“When it’s rained, totals didn’t amount to much but the fronts have just kept coming through. The problem has more to do with frequency than amounts. These have mainly been systems that moved through the Midsouth and we’re just on the tail end of them. We tend to get our biggest rains when moisture comes up from the gulf.”
Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:
“After generally favorable rainfall, we are moving into our first brief encounter with a bit of chilly weather for a few hours on Wednesday morning (5/15). Newly germinating seedlings exposed to temperatures in the mid-40s run a risk of chilling injury within 48 hours of planting. However, will 3 hours below 50 degrees actually change the soil temperature enough to threaten a just-planted cotton seed? It should be fine, I think.
“With rain clearing out on Monday, it will be a few days before about half the region can get going again. Concerns about planting have been minor. This upcoming weekend (5/18-19) might be the first one in a while without any rain, and that might be a good thing.”
Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:
“Some of our earliest cotton was planted in an April 19-20 window, but that’s a very few acres. Most people waited and then cranked up around the weekend of April 27-28 and planted as much as they could before the forecast started calling for substantial rainfall. That rain began last Thursday (5/9).
“It’s amazing how fast people can go now. One grower told me he planted his 2,400 acres in 4 days. Another farmer with 5,000 acres wrapped it all up in 7 days. That said, some farmers just started last week and were only able to plant 400 to 600 acres before the rain started.
“Rain totals varied from 1.5 to 2.5 inches, and some of that came in a hurry. To my knowledge, nobody has been in the field since last Thursday and I haven’t seen any planters running today (5/13). Some might be in the field again as early as tomorrow or Wednesday, although a chance of rain is in the forecast now for Wednesday or Thursday.
“I know we’re pushing toward the later side for planting but I think we can get it all done, barring another round of substantial rainfall. We’re maybe 50% to 66% finished with planting in this part of the state, which is maybe about normal.
“Years ago, farmers started planting a lot earlier. But seed, equipment and other inputs were much cheaper. If there were problem stands, it wasn’t as big a deal to replant. But with budgets like they are now, people want to get it right the first time, plus growers can now cover more ground within a tighter window. For all those reasons, a lot of farmers really don’t like to start now until May 1.
“In this area, cotton acreage will likely be up by 10% to 15% and that will mainly come out of soybeans. We planted less wheat in the fall, so there will be fewer doublecrop soybean acres. Corn acres will be up, too.
“We definitely are dealing with more herbicide-resistant Italian ryegrass this year, and that’s been a building trend for several years. This isn’t like contending with resistant Palmer pigweed but it’s still an issue that demands attention. It has to be cleaned up and we need to keep it from building numbers in the seed bank.
“I’m getting more and more calls every spring about Italian ryegrass, especially in corn. More clethodim herbicide is going out, and that raises a concern because Italian ryegrass has developed resistance to it in other parts of the country when growers relied too heavily on it.
“If you’re finding it now, educate yourself about how to deal with it going forward. Everyone needs to stay on top of this grass for sure. This problem started in our northwestern counties as the weed began moving across the Mississippi line. Since then, it’s been progressing a little farther east every year. It’s made a foothold in northwest Alabama now and through parts of the Tennessee Valley. Fall burndown treatments have done well in our tests, so keep that in mind for later this year.”
Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:
“Everything has been delayed by rain. A handful of guys have planted 200 to 250 acres, but the planters shut off ahead of that last rain and that’s been it.
“Between Thursday afternoon (5/9) and Sunday, it rained 3 to 6 inches. It was quite an event – everything the weather people said it would be. A few acres will be replanted where the ground went under water.
“I do expect that people will be moving into the field again between Wednesday and Friday and – based on what folks tell me – not a single tractor will stop until it’s all done.
“South of U.S. 82, all of our corn is pretty much established, and it’s all about knee-high. North of the highway, it ranges from just spiking to mid-shin. Rain and cooler temperatures killed a lot of that corn a month ago. In two fields where 4 inches of rain fell, the corn never came up.”
Steve Brown, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Auburn University, Alabama:
“Rain fell over most of the state during the weekend (5/11-12) and slowed things down, but it was needed, particularly in southeast Alabama. Conditions are really good. Some cotton planted last Wednesday was up by Monday, and some planted last Thursday is peeking through today (5/14). It turned a little cool over the weekend but I think we’ll be okay.”
Mark Freeman, Extension Area Agronomist, East Georgia, Statesboro:
“The weather is just about perfect for cotton planting. It rained over the weekend pretty much across the state, and that was good for soil moisture. Planters are in the field today (5/14). The early-season cotton looks good and thrips pressure is just about normal in this part of Georgia.”