Anticipation for much needed rains over the past month has been high. But we have been blessed with consistent rainfall over the past week and weekend with almost all of the major cotton growing counties in Southeast Georgia falling into the adequate soil moisture range. Reports from Berrien and Effingham Counties suggested over 10” of rainfall in a 24-hour period. The increased rain has been rapidly absorbed through soil profiles, putting us back into excellent planting conditions for late or replanted acres. It also helped our emergence in many areas possessing skippy stands. As of 9-June, USDA reports placed cotton planting at 90% completed, still up 6% from last year’s pace.
As we wrap up #Plant19, my focus this week is the evaluation of cotton stands for this year's in-season management. Many stand issues I have seen have been ultimately related to planting depth (top left). Seed dusted-in tended to sprout, scorch, and immediately die off from excessive ground surface temperatures (bottom left and right). Seeds planted just above the moisture are starting to sprout, if not previously germinated and trapped under heavily crusted soils. Seeds dropped just into moisture are at full stand, but if dropped too deep, they have majorly not been able to break the crust and reach the light to start their life. The biggest challenge is all of the described can be found within the same 10’ of planted row.
We are always looking for uniform stands of 1 plant per-row-foot or roughly 15,000 plants per acre for optimum yield potential. Due to the length in time difference from planting to the recent rains, multiple stages are being found in fields, with cotyledon and squaring cotton existing as neighbors (top right). In this event, it is my recommendation to re-evaluate our current crop with stand counts.
Determine what stage the majority of the crop exists within the particular field. For example, if taking 10 random counts, with around two plants per foot, and over 50% of these plants are at an 8-leaf stage, we should manage the field as such. Young cotton will already be delayed, and early applications with growth regulators should only help to early-up maturity. If primarily most of our cotton is at cotyledon stage with neighbors quite a few leaves further along, we should manage as if the crop has just been planted and emerged.
Delayed applications of growth regulators and nitrogen will also delay the early emerged crop, whereas height may not be consistent, fruiting stages should even up as the season progresses. With root systems developing in totally different soil profile depths, and above ground vegetation at variable stages, it will be very difficult to make applications beneficial to the inconsistent stages of growth. Determining what stage of the crop exists in the greatest population, managing the field or area of the field as such, and remaining dedicated to these decisions will help to optimize this year’s crop from such an unusual planting season.
Earliest planted cotton has continued to look terrific with taproots following the moisture. Little evidence of scorching has been seen and I just received my first photo of bolls from PhytoGen® brand PHY 444 WRF planted in Dooly County. If you have a few acres left to finish up, consider PHY 350 W3FE which will fit very well as we wrap up the planting window. While PHY 350 W3FE can be pushed to more of a mid-maturing variety, especially under irrigation, it also can be managed to finish quickly, ensuring bolls reach the basket this fall.
A PhytoGen experimental variety, PX3B07 has consistently proven to win trials across this state in regards to emergence and early season vigor. One can simply get a stand of PX3B07 anywhere, on top of asphalt and drowned in wet spots alike! If interested in learning more about PX3B07, contact me or your local PhytoGen territory manager to discuss this variety on your acres.
For more information about cotton production practices in your area, contact your state Extension cotton specialist. As always, your PhytoGen cotton development specialist is available to discuss options.