What is in this article?:
- Dave Long: Cotton held up to weather for 12 months
- Waiting actually helped
• The ground finally dried up enough to run the picker in early May, and Dave Long literally picked and planted in one field on the same day.
Picking cotton and planting cotton on the same day isn’t something Cape Charles, Va. grower Dave Long recommends.
But when Mother Nature forced him to do so, the results were much better than he ever imagined.
Long grows about a thousand aces of cotton on Virginia’s Eastern Shore Peninsula, near Cape Charles, Va.
His farm is located about two miles from the Atlantic Ocean on the east and two miles from the Chesapeake Bay to the west. To say that combination provides some interesting weather phenomena is a classic understatement.
“We are blanketed by water and our ground stays cool in the spring and proximity to the two large bodies of water keeps it from frosting early in the fall. Our land must be conventionally-tilled, because our soil is too cool for strip-tilling or no-tilling. Long says.
In 2010 dry weather pushed his cotton planting date back by several days. Typically this isn’t a big problem because of the frost-proofing characteristics of his unique farming location, which provides some flexibility at fall harvest time, compared to other areas of central and northern Virginia.
Unfortunately, the fall of 2010 was anything but typical on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
“We planted our cotton a little late, which pushed maturity back some, and subsequently delayed our harvest. Then we had the wettest November on record, with 25 inches of rain,” he recalls.
“After all the rain, we couldn’t get in the field to pick our cotton until December or January.
“We kept some fields of cotton in the ground 12 months. In a few fields of cotton we planted last May, we picked and planted cotton in some of those fields this May,” he says.
“I got my cotton picker stuck in the field on Jan. 10 of this year, and I couldn’t get it out. I couldn’t even walk through the field to the picker until the end of March,” he adds.
He says when he finally got to his picker, he got it stuck again and that was the final straw.
“I knew we would just tear the field apart trying to do anything at that time, so we decided to wait. The ground finally dried up enough to run the picker in early May, and we literally picked and planted in one field on the same day,” he says.