Cotton took its first hit with Tropical Storm Faye as well as an unusual amount of rain, high humidity and cloudy weather during a two week period in August. This caused hard locking and boll rot on cotton bolls beginning to open on the lower portions of the plant.
This was followed by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike which caused further damage to bolls resulting in even more yield loss.
Yield losses are estimated at 30 to 50 percent. To make matters worse, the 2008 crop was a very expensive crop. Most of the dollars spent on the crop had been spent by the time the storms hit.
Cotton gins will also feel the affects as they typically gin for the seed which is sold to produce income for the gin. A reduction in yield and acres translates into less seed. There are currently five gins operating in Richland Parish.
The cotton industry across the state and Richland Parish has been declining in recent years due to major reductions in planted acres.
Richland Parish had approximately 8,700 acres of cotton in 2008.
In 1995, just thirteen years ago, the parish had 135,000 planted acres. I do not know of any cotton producing parish in Louisiana where the cotton industry has been hit as hard as Richland Parish in the last 10 to 20 years.
Farming is a risky business which is why producers must grow those crops that give them the best chance to be profitable and stay in business. Cotton prices have been generally stagnant in recent years and where grains have been more positive.
Without some positive upward movement in the cotton market, I just do not see cotton acres increasing.