As we get closer to planting season there are several factors to consider when trying to establish a successful stand. Early in the planting season, soil temperatures play a significant role in stand establishment as low temperatures will negatively affect germination and seedling vigor and also increases the risk of seedling diseases which can impact final plant stands. The “optimum” planting date will vary year to year but it is best to wait until 4 inch soil temperatures have reached at least 65° for 3 days and the forecast showing a trend for warmer weather.
Some other important aspects that affect stand establishment are seeding rates and seed placement configurations. In Georgia, plant populations of at least 1.5 to 1.75 plants/ft are needed to maximize yields. In our soils, seeding rates as low as 2 to 2.5 seed/ft can be successful however, seeding rates may need to be adjusted on a field by field basis to account for environmental circumstances that can affect germination and viability.
Hill-drop seeding can also impact stand establishment compared to singulated seeding in tough conditions. Research has shown that when equal plant populations occur there is no yield difference between hill-dropped seed and singulated seed however, in some soils and soil conditions hill-dropped seed may increase germination and therefor impact yields by ensuring plant populations reach those that are needed for maximum yields.
Variety selection can also play a role in how successful our stands are. In particularly tough environments where establishing an adequate stand is often difficult, planting a larger seeded
variety may be beneficial over planting a small seeded variety as the higher seedling vigor will be apparent in that niche environment. For more information on any of these topics visit our website www.ugacotton.com or contact your local UGA Extension Agent.