COTTON PLANTING UNDERWAY ACROSS MOST OF ALABAMA
State ag experts predict that more cotton will be planted in Alabama this year, and farmers in the Tennessee Valley are well on their way to setting this year's crop. Many south Alabama farmers are waiting for spring showers to begin planting. An agronomist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System says cotton farmers in north Alabama are taking advantage of the good weather to complete their planting.
"Some producers in south Limestone County will be finished planting in the next few days," said Charles Burmester, who is based at the Tennessee Valley Regional Research and Extension Center in Belle Mina. "They got started earlier than other farmers in the Valley. But I expect by the end of April, cotton planting will be more than 60 percent complete in the Tennessee Valley."
Burmester said some cotton planted early in April is up and developing into good stands.
"The planting season has been good so far," says Burmester. "The warm 80-degree days balanced out those few days of cold weather. "
He added that recent cool nights probably are the cause for slower emergence of recently planted cotton. Cotton planting is not as far along in the other areas of the state.
Dr. Dale Monks, an Extension crop physiologist said about 20 percent of the state's total cotton crop has been planted.
"It's good planting weather now," said Monks. "But soil moisture is a growing concern for farmers in some parts of the state."
Portions of central and south Alabama have been dry. Fairhope in Baldwin County is almost 2.5 inches below normal for the month.
"Some farmers in central and south Alabama are waiting for a rain before they plant," said Monks. "But we're in better shape this year with rainfall than we were last year at this time."
By late April 2000, much of Alabama was sliding into the drought that gripped the state from late spring into fall. Monks expects cotton acreage will be up in the state this year. One estimate is that about 600,000 acres will be planted in cotton this year in Alabama, up 2 percent from 2000. Cotton is grown across the state, but the most dense acreage is concentrated in the Tennessee Valley. USDA predicts that cotton plantings for 2001 nationwide are expected to total 15.6 million acres, up less than 1 percent from last year. This would be the largest acreage since 1995 and the second largest since 1962.