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Cotton Farming Never Stops print email

Roger Carter
Agricultural Management Services, Inc.
Clayton, La.

Some folks, including a few farmers, may think that only the Australians are farming cotton in January and February each year; but January and February are key months when American cotton producers (and not just those in the Rio Grande Valley) should begin “farming” cotton. For successful U.S. cotton farmers, there are projects that should be completed no later than mid-February.

For much of the Cotton Belt, burndown applications should be applied no later than mid-February in order to give time for all winter vegetation to decompose before planting. This will help reduce the incidence of pests, such as spider mites and cutworms. The addition of a residual herbicide is recommended. The majority of cotton seed that will be planted should be booked early. Farmers should request early arrivals to give them time to have private or state seed laboratories run germination and vigor tests. As much as farmers are paying for seed and technology, it is imperative that they are starting with the highest quality seed that can be bought.

The most important tool on the farm is the planter.  With one trip, this piece of equipment is placing 30 to 40 percent of the cost of cotton production in the field in one pass. Accurate seed placement is a must in order to get an optimum stand. The seed also contains up to $25/A in seed treatment costs in addition to $125 to $160/A in seed and technology expenses. And many farmers also apply herbicides, fertilizer and insecticides during the planter pass, costing another $10 to $60/A. It is not inconceivable that one pass with a planter will cost $200/A or more. All pesticides and fertilizer should be prescription-applied, and the spray or granule equipment, as well as precision ag software and hardware, accurately calibrated so that all are field-ready when the time comes.

Marketing strategies should have already been made, but a review after the Beltwide Cotton Conferences is always in order. There is always news that circulates at the Belt-wide that can change the market itself and/or the perceptions of how to market cotton. Many key marketing decisions are made immediately after the Beltwide.

With all of the jobs listed above, January and February can certainly be called two of the busiest months for efficient and potentially profitable cotton farming operations.

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

• B.S. in Entomology (minor in Agronomy) – Louisiana State University (LSU). M.S. in Plant Physiology Weed Control (minors in Agronomy, Entomology) – LSU
• Current member of Concordia Parish Farm Bureau, Louisiana Farm Bureau, LACA, NAICC and Alpha Zeta
• Owner/consultant AMS, Inc.; five ag consultants on staff; offers scouting, consulting and management services for cotton, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat and rice
• Owner or partner in several area cotton farms and a shareholder/past president of Concordia Farmers Gin, Inc.
• 2003 Cotton Consultant of the Year
• Married to wife, Lise’ Anne Clower for 38 years. Son, Anthony, and daughter-in-law, Jessica. Five grandchildren: Cade, Karlee, Caroline, Christian and Alena
• Enjoys public speaking and collecting ’60s, ’70s and contemporary rock, pop, country, soul and easy listening music.

2010 – An End Of Season Review


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