We have had lots of rain across the region during the past week with over 6 inches recorded at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC, as of Thursday, April 16, with more predicted through Sunday. Cotton planting will get into high gear, as soon as fields dry out and conditions are right. Variety selection is always key and there are a lot of good high yielding varieties on the market to choose from.
However, seed of many of the newest releases may be in limited supply.
Soil temperature is critical to successful seed germination. Generally, it is safe to plant cotton when the 4-inch soil temperature reaches 65° F for several days and warming conditions are in the forecast. Temperatures below 50° F can cause chilling injury to emerging seedlings resulting in weak, skippy stands, delayed maturity, and reduced yields.
Optimum seeding rate varies from field to field and depends on many factors such as soil type, seed size, and environmental conditions. In general, you should aim for a final stand of 2-3 plants/ft. of row for 36 inch rows. To get this stand, plant 2.5 – 4 seeds/ft. In a hill-drop system go with 2 seeds every 8 – 10 inches. Seed depth should be ½ – 1 inch deep, but not over 1 inch because of increased chance of seedling disease and poor stand establishment from crusting.
For the past several years we have conducted cotton variety trials at the West Florida REC. Trial results for cotton, along with corn, sweet corn, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat, are available online at http://wfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/variety/. Thanks to a partnership with Cotton Incorporated and SeedMatrix, there is a new online resource available for growers to evaluate variety performance. SeedMatrix.com is an online database that allows users to customize variety comparisons by selecting criteria such as soil type, irrigation, geographic region, and years. This database also includes university Official Variety Trials as well as on-farm trials results. The online application is available to producers at no cost through funding from the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.