WRENS, Ga. (WJBF)- Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but first cotton farmers around the state have some work to do.
“I love the outdoors to begin with, I love to farm. I love to see the fruits of your labor, and you get to see it from the time you plant the seed to all the way to fruition to the harvest,” said local farmer Jeremy Gay.
But this year’s harvest has raised questions because of Hurricane Idalia.
Some counties toward south Georgia counties saw more damage than the rest of the state, which means the cotton crop also took a hit.
“They had severe winds, heavy rainfall. The cotton and the stage it was in for most acres probably got blown around a lot. That’ll keep the top bowls on that crop from opening up, and therefore you can’t harvest the land off of them,” said Georgia Cotton Commission Executive Director Taylor Sills.
Fortunately for local areas, the impact was not as bad–but some took a bigger hit from a dry season in August.
“At that point the cotton begins to shut down, hold on to what fruit it has, and it doesn’t fully mature to what we call “the top crop”, the last fruit that it puts on. I would say those three weeks in August hurt us significantly,” said Gay.
And in turn, it impacts costs for consumers.
“The prices we’re getting for the crop hasn’t changed, but the prices for the end users–for jeans, socks, apparel, whatever–they’ve gone up. But it hasn’t translated to grower profits. So, somebody in the supply chain is getting it, but it’s not here,” said Gay.
Sills says having a good harvest is key for farmers, because it puts money in their pocket so they can do what they do.
“When Jeremy goes to buy his input products, and other farmers go to buy seed and chemicals and equipment and all these things, those dollars touch a lot of hands locally. They have a lot of benefits to not only a county government or city government from taxes, but paying those employees,” said Sills.
“Profitability can mean a lot to that employee in the year, whether it’s a bonus or something like that, because our farmers are the backbone of so many of our rural communities like Wrens, where we are today.”
Farmers will wrap up the picking season by Thanksgiving.