In addition to the optimal moisture experienced in 2012, Georgia saw a rather mild end to the summer — in terms of heat unit accumulation. This may have slowed development of the cotton bolls causing slower than normal boll opening.

Farmers usually wrap up the cotton harvest in late fall, but some are still waiting for their bolls to open. Most of the remaining cotton should be harvested by mid- to late-November, because not much additional boll development occurs after prolonged cool temperatures and especially after the first severe frost, Collins said.

“It’s been a very slow year in terms of having those upper bolls mature and open,” he said. “We just really didn’t have the extremely warm temperatures that we usually see at the end of the summer that help these bolls develop on time.”

Experts like Collins anticipate a record yield for the state, but say it’s still too early to tell what the final statewide average yield will be.

Record-breaking yields may not turn into record profits for farmers. Like with peanuts — this year’s other surprise boom crop — cotton farmers have seen prices drop over the growing season.

See Georgia peanut growers well pleased with early harvest and Georgia peanut growers could see record yields this year.

Farmers who locked in prices with their buyers back in the winter and early spring will do well, but others will be dependent even more on their increased yields to make a profit, Shurley said.

“Prices have really turned out to be somewhat disappointing this year,” he said.

You can check current commodity prices now.

“Last winter and early this spring prices were 90 cents per pound and now we’re in the mid-70s. Some farmers did contract their crop when prices were higher, but if they didn’t contract their crop 20 cents ago then they are disappointed with the prices … Prices have declined but they can hopefully make up that with some of the strong yield of the crop.”