Warm October may help local cotton farmers

ATHENS Ala. -- You may be hoping for fall weather to hurry up and get here, but for many industries, this heat helps business.

Highs in the 80's, even 90's, isn't unheard of for an Alabama October but may be too warm for people wanting to break out their fall sweaters. This warm weather is a blessing for many local farmers.

"I'm happy to see the sun shining today. A lot of people are ready for fall but this heat, it'll help our cotton crop," said Jerry Newby, a partner at Newby Farms in Athens.

He said his cotton crop still needs to dry out from recent rain.

"The rain has affected the quality of the cotton because you're looking for that light color on cotton, that real white. And the more it rains on it the darker it will become," Newby said.

The farmer said dirt leaves will stick to wet cotton and can stain it, leading to quality issues once it's picked.

"It hurts your bottom line. Not only that but it just kind of puts us further behind," said Newby.
He said normally September and October is the dry window to start getting his crop.

"If you push it into November, and even early December, you start to see more rain typically. It just prolongs everything and hurts the quality," Newby said.

He said that the on and off rain, even if it's light, prevents the cotton from drying out, so this sunny warm October is a blessing.

"As the days get shorter production goes down in the field cause you're not able to work as long. It's always better to pick cotton in September and October, than it is November or December," Newby said.

So when you feeling like it's too warm to pick pumpkins or sip cider, just remember all the good it's doing for next year's cotton.

The cotton crop in North Carolina took a big hit after hurricane Florence. Some estimates indicate 25 to 30 percent of North Carolina's cotton crop has been lost.