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Rain delays cotton season

Sheria Brathwaite

Rain delays cotton season
A worker at the Ministry of Agriculture selfing cotton bolls. (FILE)

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The 2021 cotton harvest season has been delayed due to bad weather, says agronomist with the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, Nyah Nyhathu.

The season was to start last Friday, he said, but heavy showers affected the plants’ ripening stages.

“Initially we were on target to start at the end of January but the rain has pushed us back tentatively for two weeks,” Nyhathu said.

“When the water dries out of the plant, it triggers the process called dehiscing, which occurs when the pods break on their own and open up. But right now the plants are in a ‘vegetative’ mode; because of the amount of moisture the plants have, the ripening stage we would like has not been triggered. So the weather is an external factor really out of our control. It is also an issue for us because its conditions are what pests like – plants that look nice and green and lush.

“Once we see signs of senescence (aging), when the plant is losing water and the leaves start to drop, [which is] a sign that the plant is ready for harvesting, we would actively move to open up to the public.”

There are seven harvesting areas across the island, which comprise: Constant Farm, Dash Valley, St George; Searles Farm, Newton, Christ Church;  Mount Pleasant Farm, Parish Land, St Philip; Three Houses Farm, Fortesque, St Philip; Redland Farm, Wakefield, St John; Rock Hall Farm, Four Hill, St Peter and Bromefield Farm, Harrison, St Lucy. (SB)