The Isle of Wight County lost one-third of its entire cotton crop this year mainly due to torrential rain that drenched the area in September and October. It is a county located in the U.S. state of Virginia. The County was named after the Isle of Wight.
The Isle of Wight County board of supervisors voted last week to ask Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare the county an agriculture disaster area. This, according to them would enable farmers to apply for low-interest emergency loans. Cotton thrives in dry heat and the crop has done well in the county, according to Rex Alphin, farmer and chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Unfortunately this year, after Hurricane Matthew, farmers were shocked to see how much cotton was actually lost, Alphin exclaimed. The total loss was estimated at $2.4 million.
Alphin planted 150 acres of cotton on his 1,400 acre farm on River Run Trail and lost roughly half of that. A lot of farmers fall back on crop insurance but can't live off the insurance year after year, he observed.
Spencer Neale, secretary of the Virginia Cotton Grower's Association and Virginia Farm Bureau employee, said that crop insurance reimburses the farmers for lost crops but doesn't assist with quality-related loss. Johnny Parker, who's worked at the Commonwealth Gin in Windsor for 20 years, said that the average cotton yield in the county is about two bails per acre or roughly around 1,100 pounds. Parker believes that the county lost a large chunk as much as 400 pounds per acre during a particularly muggy and rainy three-week stretch. Despite this year's disappointing yield in cotton, farmers here are hopeful about the crop.