Now that we have some soil moisture to work with, take action as soon as you can – reenter fields and plant (or replant) those last remaining cotton acres. We are beyond our crop insurance cutoff dates, so risks associated with planting now are considerably higher. Carefully consider whether to plant cotton this late.
To ensure optimal stands for later planted cotton, it might be worthwhile to slightly increase seeding rates to 45,000 to 47,000 seed per acre and plant shallow. That ensures adequate stands, which helps you better manage for earliness since later planted cotton becomes more sensitive to skippy stands.
For various reasons, we have had a noticeable amount of late-planted cotton for the past few years. We do not recommend planting beyond the insurance cutoff dates. However, some growers often do plant beyond that point with some success…again, at their own risk.
Later Cotton: It’s All About Retention
Success with late-plantec cotton hinges on things lining up just right throughout the season. Late-planted cotton needs timely summer rains and a sunny and warm fall with a late frost. No one can predict how any of that will play out, much less control it.
But growers can determine when and how things get done. It’s really all about management. That includes closely managing PGRs, plant bugs, bollworms, fertility, irrigation and so forth.
PGRs: Growers cannot afford to be late on needed PGR sprays, for example. But a word of caution – don’t confuse that with the idea that “growers should be aggressive with PGRs.” Timeliness of PGR applications is far more important than using high rates, especially if high rates are not needed.
Pests: With insects, late-planted cotton will take a yield hit if applications don’t go out when needed. So, scout frequently and thoroughly. That means twice a week, at least, until applications start. Again, the goal is to protect and preserve the early fruit.
Irrigation: If you have irrigation, aim at retaining as much of that early-set fruit as possible.
Naturally, growers should also avoid any practice that may injure or further delay stand establishment or early season growth. The cotton went in late, so don’t do anything that will further delay it.