year average is 910 pounds per acre and most growers have reported “below average” yields. The two hurricanes that hit the Georgia cotton crop may also have had more of an impact than the USDA numbers are showing. Follow updates on our website over the next month to see the latest cotton crop reports.
Below is a graph of the GA cotton crop condition as reported by USDA with the two hurricanes inserted on the day they made landfall. You can see the largest portion of the crop was rated “Good” throughout the year but it fell from a season high at the beginning of the year to a season low at the end of the reported year. Notice “Poor” and “Very Poor” rose throughout the year. Both “Excellent” and “Fair” remained at about the same levels throughout the year.
This past week at the Georgia Cotton Commission we have participated in several more ag awareness days. The Brookwood School visited BCT Gin in Quitman on Monday. BCT and Georgia Cotton Commission staff taught the group about the cotton gin and the importance of the cotton industry to the Georgia economy. The group was able to see firsthand how a gin works and how cotton is processed here in Georgia. The students also got to see cotton being harvested. On Thursday we had the privilege of participating in Pine Grove Elementary School’s annual ag day at Cat Creek Cattle Company near Valdosta. Here we spent most of the day visiting with small groups of students teaching them about the history of cotton in Georgia, how cotton is processed, and the food products that contain cottonseed oil. Including this past week’s visits, the students visited with this past spring and fall, and the cotton education materials that were mailed to students in Georgia and across the country, we have reached over 14,000 students in 2016. For more information about our education program or to download any education materials, visit our website at GeorgiaCottonCommission.org and click the ‘Education’ tab or call our office in Perry at 478-988-4235.
Last week the Georgia Cotton Commission was able to help coordinate a farm visit for Congressman Austin Scott as he traveled the 8th district meeting with constituents. We were pleased that Congressman Scott was already aware of the very tight financial conditions faced by cotton farmers this year due to the low price of cotton, the prolonged drought, and yield loss caused by the hurricanes. We were also pleased that Congressman Scott is already thinking of ways to improve the safety net programs for growers in the next farm bill.
Also, this week we had the pleasure of teaching over 700 elementary school kids about cotton in Commerce GA for their annual farm day. It is important that we reach school aged children in non-cotton growing areas to help them understand how big of an impact cotton has on their lives, as well as how big of an impact cotton has on the economy of Georgia. If you have a local school that does a farm day and they do not currently have cotton on the program, please reach out to us and we will do our best to make as many farm days as possible.