You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a cotton crop by its start. That’s certainly the case in 2011 for many Georgia producers, and Paul Maxwell, of Climax, is no exception.
“Cotton is an amazing plant,” Maxwell says.
Thank goodness for that, or Maxwell and many other producers would not be harvesting yields above 1,300 pounds per acre.
“Everything just fell right into place this season,” he says.
A Lot Of Watering
That is, after the crop had been established. Before that, it was survival of the fittest.
“We had a pretty rough time getting cotton up,” Maxwell says. “It took a lot of watering ahead of time and watering after planting.”
Maxwell’s cotton emerged to good stands in his irrigated fields, but stands were unacceptable in 76 acres of his non-irrigated cotton, which later had to be destroyed.
Maxwell’s crop consultant, Mark Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Ag Consulting, Inc., says that seedling disease, herbicide injury and sand damage were all problematic on some farms in the area, resulting in several replant situations.
“Insect pressure was abnormally light in 2011 for South Georgia cotton,” he says.
However, weed control is an increasing problem primarily because of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, many of which had to be pulled on most farms for which he consults. Mitchell also says that mid-season leafspot diseases became a significant concern during the peak-bloom period.
“Prior to defoliation, it looked as if we were going to have another expensive crop with only average yields.”
Little Late-Season Disease
Maxwell says that once his cotton began to open, weather conditions did not favor disease expression, which is rare for south Georgia.
“I haven’t seen enough boll rot to put into a croaker sack,” he says.
Mitchell agrees that the lack of late-season disease pressure is a welcome change from the norm.
“Because we are located in such a humid environment, we often lose a significant amount of our bottom crop to boll rot and hard-lock, if we get much rainfall during the time that our cotton is opening,” he says. “This has not been the case this season, thus resulting in higher cotton yields.”
Mitchell says several varieties have yielded very well this season.
“Deltapine varieties 0912, 0949, 1048, 1050 and 1133, as well as FiberMax 1740, have all performed nicely,” he says. “Our irrigated cotton has yielded from just over 1,000 pounds per acre, to as high as 1,646 pounds, with an average of around 1,350 pounds.”
Maxwell, who has his cotton ginned at Sowega Cotton, Inc., in Climax, where he is also a shareholder, has picked a little more than half of his crop and says it is yielding in the range of 1,300 pounds per acre.
“There was a good bottom crop,” he says. “The DP 1133 was the first field we picked, and the bolls went so far down the plant that we tried to get our headers as low as they could go.”
Gins Staying Busy
So much cotton is putting a lot of pressure on ginners, says Steve Bullard of BCT Gin in Quitman.
“So far, this crop is excellent,” he says. “Every position on the plant is full, and we are not seeing any boll rot.”
Bullard says that besides yield, these varieties are also making the grade, which is a welcome sight for the Georgia cotton industry.
“It looks like DP1050 is the most consistent; 1048 has done well. Grades are excellent, with uniformity running 81 plus,” he says. “Hopefully, this will put Georgia back in the ring for having top quality cotton.”
Contact Amanda Huber at (352) 486-7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.