Hayes Agricultural Services, Inc.
Mississippi’s King Cotton has us guessing this year! As consultants in
the hospitality state, we have all wondered if we would ever again experience
the cotton acres we had previously. This year, with the price being
well over a dollar per pound, the cotton crop has come roaring back.
However, Mother Nature has decided to throw everything she has at us,
from cold weather at planting time to extreme heat, from record floods to
extreme drought. We have even experienced endless wind topped off with
a little hail.
Now as we pass mid-season and head into harvest with what appears
to be a very good crop, everyone asks, “What is it going to take to finish
up this year’s harvest?” We can’t predict the future, but there are a few
things we can do to plan ahead.
First, it is important to keep weeds under strict control. Fortunately, in
my area of central Mississippi, few places are infested with resistant pigweeds.
However, fields that aren’t currently troubled with pigweed should
still be checked carefully, and farmers should have zero tolerance for
weed infestation. Even if farmers are diligent in using a variety of residual
herbicides, it takes only one overlooked pigweed to cause problems for
Second, it is especially essential to stay vigilant in fighting insect pests.
So far, insect populations have been fairly light, but as corn and soybeans
finish their season and begin drying up, we will undoubtedly witness a
large influx of plant bugs and stink bugs migrating into adjacent cotton
fields. We will also spend the majority of August fighting worms in our
All dedicated consultants understand that it takes a lot of boot prints out
in the fields to help safeguard against pest infiltration. Only diligence in
insect monitoring combined with balanced and consistent pesticide use
ensure against catastrophic damage.
Third, productive soil that provides optimum cotton production doesn’t
just happen by chance. Planning ahead is the only way to establish high
quality land, and August is the best time to make plans for the soil work
that must be done this fall.
As the high heat begins to stress the crops, soil problems become more
evident. Something as simple as sampling the soil to determine if there
are nutrient deficiencies or low pH could make all the difference. Soil
analysis also will determine if nematodes are a problem in a specific area
or if a hardpan is restricting root growth in some fields.
Of course, we won’t know the outcome until the cotton is actually in the
basket, but if we keep walking the fields, hopefully there will be a great
yield to go along with the record prices.
Click here to ask Brian Hayes a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.
• B.S. in Agronomy – Mississippi State University
• Consulting for 14 years. Crops include cotton,
soybeans, milo, peanuts and wheat.
• Member of the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants
• Served on the MACA Board of Directors for
• Served as the MACA Secretary/Treasurer for
• Married to wife, Lindsey. Three children: Miller, 11;
Rachel, 6; and Scott Ross, 6 months
• Enjoys hunting, fishing, spending time with family
helping his two oldest children with their show
Plan Ahead For A Successful Finish
1. Have zero tolerance for weeds. Even if residuals were used, it takes only one overlooked pigweed to cause problems for next year.
2. Stay vigilant in fighting insect pests. As corn and soybeans finish up, plant bugs and stink bugs will migrate into adjacent cotton.
3. Be prepared to fight worms in conventional cotton in August.
4. Monitor fields carefully for insects and practice balanced and consistent pesticide use.
5. Make plans for the soil work that must be done this fall.
6. As high heat begins to stress the crop, soil problems will become more evident.
7. Soil sampling can identify nutrient deficiencies or low p H.
8. Soil analysis also will determine if nematodes are a problem in a specific area or if a hardpan is restricting root growth.