Alabama Cotton Producers Dealing With Aftermath of Hurricane Sally

Clint Thompson Alabama, Cotton, Weather

Photo by Alabama Farmers Federation/Hurricane Sally stalled over the Gulf Coast Sept. 16, wreaking havoc with heavy rain and wind. Eric Street examines his cotton crop in Fairhope in Baldwin County.

By Clint Thompson

Alabama cotton farmers continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, who just two days ago, upended this year’s work by producers in the southwest part of the state; specifically those in Escambia, Monroe and Baldwin Counties.

One of those producers, Ed Kane, who also serves as a consultant, discussed the impact Wednesday’s storm had on cotton in Baldwin County where he resides.

“In the county as far as cotton goes, we didn’t have anything defoliated. I hadn’t heard any that was defoliated. There was some within a week of getting defoliated,” said Kane, who scouts 10,000 acres. “We’re dealing with cotton flat on the ground right now syndrome. It would look good Wednesday but by yesterday it started to turn brown and take that look you know.”

Path of the Storm

Baldwin County was right in the path of the storm when it came ashore on Wednesday as a Category 2 Hurricane. Sally’s slow progression through the state allowed it to dump torrential rainfall with high winds that led to cotton plants being knocked over.

“We were in the bulls-eye,” said Kane, who estimates one/third to one/half of the crop in Baldwin County was lost.

Hurricane Sally’s impact was insult to injury for some cotton producers who were already battling diseases associated with other rain events.

“We were taking a hit with boll rot as it was from the previous rain, from the storm that went to Louisiana. That was a week-long rain event. Boll rot and Hardlock were just steadily climbing as the planting dates went and cotton was opening. Then here comes Sally,” Kane said. “The southwest area was definitely roughed up.”

Kane said debris in the fields will be a big challenge for producers once their crop matures and is ready for harvest. Farmers will also have to deal with inevitable quality issues. Kane also reported several center pivots that flipped over.