Intense July heat and dry weather shortened the bloom period for much of the crop, Collins said. A shortened bloom period, compounded by the return of rains in August, caused new vegetative growth to develop. This is not good during harvest. New vegetation can stain or discolor cotton lint, resulting in a lower quality or higher trash content.

The top bolls, or the fruit that eventually opens to make the lint, are immature or are otherwise difficult to open in some fields, he said, compared to bolls lower on the plant. The cooler weather could be causing them to stay closed.

“Hopefully, time and some warm sunny weather will help us out,” Collins said. “If it doesn’t open, it is rendered unharvestable. The top bolls mean more to the growers this year because prices are elevated. We are not dealing with exceptional yields in many cases. They are counting on those top bolls to earn a little more money.”

Two leaf spot diseases are causing problems in some fields, Kemerait said. Stemphyllium leaf spot disease causes leaves to fall off before a plant is mature, which prevents bolls from fully developing. Corynespora leaf spot causes rapid defoliation of plants and doesn’t allow the bolls to open properly. It is hitting fields in southwest Georgia.

Georgia soybean growers are expected to average 31 bushels per acre, 5 bushels off last year’s average. Soybean harvest is also under way.

Corn harvest is complete, and growers expect to average 140 bushels per acre, matching last year’s record-setting average.