(Tim Jaynes, Staff)
A majority of the state's cotton crop is rated good by the Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service, but that came as no surprise to Robert Gonzalez, who was busy chopping weeds out of a cotton field north of Salcedo Road. Cotton boll opening was at 55 percent last week, at least five days ahead of last year and ahead of the five-year average. Southeast Missouri has avoided much of the dry weather experienced elsewhere in Missouri. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt Friday requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture declare all but 18 of Missouri's 114 counties natural disaster areas. The declaration request did not include Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid or Stoddard counties.