It seems like we have just gotten out of the 2009 crop with late harvest, and it is time to get ready to plant the 2010 crop. Deltapine 555 has been the variety of choice for Southeast producers for the past several years with it being grown on 95 percent of the acreage.
Many producers tried other varieties in 2009, and some outperformed the standard. This was due to insect problems in some areas and poor harvesting conditions in others and good genetics in the new varieties. Several varieties from different companies did better in variety trials all across the region than 555. This will make it easier for producers to switch knowing that there are several high-yielding varieties that have the potential for four-bale cotton, including early and late varieties.
Producers should check variety test information near them for the best high-yielding varieties. Most of these varieties will have the newest technology with two Bt genes and be able to apply Roundup later over the top.
It is hard to realize that it has been a little more than a year since the ice storm in Southeast Missouri. Many were without electricity for up to three weeks in spite of the effort of service crews that suddenly appeared within days. I know that it made all of us more appreciative for what we have every day. We are truly blessed.
The reports indicate that there will be more cotton grown in Missouri this year, which will reverse our downward trend for the last several years. Looking back, it’s hard to realize that we had almost half a million acres of cotton just a few years ago. While it is unlikely that we will ever reach that level again, we still have the potential for excellent crops.
Cotton harvest in Georgia is still ongoing as of mid-February, but the majority of cotton is finally out of the field. Hopefully, our rains will subside long enough for producers to get some field work completed. With that in mind, there are a number of factors to consider as we prepare for planting the 2010 crop. Most fields that I’ve seen across the state have some amount of damage resulting from the sub-optimal harvest conditions that we’ve recently experienced.
When planning for the 2010 season, producers need to consider the repair costs for the extensive washouts and large equipment ruts. In addition to the costs of field repairs, producers need to consider the time required to repair these fields.
The 2009 crop year in the High Plains was a very mixed bag. Some producers did very well with irrigated cotton, some was below par and the dryland acreage where we had a crop was difficult. The Lubbock and Lamesa Classing Office results reflected this. We ended up with around 56 percent color grades 11 or 21, substantially higher than the 40 percent observed in 2008.
Average leaf was somewhat improved compared to last year, while length and strength were down somewhat from the records set in 2009. Average micronaire, an indirect measure of maturity, was slightly higher than last year. However, due to the difficult fall and the lateness of much of our remaining dryland and some irrigated fields, we encountered significant maturity issues in some areas.
The Texas AgriLife Research Cotton Variety Performance publication and results from Texas AgriLife Extension Service systems variety tests as well as other county trials are available at http://lubbock.tamu.edu. These publications provide a wealth of information for producers. Several trial locations across the region are included.
Rain and snow patterns were looking good in January, and we continue with some favorable weather patterns as we head toward the 2010 SJV planting season in California. Water supply issues are far from a “done deal” for 2010, so we are still hoping for some better decisions and release of workable amounts of water for California farmers.
Uncertain irrigation water supply situations will likely again result in a range of strategies for pre-plant and early season irrigations, and these will impact irrigation scheduling and strategies for the rest of the growing season.
This “set-up” to the growing season could again make decisions on which fields to plant or fallow, timing of pre-plant irrigations and first post-planting irrigation more difficult. With all of the changes in cropping patterns of the past couple of years, with expansion and contraction of alfalfa, safflower, cotton and small grains acreage, it may be useful to develop some new ideas about where cotton could fit into your production plans.
Glyphosate-resistant weeds have been a very hot topic at most meetings so far this season. In Alabama, glyphosate-resistant horseweed has been a problem for several years, and farmers have normally been able to control this weed by adding a 2,4-D or a dicamba product to burn-down sprays at least 21 days before planting. The resistant
horseweed, however, continues to change, and the pest is now emerging in many fields throughout the growing season. I pulled many horseweed plants in fields as I looked at cotton last summer and fall.
In much of South and Central Texas, cotton farmers are experiencing the polar opposite of 2009. In 2009, many producers did not have enough soil moisture to germinate the seed, and now some of the same producers are wondering if it will be too wet to plant cotton this year. However, it is really difficult to complain about too much rain in Texas.
There is a lot of optimism about the 2010 cotton acreage in Texas due to good soil moisture and favorable prices. Generally, we will probably see more than a 10 percent increase in planted cotton acreage, but it could go much higher. The extent of the cotton acreage increase will depend on the soil moisture conditions between now through early March.
The 2010 cotton season is upon us now with some areas of the state already placing seed in the ground. Estimates are that cotton acreage will be up in Arizona. As you approach this year’s planting season, I encourage you to monitor soil temperature and weather forecasts prior to deciding to put seed in the ground.
A significant and growing portion of your crop budget is devoted to early season expenses, particularly seed, so it is important that every attempt be made to achieve a successful planting and to reduce the potential for any replanting.
Cotton seedlings are susceptible to cool temperatures that can lead to slow germination and emergence. These conditions will result in an increased incidence of seedling disease and mortality. For more weather data, go to the following Web site at www.cals.arizona.edu/azmet.
One thing that has become clear at the production meetings this winter is the great interest in minimizing input costs for cotton production. Most producers seem to think that reducing costs is critical to maintain or increase acreage. How to go about cost reduction is the question. Any limitation of inputs could reduce yield, and if the yield reduction is excessive, net profits would decrease.
All seem to recognize that there is more than an ample supply of cotton in the world and therefore would be willing to accept some yield reductions if these were offset by decreased inputs, such that net profits were increased or maintained. Discussions have included possibilities of returning to use of conventional varieties or, at the very least, omitting one or more of the transgenic traits. In Louisiana, the transgenic Bt trait is very beneficial and, with the current insect situation, worth the cost because alternative worm control options may not be as effective and may be more costly than the transgenic Bt fee.