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June 28: Thoughts on early season plant growth regulators

Quick update on recommended timing and strategies for first mepiquat applications

The difficulties of #Plant19 are almost all but behind us, as we have reached the 98% planted mark across Georgia according to USDA Crop Progress reports. Up only 2% from last year, generally we have stayed ahead of the planting schedule in comparison to averages, even after slow starts and a long period of very poor conditions. Almost 50% of our acres have reached squaring, with a lot of the earliest planted cotton producing bolls. With continued heat and timely rain showers, we are starting to see the making of what hopes to be a productive year with slumping prices consistently sitting under 70 cents.

After hot and dry conditions stretched planting, we are now starting to think more about getting our 2019 crop in check for the remainder of the growing season. Monitoring our current progress and environmental conditions will be crucial to keep our acres manageable and directing carbohydrates towards fruit production as opposed to vegetation. When scouting our acres, we need to be closely watching for squares along with stem elongation between nodes. Starting to manage our crop early will insure timely maturity and limit the need for overly aggressive rates later in the season when the crop may start to try and get away from us. A taller crop, if preferred, is still possible with this early application, getting our plant growth regulator out early is primarily beneficial in speeding up the process of generating fruit positions. Full season varieties, especially under irrigation will need more aggressive rates than early and mid-maturing cultivars. Very late planted or lower plant populations may also require more aggressive applications, tailored to the specific field, to promote earliness.

Also important will be inspecting locations of root zones, available soil moisture, and looking into the 5-day futures forecast prior to sending the sprayer to the field. Dry spells will tend to hold back our growth naturally. Determining soil moisture available to the root zone is crucial. If we are currently dry or not expecting rain in the coming days, pushing our application to just prior to a better chance of showers is advised. However, if our taproots have been tracking deeper through the soil profile, following moisture, dry surface conditions may be misleading, and growth regulator applications may still be required. If in question, contact myself or your local territory manager for an in-field assessment.

Plots are off and running across the state, with PhytoGen varieties continuing to demonstrate its grasp on the market in regards to emergence and early season vigor. PhytoGen Enlist cotton varieties have shown improved tolerance to glufosinate allowing for lower instances of crop injury when tank mixed with residuals. The bottom image below demonstrates PHY 480 W3FE (right) next to a competitor Xtendflex variety (left) 2 weeks after an application of glufosinate + Dual.

Also very exciting to see in the field in 2019 are the PhytoGen brand nematode resistant varieties on display in production fields or small demonstration plots. Two-gene resistance to root knot nematode in varieties such PHY 580 W3FE and PHY 480 W3FE provide protection from both feeding and reproduction, eliminating the need for a nematicide material added in-furrow at planting as well as majorly reducing populations for the next season. If you would like to take a look at our nematode resistance in a field near you, contact myself or your local territory manager to arrange visits.




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.

COTTON DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST:

SHAWN BUTLER, PH.D.

Shawn Butler is the PhytoGen cotton development specialist for central and eastern Georgia. A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Shawn holds a doctorate in agronomy and crop science and a master’s degree in crop pathology, both from the University of Tennessee, specializing in application technology, precision agriculture and remote sensing. He enjoys helping cotton producers find applied solutions and implementing technology to overcome agronomic challenges. When Shawn isn’t scouting fields and visiting with growers, he enjoys following sports, playing golf, boating, and projects around the yard and home.