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An Open Mind & Positive Outlook print email

Jon Hooton
Hooton Crop Care, Inc.
Plainview, Texas

 
My focus for 2011 is weed management.

West Texas farmers have been fortunate to have avoided the overwhelming weed resistance issue experienced in other parts of the Cotton Belt. However, we have to change our practices and farm smart. The perennial question is, “Do I really need to apply a pre-plant residual herbicide?” I answer, “We must act like we already have a major problem in order to prevent one from developing.”

The strategy is: Apply a residual with the burndown application and follow with another post-season. The latter would employ a different chemistry plus herbicides that allow rotation to another crop should the cotton fail. Also, using herbicides with different chemistries and rotating technologies, such as glyphosate/gluphosinate, helps buy time.

With commodity prices increasing, crop input costs are increasing, too. Fertilizer is proving critical. West Texas has the high probability of loss from hail, so farmers generally apply the bulk of fertilizer after the peak hail date once the crop is established. Last year that practice hurt us. A wet June and July meant that some fertilizer applications were either too late or missed, bringing yields below expectations.

Historically, every season brings shortages, such as mepiquat and ethephon in 2010. Both are essential for top performance. To counter possible high fertilizer costs and shortages, apply all the necessary phosphorus, potassium and zinc, along with at least 75 percent of the needed nitrogen, prior to planting. Plan ahead. Purchase enough of the basics to insure finishing the job.

Area farmers are facing very dry conditions as we enter the 2011 planting season, and I do not expect it to change. I think we are facing a hot, dry summer. Adjusting seeding rates to fit water availability and fine-tuning irrigation scheduling will be high priorities.

Consultants will play a key role in this strategy. I base my recommendations on monitoring soil moisture on a field-by-field basis, along with using data provided by our local Extension agents.

Every grower would like to take advantage of cotton prices that have gone beyond what anybody dreamed. Let’s remember the 2010 crop year taught us some hard lessons. Namely, that decisions must be based on common sense, not fear.

A sound rule is: Rely on principles that have been proved over the long haul. Marketing decisions must be based on a price you can live with and not trying to capture the last two cents before the downturn.

Moving forward in 2011 requires that everyone keep an open mind to new technologies, ideas, changes in cotton farming and maintaining a positive outlook.

Click here to ask Jon Hooton a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

• B.S. in Range Management (minor in Entomology) –
  Texas Tech University
• M.S. in Entomology – Texas Tech University
• Member of High Plains Association of Crop   Consultants
• Member of NAICC
• Actively farming cotton and corn
• Owner of Hooton Crop Care, Inc.
• Married to Nora. One son, Arjay, and two daughters,
  Mary and Sarah
• Enjoys hunting and insect collecting

Recap:
An Open Mind & Positive Outlook

1. So far, West Texas farmers have avoided the overwhelming weed resistance issue experienced in other parts of the Cotton Belt.

2. To help prevent this problem from developing, apply a residual herbicide with the burndown application and follow with another post- season.

3. Apply all the necessary phosphorus, potassium and zinc, along with at least 75 percent of nitrogen, prior to planting to counter possible high costs and shortages.

4. Adjust seeding rates to fit water availability and fine-tune your irrigation scheduling.

5. I monitor soil moisture on a field-by-field basis, along with using data provided by our local Extension agents.

6. Marketing decisions must be based on a price that you can live with and not trying to capture the last two cents before the downturn.

 

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