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Cotton Farmers Troubled by Low Prices, Bug Problems

By Joe Sullivan
By jsullivan@wbbjtv.com

There's another bug in town area farmer's are not happy about. It's enough to make them "cotton pick-in" mad. For the past five years cotton farmers put up with insects known as thrips which have done the most damage to cotton.

Farmers may have to be lucky when it comes to cotton. Jason Luckey is a cotton farmer in Gibson County. He may need more than his namesake since he is concerned about a new enemy of cotton, plant bugs.

Jason Luckey said, "I'm hearing some of my farming friends and scouting buddies talking and the plant bug will suck on the actual fruiting bud itself."

Chris Main is an expert when it comes to cotton.

Chris Main said, "Thrips actually puncture the leaves themselves and they will feed on the gooey sap and stuff inside the cells and kind of make the plant wither a little bit and be stunted."

Cotton growing acres in West Tennessee are down twenty five percent from last year.

It is not only the pesky pests plant bugs hurting the crop but the price is down because of a cotton surplus.

Last spring cotton was going for two dollars a pound. It's currently at seventy cents per pound.

Main said, "The main reason for the lower price is there is a large world carry over of cotton stocks. So it's just like a supply and demand curve. If the supply is high, demand is low the price is going to be lower."

Cotton provides 3.1 billion dollars a year in revenue to the state of Tennessee. According to farmers you have to make 80 cents a pound on cotton to be profitable.

Luckey said, "It is a high expense crop that takes a lot of management. Lot of time and probably folks don't realize when they see how pretty it is they think he's making all kinds of money."

Only time will tell if the harvest will yield a profit for the Tennessee farmer.

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