Picking on Valentine’s Day

Historically on Valentine’s day, growers across the Mid-South and Southeast would be thinking about planting corn.

But Terry Phillips of Soperton, GA, was thinking about picking cotton. Seriously, he was.

“I still have about 200 acres to pick,” he said. “Every time we think we’re going to be able to get back in the field and get the rest of it, it rains again. Since the first of October to the 31st of January, we had 30 inches of rain. My Daddy is 76-years-old and he said he’d never seen anything like this.”

Pam Knox, a meteorologist and assistant state climatologist at the University of Georgia school of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said an El Niño weather pattern dominated Georgia in the winter of 2009/10 and brought cold, rainy weather to much of the state.

“Cold air from the arctic was tied up with the subtropical jet stream,” she explained. ”We had all the rain and flooding, and it was related to the tropics, but not to hurricanes or tropical storms.”

An El Niño is opposite on the east and west coasts. For example, while the east coast was seeing record snowfalls this winter, the Olympics in Vancouver was short on snow.

“We first noticed the El Niño was starting in late August and I think that contributed to the lack of tropical storms this year,” Knox said. “It developed over the course of the winter and became a strong one ― we don’t normally see them get that strong. But this has been the classic El Niño pattern, especially in south Georgia.”

El Niño weather patterns normally last for 12 months; occasionally slightly longer. But Knox says this El Niño, even though it was abnormally strong, is already showing signs of early weakening.

“We could actually go through a dry spell in the spring in the Southeast,” she explained. “It’s so wet now, it feels like we may never dry out. But as the pattern shifts – as the El Niño moves away – it won’t be concentrated over Georgia. I think that would be good for the farmers because they’re complaining. They can’t get in the field.”

Knox says that although it’s variable, the time between El Niños is usually three to five years. Normally a La Niña, which has the opposite effect of an El Niño, will come somewhere in between. El Niños have been known to follow El Niños, but rarely.

Despite the horrendous harvest conditions blamed on the El Niño, it could very well have played a part in the surprising yields south Georgia wound up with.

“The late rain we had in August and September helped our cotton fill out,” Phillips said. “It made our crop. The staple and mic were fine. The only thing it seemed to have affected was the color. I’ve been happy with the crop, I just wish I could have gotten through earlier.”
“Our (DP) 555 (BG/RR) picked anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 pounds,” he said. “555 and (DP) 515 (BG/RR) are what I have left to pick, but they are holding up real well.”

Glyphosate-resistant palmer amaranth is no stranger to south Georgia and Phillips planted FiberMax 1845 LLB2 – a LibertyLink/Bollgard II variety that allowed him to use Ignite, a non-selective alternative to glyphosate – where it was a problem. “I was happy with it,” he said. “Under irrigation, it averaged 1,300 pounds. I was happy with the way the Ignite worked and I’ve already got seed ordered for this coming year.”

Phillips says for 2010 he intends to increase his cotton acreage by 20%, to 1,200 acres, keep his same 350 acres of peanuts and drop corn and soybeans.

At the B. C. T. Gin Co. in Quitman, GA, Steve Bullard agreed that although it was definitely a difficult year, yields and grades were a pleasant surprise.

“We had trouble getting it out, but our yields and grades held up very well,” he said. “We’d usually be through ginning between Christmas and the first of the year. So we were really only two to three weeks late.”

The difficulty for the gin, Bullard said, came when trying to pick up modules.

“We had to pick and choose how we routed our trucks,” he explained. “If modules were on the road or in the field, it made a difference. If they were out in the field, sometimes we had to let them sit for a while.” ■

Leave a Reply

Harvest 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.

Harvest

Prolonged Rainfall in Carolinas Causes Seed Sprouting

October 5, 2015

The rainy spell that has soaked North Carolina for more than a week is creating problems for the state’s cotton growers.

Harvest

Keep Soil Compaction in Mind at Harvest

September 28, 2015

Since new module-building cotton pickers are adding more weight to fields during harvest, growers should keep in mind the factors that can contribute to soil compaction.

Harvest

2015 Mid-South Defoliation Guide Available Online

September 15, 2015

The 2015 Mid-South Cotton Defoliation Guide is now available online.

Harvest

Key Considerations for Cotton Defoliation

August 27, 2015

With the 2015 cotton crop quickly winding down, it’s time for growers to be making their defoliation plans.

Around The Gin
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.

Product News

Indigo Launches Water Efficiency Product for Cotton

July 26, 2016

Boston-based research firm Indigo has launched its first commercial product – Indigo Cotton – which helps improve the cotton plant’s water use efficiency.

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.

Harvest

Prolonged Rainfall in Carolinas Causes Seed Sprouting

October 5, 2015

The rainy spell that has soaked North Carolina for more than a week is creating problems for the state’s cotton growers.

Harvest

Keep Soil Compaction in Mind at Harvest

September 28, 2015

Since new module-building cotton pickers are adding more weight to fields during harvest, growers should keep in mind the factors that can contribute to soil compaction.

Harvest

2015 Mid-South Defoliation Guide Available Online

September 15, 2015

The 2015 Mid-South Cotton Defoliation Guide is now available online.

Harvest

Key Considerations for Cotton Defoliation

August 27, 2015

With the 2015 cotton crop quickly winding down, it’s time for growers to be making their defoliation plans.

Harvest

Preserving Fiber Quality Should Drive Defoliation Decisions

August 25, 2015

When making defoliation plans, there is more economic incentive for growers to maintain fiber quality when cotton prices are low versus when cotton prices are higher.

Harvest

When’s the Best Time to Terminate Cotton Irrigation?

August 18, 2015

As cotton moves closer to maturity, growers need to consider certain factors carefully when deciding to turn the water off for this year’s crop.

Harvest

First Bale for 2015 Delivered to Texas Gin

August 7, 2015

The first certified bale of U.S. cotton for 2015 was delivered to the Harlingen Gin Company by the Ortega brothers of Mercedes, TX.

Harvest

Storms Shred Thousands of Cotton Acres in Arkansas

October 9, 2014

To date, Mother Nature has blessed the latter part of the cotton season – including early harvest – with favorable

Cotton Production

Updated Mid-South Defoliation Guide Now Available Online

September 16, 2014

With defoliation and harvest season nearing, the 2014 Mid-South Defoliation Guide has been updated and is ready for grower use.

Cotton Production

Terminate Cotton Irrigation at First Cracked Boll

August 26, 2014

Darrin Dodds, Mississippi State Extension cotton specialist, says that when growers see the first cracked boll in their cotton fields, it’s time to terminate their irrigation program.