I have to say, it has been too long since I stepped into a cotton field, so when people send me photos online reminding me where we are in the cotton season, I get pretty excited. Seemed like a good time to do a quick status check on the crop since a couple of people have sent me photos from the field!
Last week, my friend Rebecca Subbiah of Chow and Chatter tweeted:
— RebeccaSubbiah RDN ? (@chowandchatter) September 15, 2014
Of course I immediately knew that was a cotton plant but I didn’t reply quickly. When John said it was definitely not a pumpkin, Rebecca tweeted another clue and a smile. And I have to say it made it an easy guess for everyone.
With the second photo I had to ask Rebecca whether the fiber and the blooms were on the same plant. See a lot of time in the fall, plants will have bolls opening on the bottom of the plant. Those are the first bolls to form and they are near the ground so they tend to get all the nutrients and water they need first to fill out. The plant keeps putting on blooms since cotton is a perennial plant.
Though the blooms are pretty — and the one at top event shows it has self-pollinated and is turning pink! — these are pretty much wasted energy for the plant right now. Farmers will go into their fields in the fall (some have already started picking in some places} and will determine when they should start harvesting knowing days are getting shorter and it is less and less likely that flowers will have time to become bolls.
What’s funny is just the day before, a friend who is a cotton ginner tweeted me a photo saying they were finally up and running. Harvest in South Georgia was getting far enough along that the gin was beginning to separate seed from lint.
If you’d like to know how the cotton crop is doing in a certain state, the USDA-NASS publishes the crop progress report each Monday. There are statistics for the percentage of cotton has bolls opening (those numbers are strong this week), cotton harvested (it is really early on this one) and the overall condition of the crop.
I need to find time to catch some cotton in the field…. I am long overdue! In the meantime, if you are seeing some cotton, feel free to share the love! I welcome cotton sightings!