As many farmers across the
Mid-South sat in their pickup trucks staring at sheets of rain drenching
the cool soils during the optimum cotton-planting window this spring,
well-known nur-sery rhymes and old clichés, such as: “Rain,
rain, go away; come again another day” and “A day late and
a dollar short” were probably running through their minds –
among other unprintable things.
Just getting the crop planted
in those areas was a struggle. Now farmers have to manage the late-planted
crop a little more intensively than usual in looking toward harvest.
Local cotton experts offer the following tips:
Mike Milam, Missouri Extension
cotton specialist, says, “Although our cotton planting was behind
schedule, it should be noted that we have been in this position before.”
To help late-planted cotton
reach its potential, he makes these suggestions:
- Keep the crop on track
with irrigation and insect control. Pay particular attention to plant
bugs and spider mites during hot and dry conditions.
- Use plant growth regulators
for square retention and earliness.
- Consider applying foliar
fertilizers where nitrogen (N) and sulphur may have leached out of
the soil as a result of excessive rainfall.
Manage For Harvest
As of May 15, 20 percent
of Mississippi’s cotton acres were planted compared to a five-year
average of nearly 75 percent, according to Mississippi cotton specialist
cotton, everything should be done with earliness in mind,” he
The Mississippi specialist
offers this advice to help achieve earliness in late-planted cotton:
- Consider cutting back
the N rate to avoid a lot of vegetative growth that can lead to problems
down the road. This is especially true for fields that have a history
of rank growth.
- If the plants are growing
off, and the situation calls for a plant growth regulator, apply it
as soon as possible to keep vegetative growth in check. “We
don’t want to delay maturity by letting the plant grow vegetatively
instead of putting some of those resources into fruit,” Dodds
- Control insects well and
keep a good fruit load on. “The best plant growth regulator
is a good fruit load, and part of that is managing insects,”
Late-Planted Arkansas Cotton
According to Tom Barber,
University of Arkansas Extension cotton specialist, “There are
many Arkansas producers (this year) who have planted cotton later than
they ever have.”
To prevent further delays
into the fall, he recommends managing the late-planted cotton more intensively.
- Apply enough N to make
the crop but be careful where there is field history of rank growth.
Overapplying N in those fields tends to make the crop later and more
- Set fruit early and hold
it. “In a normal year, we want at least 80 to 85 percent square
retention going into bloom,” Barber says. “This year,
I would like to see 90 percent or higher because we’re late.”
- Watch plant bug and other
pest populations closely.
- Don’t stunt the
cotton crop or set it back by applying too much plant growth regulator.
- Timely irrigation is crucial.
Turn the water on when needed to avoid slowing down the crop. “We
don’t want to increase the chance of fruit shed during pollination
by not watering on time,” he explains.
In summing up, Barber says, “We want to do what’s needed
for the crop, but we don’t have as much time to play with this
year, and we certainly don’t have time to make it up in the end.”
Contact Carroll Smith
at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.