The Arkansas cotton crop remains extremely variable. Cotton growth ranges from emerging to 10-11 nodes, with the majority of the crop averaging between 4 and 6 leaves. The USDA Agricultural Statistical Service estimates that as of Monday June 13, 93% of the cotton crop was emerged with only 9% of the crop squaring, compared to 40% squaring this time last year and the 5 year average of 27%. There is no doubt that the majority of the crop is behind, a very similar situation to the 2009 cotton crop. In 2009, rain and cool weather during April and May delayed planting much like this year. We all remember how 2009 ended; what we are hoping for this year is heat unit accumulation similar to the 2010 season. If we are fortunate to experience fall weather similar to 2010, then we will accumulate more than enough heat units to mature this late-planted crop. High yields are still a possibility, but all is riding on warm September temperatures to finish the crop.
Much of the cotton across the state has finally turned the corner (save a few fields hit with hail and sand) and is growing and fruiting rapidly, thanks to the higher temperatures and sunny weather for the last several days. The high heat unit (DD60) accumulation across the middle and southern part of the state this week has been perfect for growth and development of seedling cotton, and new nodes can be found every 2.5 to 3 days. While the Northeastern portion of Arkansas continued to get scattered storms with high winds and locally heavy rains, Southern Arkansas continues to be in a drought. Cotton health continues to be an issue on a few fields, and some of this cotton acreage may still be destroyed and planted to beans. The USDA Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that 43% of the Arkansas cotton crop is in good to excellent condition, with 42% fair and 15% poor or very poor.