Virginia Cotton: Characteristics of Cool Planting Dates
The best planting conditions for cotton that we have seen all season are now here. The cotton we are planting now is going to explode out of the ground and look very uniform and healthy.
So what about the early planted cotton this year? There is no question that we have had good success from planting cotton in some borderline cool conditions here in Virginia over the years. In fact I can only remember one or two years were we did not have to stop for a few days and wait for the cool weather to go through.
Nevertheless, I am pretty sure this is the first time we have had frost on the hot tub cover in the middle of May. The one characteristic I expect a lot of the cotton that has been planted up until now to have is sporadic plant emergence.
It seems to me that the biological variability within each seed is amplified by cold nights such that the most vigorous seed will emerge almost like it was warm. The weaker seed will still eventually sprout and develop only at a slower pace that will last even though bloom evidenced by delayed blooming from these plants.
When we get a lot of packing rain or in hard spots in the field, we will see some poor stands more often than when planting in warm conditions depending on the percentage of low cool germ seed in the bag and the coolness of the ground. While the uniformity may be variable, timely rainfall during bloom will still produce top yields.