While many other parts of the U.S. have suffered mightily this year from drought, most of Alabama has seen plenty of rainfall, and cotton has responded in a good way, says Dale Monks, Auburn University Extension cotton specialist.

“June was very hot with some cooler nights, but we’ve been picking up some rains,” said Monk during the recent East Alabama Crops Tour.

“We’re seeing good yield potential, but we still need to get through the remainder of August and September, and then harvest will be upon us.”

Extension Entomologist Ron Smith thinks the state could see a record-high average yield this year.

“I really think there’s no area of the state that is going to pull down the overall yield average,” says Smith.

“According to the crop reporting service, we’re at about 780 pounds per acre now, and if we can finish out this crop without diseases limiting our yield, we have a chance, for the first time in history, to go over 800 pounds per acre in Alabama this year. It’s consistently good to excellent across the state.”

This year, it was estimated that Alabama cotton producers planted about 390,000 acres, says Monks.

“It’s hard to predict this far ahead, but we know that for those who are planting corn next year, some of those decisions have to be made now because of the shortage of seed we may have next spring, given the weather conditions in the Midwest,” he says.

Wheat acres are expected to increase this fall in north Alabama and throughout the state, he says.

“We’re expecting a decrease in cotton acres and an increase in soybeans. The cotton price bubble didn’t last very long. But the good thing about cotton is that you can store it for a long time,” says Monks.

Researchers in five states are continuing a three-year project to look at options for controlling thrips on cotton, says Smith.

“We’re looking at what our alternatives are in the absence of Temik. With our seed treatments, I think we’ll be able to survive, even if we don’t get a Temik substitute back on the market.

“We can cover thrips, but more than anything else, we’ll miss Temik for nematode control and for spider mites. Spider mites are an up-and-coming pest. We really didn’t realize that so much this year because of the rainfall in July and August. There’s a low level of mites in a lot of these fields that would flare in hot, dry weather conditions.”

Seed treatments appear to be working well, says Smith.