Five Keys to Higher Cotton Yields

It’s said that a corn grower can only lose yield after planting, but a cotton producer can push yields from pre-plant through harvest. As growers in the majority of the Southern Cotton Belt begin shifting their planting focus to cotton, they should consider five optimum pre- and early season opportunities to manage for top yields: variety selection, nematode management, seeding rate, and weed and thrips control.

Seek Varieties with High Seedling Vigor
It’s not too late for growers to look for cottonseed varieties that have a reputation for seedling vigor and have consistently ranked high in university and on-farm variety trials over multiple years.

“Residual herbicides, which are once again standard practice for cotton, impose a significant stress on young seedlings,” said PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist (CDS) Steve Brown. “It is important to have a variety that routinely can withstand this stress, and those varieties with excellent seedling vigor provide a clear advantage in stand establishment and early season growth.”

Count the Ways to Control Nematodes
The continuing outcry over the loss of Temik three years ago forces growers to seek alternatives to control nematodes, including crop rotation, soil fumigants like Telone, new root knot nematode-resistant varieties, seed treatments and post-emergence foliar nematicides.

Which nematode management tool a grower chooses should be based on soil sample results and field history.

More Seed Isn’t Always Better
Many growers know how low they can go on seeding rate. But the rainy experiences from 2013 and the cool start to the 2014 season may have many considering a higher rate to counter Mother Nature.

“I don’t like thick stands,” Brown offered. “And that applies to both hill dropping and even spacing. What looks perfect in May can seem too crowded in August. I like to see thick-stalked, strong plants – not spindly ones.”

Brown favors a rate of at least two seeds per foot.  A limited amount of current research suggests populations below 1.5 plants per foot may have a negative impact on yield.

Joel Faircloth, PhytoGen CDS for the Carolinas and Virginia, generally recommends planting about 35,000 to 42,000 seeds per acre – “lower in South Carolina and increasing as you move north.”

“Low seeding rates make each plant responsible for a larger portion of the crop,” pointed out Russell Nuti, PhytoGen CDS for the Lower Southeast. “In regions with a shorter growing season, a higher population should enhance earliness as long as the rate is not high enough to cause excess vegetative growth. “

Win the War on Weeds
The key in early season is to control anything that might slow down that seedling. Weeds are key competitors and pose a bigger threat than the stunting effects of preplant residual herbicides.

“If the plant is growing poorly, growers often choose to delay post herbicide applications for fear of further crop injury, particularly tank mixtures of burndown products and residual herbicides,” Brown says. “Such a delay can be disastrous in the presence of Palmer amaranth. It’s a bad thing when poor seedling growth limits postemergence weed control.”

Trip Up Thrips
Growers who choose a high-vigor variety, control nematodes and eliminate competition from weeds can minimize thrips damage.

“Research indicates that a cotton seedling is past the stage where thrips can cause economic injury at the four-leaf stage. A more vigorous plant can reach that stage quicker,” said Faircloth. “Protecting the plant from thrips injury up to the four-leaf stage in the Carolinas and Virginia is critical, and an overspray is required to avoid maturity delays and potential yield loss.

“Also, it is worth noting that thrips alone don’t typically cause yield loss,” he added. “It is a combination of thrips and other factors like cold temps, moisture, sand blasting, seedling disease, and/or herbicide injury. A more vigorous plant should be less susceptible to and should recover quicker from these factors.”

Seizing the potential of a cotton crop requires more intense early season management early season than it once did, but high yields are the reward for the grower’s time and effort.

“In the early magic of the Roundup Ready era, it was amazing to watch cotton grow off so rapidly, largely because we weren’t using preemergence herbicides. Those days are gone,” Brown says. “Strong seedling vigor can help cotton grow through these challenges.”

Source – PhytoGen

 

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Cotton Production Stories
Harvest

2016 Mid-South Defoliation Guide Now Online

September 9, 2016

The 2016 edition of the Mid-South Cotton Defoliation Guide is complete and now available online.

Harvest

Is Cotton Turning Too Soon?

August 31, 2016

Mid-South cotton normally “turns,” or reaches senescence, during the early weeks of the football season. This year, there are reasons why that change is already appearing before the first kickoff.

Harvest

Proper Timing of Harvest Aids Focus of New Webcast

July 25, 2016

A new webcast explaining proper timing and use of harvest aids has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

Cotton Production

Lessons from the 2011 Drought

July 7, 2016

Years of drought in the Southwest have changed the way cotton producers think about water management.

Cotton Production

More Impact on Cotton Yields from Rotation, Cover Crops

July 6, 2016

After eight years of research on cotton crop tillage, Dr. Paul DeLaune is convinced that yields are impacted more by the cover crop and/or rotation.

Production Outlook / Acreage

USDA: 10 Million Cotton Acres Planted in 2016

July 1, 2016

USDA’s first acreage report for 2016 shows that U.S. cotton growers have planted 10 million acres in 2016 – a 17% jump above last year's plantings.

Cotton Production

Managing Texas-Sized Growth

July 1, 2016

When his farm operation suddenly doubled in size, Eric Seidenberger did what he knew best – go for it!

Around The Gin
Product News

Cotton Board Releases 2015 Annual Report

September 27, 2016

The Cotton Board’s 2015 Annual Report is now available online.

Product News

It’s a Deal: Bayer to Acquire Monsanto

September 14, 2016

Bayer and Monsanto have announced an agreement under which Bayer will acquire Monsanto for approximately $66 billion in an all-cash transaction.

Product News

How Fiber Quality Became So Valuable

September 14, 2016

Textile expert Dean Etheridge explains the meteoric rise of fiber quality on the global market.

Product News

Cotton Cultivated Website Adds Custom Weather Feature

September 1, 2016

Cotton Cultivated – Cotton Incorporated's producer information website – now features a new weather tool tailored for cotton growers.

Product News

ChemChina/Syngenta Deal Gets U.S. Foreign Investment Approval

August 22, 2016

ChemChina and Syngenta have received a key clearance for the proposed consolidation of the companies.

Product News

Enlist Cotton Trait Earns Full Export Approval

August 10, 2016

Cotton varieties containing Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist trait now have full export approval in key countries.

Product News

Spray Equipment Offer Helps Maximize On-Target Applications

August 3, 2016

A new spray technology equipment offer can help growers participating in Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions upgrade their sprayers to maximize on-target applications.

Product News

EPA Allows Sale and Use of Existing Belt Inventory

August 2, 2016

The U.S. EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board has upheld an earlier decision to cancel registration for Bayer's insecticide Belt, but is allowing sales of existing stocks to growers for use.

Latest News
Harvest

2016 Mid-South Defoliation Guide Now Online

September 9, 2016

The 2016 edition of the Mid-South Cotton Defoliation Guide is complete and now available online.

Harvest

Managing Proper Defoliation Timing

September 1, 2016

Proper defoliation planning helps protect yields. But it’s just as important when it comes to maximizing fiber quality.

Harvest

Is Cotton Turning Too Soon?

August 31, 2016

Mid-South cotton normally “turns,” or reaches senescence, during the early weeks of the football season. This year, there are reasons why that change is already appearing before the first kickoff.

Harvest

Harvesting Bottom Line Advantages

August 11, 2016

Options such as co-ownership and sharing of farm equipment are helping provide financial advantages to growers across the country.

Harvest

Proper Timing of Harvest Aids Focus of New Webcast

July 25, 2016

A new webcast explaining proper timing and use of harvest aids has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

Cotton Production

Lessons from the 2011 Drought

July 7, 2016

Years of drought in the Southwest have changed the way cotton producers think about water management.

Cotton Production

More Impact on Cotton Yields from Rotation, Cover Crops

July 6, 2016

After eight years of research on cotton crop tillage, Dr. Paul DeLaune is convinced that yields are impacted more by the cover crop and/or rotation.

Production Outlook / Acreage

USDA: 10 Million Cotton Acres Planted in 2016

July 1, 2016

USDA’s first acreage report for 2016 shows that U.S. cotton growers have planted 10 million acres in 2016 – a 17% jump above last year's plantings.

Cotton Production

Managing Texas-Sized Growth

July 1, 2016

When his farm operation suddenly doubled in size, Eric Seidenberger did what he knew best – go for it!

Cotton Production

Texas Cotton Crop a Story of Extremes

June 29, 2016

According to Texas cotton specialists, conditions have gone from one extreme to the other for cotton growers around the state.

Planting

Managing Cotton after Uneven Emergence

June 13, 2016

Mississippi State University specialists offer guidelines for managing cotton fields with uneven plant maturity.

Planting

Guidelines for Replanting Decisions

May 24, 2016

There are no definitive guidelines for making replant decisions. But a list of factors to consider may help make those decisions a bit easier.

Cotton Production

New Webinar Explains Irrigation Efficiency with Soil Moisture Sensors

May 19, 2016

A new webcast to help improve irrigation practices through the use of soil moisture monitors has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series.

Cotton Production

Cotton Explosion Looming for Kansas?

May 18, 2016

Thanks in part to a new cotton technology, producers in Kansas could be ramping up their cotton acres over the next few years.

Planting

Improved Soil Moisture for Most Texas Cotton Fields

May 4, 2016

Improved soil moisture in most cotton fields in Texas are pushing growth and maturity in early-planted acres and are setting up the state’s northern acres for good planting conditions.