Virginia Cotton: Focus on the Finish

    Emerging cotton seed. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    We have about 10 days left in the cotton planting season, plus or minus.  The overall objective for successful cotton production is focused on gearing toward a favorable blooming period and boll fill followed by relatively dry conditions during boll opening and harvest.

    Things that happen early in the season rarely predict ultimate success.  If they did, then last year’s perfect planting season would have produced a record crop. It’s really more about how we finish.

    • We know that it takes about 45 days from bloom to get enough heat to open a boll with a high rate of Prep.  That works out to a last effective bloom date of the end of August for an October 15 defoliation date. 
    • Mathematically, with typical heat unit accumulation, we should see the early varieties that get planted this week start blooming around the third week of July and planting next week will begin blooming at the end of July. 
    • It takes about 3 weeks of blooming to make 2 bales in good stands.  That should still give us a little cushion for a cooler summer or some extra yield if it is warm with no added risk. 
    • Things can even work out successfully to keep planting into June, but that requires some above normal temperatures or extended warm weather in October and hence a factor of risk to consider.



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