USDA Estimate Shows Hurricane Damage to SE

In the first Crop Production Report since Hurricane Michael and the first good estimates since Hurricane Florence, the USDA has reduced the Southeast’s cotton production from 5.691 Million bales to 4.31 Million bales. That’s a total reduction of 1.381 Million bales from the September 1 report. Most estimates had over a million bale reduction but I’m not sure it was expected to drop that much.

All Southeastern states indicated significant reductions to crops from the September 1 to November 1. Alabama showed a reduction of 215,000 bales or 19.6%. Florida dropped from 220,000 bales to 125,000 which is about 43%. Georgia dropped from 2.8 Million to 1.95 Million or 30%. North Carolina lost 116,000 bales or about 14.3%, while South Carolina dropped 14.5% or about 80,000 bales. Even Virginia lost more than 10%, giving up 25,000 bales to the hurricanes.

While Florence was a very destructive storm flooding a lot of fields and whipping cotton in a big chunk of NC and SC. It seems that Michael had his eye set on taking out as much cotton as possible. Hitting the Florida panhandle and moving almost directly over the heart of the cotton growing portions of the region. Running from Florida to the Virginia coast, most ginners told me in the past few weeks that Michael did as much if not more damage than Florence. The exception to that of course are the areas where Florence parked and rained herself out.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure we didn’t lose more than what has been indicated on the report. Traveling around the region in September and October before the storm, I can tell you that the SW part of Georgia had the best cotton I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure that September 1 estimate of 2.8 Million for GA wasn’t a bit low yet and Georgia may have seen 3 Million bales but we’ll never know. Most places across the region have told me that the 2018 crop was the best ever in their areas as well. We know we can grow a big crop, we just need to figure out how to put a big shelter over it when it’s as vulnerable.