As of April 29th, approximately 12 percent of Georgia’s cotton crop has been planted according to the USDA NASS crop progress report. This is significantly ahead of our previous five year’s average of 7 percent. Although wet through most of the winter and spring, conditions in most parts of the state have become dry, and much of our planted acres tend to be on our irrigated lands.
These dry conditions may be favorable for field work however, rainfall is needed if we are to have adequate soil moisture to ensure proper stands on a lot of our dryland acres. Fortunately it looks like we will get some much needed precipitation as the 10-day forecast shows high chances for rainfall for much of our cotton growing regions of the state.
In a perfect world, we would only plant cotton during optimal conditions however, in the real world cotton is often planted in harsh or sub-optimal conditions for a variety of reasons. It is important to check and evaluate your cotton stands soon after emergence so that any decisions on replanting can be made quickly as these decisions can become more difficult as more time passes. One of the first things that needs evaluating is the overall plant population across the field.
This can be recorded several ways but a plants/ft average needs to be recorded from several/many different areas of the field to get a good representative sample of the field’s plant population. The second part of the stand assessment is noting the occurrence of 3’ or greater gaps between plants. A field may have a lower than “optimal” plant population but if most of the plants are evenly spaced then very little if any yield losses may occur. Fields with a high number of 3’ or greater gaps have a higher likelihood of lower yield potential and delayed maturity.
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When deciding if the current stand is adequate or if replanting will be needed considerations must be taken for the extra costs or seed, fuel, labor, additional herbicides and insecticides as well as hidden costs like the decrease in yield potential from a later planted crop. Other questions that should be asked are: How uniform is the stand across the field? Should I replant the entire field or only spots? If I replant only parts of the field, how will the difference in maturity affect me later in the season with PGR management and defoliation?
The original pre-emerge herbicides should also be taken into account. If Warrant was used as a PRE, replanting should be delayed for 14 days as long as tillage (strip till equipment) is done and 21 days if no tillage is done to avoid serious injury to the replanted crop.