Virginia Cotton: Crop Looks Promising, Not Out of the Woods Yet

Walking the cotton his week has revealed to me that we produced a very good boll load on a lot of our cotton. It is one of the most mature crops we have ever had with half already fully mature.

  • About a third of our cotton was planted during the second half of the planting season and these fields have a similar boll load.
  • Even though the latest cotton does not have much open yet, it still has plenty of time to reach full maturity and the good thing about the late cotton is that it does not have any hard lock, at least not yet because it has not tried to open up.
  • We definitely continue to learn new things about cotton. Some of the cotton seems almost impossible to stop and it seems to be finding some nutrients that our older varieties could not find. It is not cutting out very well in some spots.
  • You can see the advantages of cut out fields in a September like this one as cutout cotton has more fluffy bolls.
  • Fields with high residual nitrogen and heavy growth and more rain during that weekend when Gordon went through will probably have more hardlock.
  • At any rate, walking cotton this week in general has me pretty optimistic about the harvest. Cotton that looked pretty knotty at the beginning of the week looks much better at the end of this week.
  • While I’m concerned we have another spell of this messy weather to go through this coming week, I am hopeful that defoliating this crop will help it stay in better shape by drying out quicker.
  • I’m trying to stay optimistic even though I know we are not out of the woods yet. Having a nest full of eggs is not the same thing as having a coop full of chickens. But I know it’s going to be good in the end, and if it is not good, then its not the end.

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Expected Conditions for Defoliation at Franklin Virginia

Today is the last day of Excellent defoliation conditions although tomorrow would be good for products that have lower washoff times. Dropp needs 24 hours without rain for maximum affect although 8 hours will get a lot of it in the plant.

Beginning Saturday evening we start a period lasting for about 5 days that will give us around a 50% chance of rain off and on.  It will not be raining all the time and we might miss it all together on Tuesday and maybe another day of next week.  The total expectation of rainfall is only an inch for the next 7 days.

The last few days of September and the first few days of October should be drier.  No frost risk shows up at all in October at this time.

My Opinion

  • The forecast shows the current pattern continuing into October. We are approaching 50% of our cotton that is ready to defoliate. Many have delayed spraying either because of weather or other chores having higher priority.
  • Going forward, I am expecting this pattern we have been in since Sept 8th to continue which hasn’t been awful, but we wish it was better. The current long term forecast for October continues to show 3 or 4 days of decent weather followed by 3 or 4 days that could have light showers.
  • No big rains are projected now, so I would start making cotton defoliation a higher priority.
  • There is a valid concern for cracking bolls in front of an extended wet spell, but also a benefit of getting the leaves off to help the canopy dry out quicker during brief drying periods in between showers.
  • Because it is not supposed to be continuous drizzle and no bad wind, I think our cotton will do better with the leaves off and would encourage you to spray cotton if it is more than 85% open anyway.
  • If you are borderline and have a lot of closed top bolls and more like 5 NACB, I would delay defoliation on that type of cotton in front of one of those long spells of rain.
  • If you are waiting, I think this is probably the last “Wait on the Weather” day, next time it clears up, we gotta go.

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