Georgia Cotton: Dusting in Seed in Dry Conditions

Dusting in cotton is never a great option. Our highest yields in cotton have always been with cotton planted by May 31. One way to get the crop in during dry conditions is to dust in cotton really shallow (1/2 inch or less). The idea is to just cover seed with soil with the hope that a light rain will make seed germinate and give an adequate stand.

Make sure the soil is dry. If moisture is there then seed can actually swell, but not have enough moisture to germinate leading to seed rotting.

It’s a decision each farmer has to make. If you only have a few acres left to finish, you may be able to wait on a rain. However, if you have over 1,000 acres to plant, you can’t afford to wait.

Weed control and using herbicides with shallow planted cotton can be problematic. Normally, we want the seed to germinate and grow before the herbicide is completely activated limiting the damage. In dry conditions this nearly impossible.

  1. Reflex moves very effectively in water thus it is the product most likely to reach the seed at higher concentrations. Although that is not beneficial for the cotton seed, it is very beneficial for weed control as the product is activated more effectively with lower amounts of rainfall or irrigation than other cotton herbicides. Additionally, our research has shown Reflex to sit on the soil for 17 days before being activated and then still providing about 90% control of the pigweed emerging after activation.
  2. Warrant poses a unique challenge, if the encapsulation breaks down releasing the active ingredient prior the cotton plant emerging then injury can be quite significant. It is the encapsulation of Warrant that provides us the ability to use it “safely” PRE in cotton. Any time one is uncertain of cotton emergence within 5 or 6 days of applying Warrant, one may want to consider other options. Ideally Warrant needs around a half inch of rain for activation and our research has shown it to still be quite effective on pigweed after sitting on the soil and waiting 11 days for activation.
  3. Diuron will move down to the seed less aggressively than Reflex, but if a heavy rain occurs within a few days of dusting the cotton in and applying diuron, injury will be much greater than normal.
  4. Brake likely poses the least damage potential to cotton in this environment, but the herbicide may not perform on weeds properly until a half inch or more of rainfall occurs.

Things to consider:

Be sure there are no weeds present when cotton is planted in dry soil. Other weeds should not emerge until it rains.

AgFax Weed Solutions

Once cotton is fully emerged the first postemergent herbicide application should be made. The treatment should be made when pigweed are small enough to achieve a 100% kill. Don’t wait until you see them from the road. Also, include a residual herbicide in the application.

14 to 18 days after the first postemergent herbicide the second postemergence herbicide application should be made and again include a residual product.

Last, the layby application should include conventional herbicide chemistry such as diuron, Caparol or Cotoran; and include Envoke if help is needed with morningglory or nutsedge.

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