Cotton Focus: Seed Planting And Technology

When cotton seed cost $350 per ton, the rule was to plant heavy and thin the stand later on if you needed to. But when seed hit $500 per bag, you sort of had to find a new rule book.

“Everyone with anything to do with cotton farming is aware that the genetically modified varieties have had a very big impact on agriculture. They have allowed us to improve our weed and insect control,” says Dr. Earl Vories, a USDA/ARS agricultural engineer at the University of Missouri Delta Center in Portageville. “But along with that, the cost has gone up, and there have been a lot of questions about what we can do to make sure we’re not wasting seed.”

So the research hypothesis becomes finding ways to minimizing seeding rates while maximizing yields. The most visible means to that end at the moment is site-specific, variable-rate planting, and the ability to do just that is already available.

“I am very confident in saying that we have the mechanics, the hardware, and even the software in place. If someone wants to variable-rate plant, the technology is there,” says Dr. Edward Barnes, Director, Agricultural Research at Cotton Incorporated.

What we lack, though, is the definitive data required to write the prescriptions. “One of the things that makes it difficult to say exactly how much benefit you can get with precision planting is that cotton is a great compensator,” Barnes continues. “Cotton can absorb a lot of variability in seeding rates, so it makes it very hard to collect the data it takes to make strong decisions on variable-rate planting.”

Vories agrees: “We don’t have economic data that would make us say with confidence that this is the way to go – we’ve only been working on the data for one year. … We as researchers are behind the equipment that is available. The technology to make the adjustments is there. But right now, our recommendations can’t match up with the equipment capabilities.”

Data Quest Begins

Most prescription-based applications of farm inputs starts with soil-type and yield-monitor maps.

“(Farmers) know what’s going on in a field. They know the highest yielding areas, and the lowest yielding areas,” says Vories. “One of the reasons we were able to start work on precision planting is because we are getting so much information from yield maps and Veris EC data.” 

What’s lacking at the moment is an understanding of how the relationship between soil types and planting rates impacts yields. Frank Groves, Cotton Verification Coordinator for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension service has completed one year of research, and through a grant from Cotton Incorporated, will begin another three-year trial.

“We are looking at two varieties at low, medium and high seeding rates on variable soil types in three different locations in the state,” Groves says. “Ultimately, what we are shooting for is to be able to have a prescription that will fit each soil type as the planter moves across the field.”

The plots will run across light, mixed and heavy soils. Then each 12-row strip will be planted with one of five seeding rates.

“We are using a variable-rate planter, and we have a prescription, but we’re not changing it according to soil texture in this study,” says Groves. “When we harvest the plots, we’ll be able to lay the yield maps over the zones and see what seeding rate looked best in each soil zone.”

Irrigation can also impact prescriptions. For instance, there would be one seeding rate for areas of a field covered by the main span of a center pivot, another rate for the area covered by the end-gun, and yet another for areas not watered at all.

“Once we synthesize all of the information, we’ll be ready to go,” Barnes says. “Ideally we want a turn-key system that, based on the data points on soil type and yield, will give a farmer a variable-rate planting prescription that a researcher would be proud of.”

Groves agrees: “Absolutely. That is what we want to wind up with. With seed cost being what it is, ultimately our goal is to plant only as many seed as you need to.”

Leave a Reply

Planting Stories
Planting

Cover Crop Costs Recovered on Rolling Plains Cotton

December 28, 2016

Irrigated cotton producers on the Texas Rolling Plains could potentially be reaping more dollars per acre if they include a cover crop on their continuous cotton.

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.

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.

Planting

USDA Projects 9.56 Million Cotton Acres in 2016

March 31, 2016

USDA’s March 31 Prospective Plantings report projects that U.S. cotton growers will plant 9.56 million acres in 2016 – an 11% increase over last year.

Planting

March Rainfall Could Mean More Cotton Acreage

March 29, 2016

More acres may be shifting back to cotton in 2016. For producers who may be planting cotton for the first time in several years, variety selection can be a formidable challenge.

Planting

Preplant Burndown Time in NC

March 8, 2016

Mid-March through early April is the ideal time for preplant burndown applications in North Carolina cotton fields.

Planting

Reference Guides Online for Proper Variety Placement

March 2, 2016

Charts to help provide guidance to growers on properly placing and managing cotton varieties are now available online from Mississippi State University.

Around The Gin
Product News

Enlist Duo Herbicide Registered for Use on Enlist Cotton

January 13, 2017

The U.S. EPA has registered Enlist Duo herbicide for use on Enlist cotton varieties, beginning in 2017.

Product News

Data Show Yield Gains from Indigo Cotton in 2016

January 9, 2017

Data collected from 2016 trials show that Indigo Cotton – a seed treatment based on naturally occurring, in-plant microbes to help increase water use efficiency – led to yield improvements on testing acres, including an 11% average yield increase in West Texas.

Product News

FiberMax and Stoneville Release New Varieties for 2017

January 9, 2017

Cotton growers searching to match the right variety the right field now have two new FiberMax varieties and two new Stoneville varieties to consider for 2017.

Product News

PhytoGen Rolls Out Seven New Enlist Varieties for 2017

January 5, 2017

PhytoGen is releasing seven new cotton varieties with the Enlist cotton trait and WideStrike 3 Insect Protection for the 2017 growing season.

Product News

Do You Qualify for the Stoneville Legacy Club?

January 3, 2017

Signup is now open for the new Stoneville Legacy Club, celebrating both the rich history of Stoneville and the generational wisdom of the growers who make 3-plus bales.

Product News

FiberMax Celebrates Growers Who Maximize Dryland Production

December 30, 2016

The new FiberMax Maximizer Club celebrates growers who produce great dryland cotton yields, and signup for the club is now open.

Product News

EPA Registers Engenia Herbicide from BASF

December 21, 2016

The EPA has registered Engenia herbicide for control of more than 200 broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate-resistant weeds, in dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans.

Product News

Growers Impressed with First PhytoGen WideStrike 3 Enlist Variety

December 19, 2016

The first growers to plant PhytoGen brand PHY 490 W3FE say the germplasm and technology combination helped them work smarter and increase cotton production.

Latest News
Planting

Cover Crop Costs Recovered on Rolling Plains Cotton

December 28, 2016

Irrigated cotton producers on the Texas Rolling Plains could potentially be reaping more dollars per acre if they include a cover crop on their continuous cotton.

Planting

Increasing Planter Capacity: Go Faster or Wider?

October 11, 2016

New technologies are giving growers more options to speed up planting. The best solution is the one better suited for your field shape and size.

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.

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.

Planting

USDA Projects 9.56 Million Cotton Acres in 2016

March 31, 2016

USDA’s March 31 Prospective Plantings report projects that U.S. cotton growers will plant 9.56 million acres in 2016 – an 11% increase over last year.

Planting

March Rainfall Could Mean More Cotton Acreage

March 29, 2016

More acres may be shifting back to cotton in 2016. For producers who may be planting cotton for the first time in several years, variety selection can be a formidable challenge.

Planting

Preplant Burndown Time in NC

March 8, 2016

Mid-March through early April is the ideal time for preplant burndown applications in North Carolina cotton fields.

Planting

Reference Guides Online for Proper Variety Placement

March 2, 2016

Charts to help provide guidance to growers on properly placing and managing cotton varieties are now available online from Mississippi State University.

Planting

Clemson: Focus on Insect Management, Proper Variety Selection

February 4, 2016

Clemson Extension specialists point to insect management and proper variety selection as keys to help SC cotton producers grow more profitable crops in 2016.

Planting

SC Cotton Growers Look to Rebound from 2015 Flood

January 28, 2016

After South Carolina’s cotton crop was essentially flooded out in 2015, what’s in store for the state’s growers this year?

Planting

Market Prices Impacting Early 2016 Crop Decisions

January 19, 2016

As farmers in the Rio Grande Valley try to finalize cropping decisions before planting begins in the coming weeks, many are still struggling with what to plant. For some, that will likely be cotton.

Planting

Mississippi Variety Trial Data and Planning Budgets Now Available

December 4, 2015

Mississippi State University Extension’s 2015 On-Farm Cotton Variety Trials publication and Cotton 2016 Planning Budgets guide are both now available online.

Planting

NC State: PGR Management Considerations

June 17, 2015

Side-dressing could help spur vigorous cotton growth, especially with timely rain. According to the NC State Extension cotton team, it’s time to start PGR management plans.

Planting

El Nino Weather Good for High Plains Cotton

May 12, 2015

The Texas High Plains are benefitting from the current El Nino weather pattern. And that’s good news for this year’s cotton crop.