“With cool soil temperatures, a lot of the growers here are using an in-furrow treatment. Insect protection needs to start early. Since we never really had enough cold weather to kill them back, I’m expecting heavy insect pressure. I already see fall armyworms in my yard.”
Steve Brown, Cotton Specialist, Auburn University
“Farmers planted a small percentage of cotton in the southern tier of Alabama, and they’re probably planting more this week. The northern part is wet, wet, wet. About 8 inches of rain fell across the central part last weekend, so we’re wet, too.
“In general, the temperature is the limiting factor as you go north in Alabama, while moisture is the limiting factor as you go south. People are sitting on go, and we’re ready to roll. We don’t like to wait, but with the low temperatures we’ve had, it’s a good thing that most of the seed is still in the bag.
“Once fields are dry enough to run equipment, cotton planting will start in earnest – probably next week. Most people in the south who have moisture are going to run all out. If I were them, I would be, too.”
Eddie McGriff, Regional Extension Agent, Auburn University
“We are behind. Rain accumulation has run 15 to 18 inches above normal for this time of the year, and people can’t get in the fields to plant. On a very small scale, I have 22 trials to plant but have only been able to plant one of them. What I need to do isn’t as important as what our farmers have at stake, but it’s an example of how far behind everyone is in general.
“Soil temperatures are good for corn and soybeans. If it stays dry, I suspect we will start planting cotton next week. We need to get into the field, and we have a lot of corn and soybeans to plant first. Farmers also are worried that the rain will turn off at some point and we won’t have moisture this summer when we need it.
“On a related issue, we need to look at more subsoiling in our area to eliminate these shallow hardpans. We are using much heavier equipment, and we’ve been in conservation tillage for so long that we’ve created these hardpan layers. We also have been through years when growers were forced to harvest when it was wet, and that has added to the hardpan situation.”
Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:
“As things look, we need to stick with simply talking about planting cotton but not actually trying to do any cotton planting right now. We won’t have any suitable planting weather for another week. Planting conditions remain poor to awful through April 28, with negative heat units and, hopefully, the last morning in the 30s.