North Carolina Cotton: Don’t Rush to Plant Just Yet

Cotton planting. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Soil temperature at a 3-inch depth was 58.2 degrees at 7 a.m. this morning (April 27). We find it alarming that the highest early morning soil temperature in the last 4 days was 61.5 on April 24.

The DD60’s predicted for the 5 days following planting at Rocky Mount are included in the table below. Conditions look to be improving after today with another couple cool nights predicted for April 30 and May 1.

The safest strategy be will be to start planting on May 3. If you want to get started on the second, wait until the soil temps warm up from the previous night. We would like to see soil temp get to 65 degrees.

Conditions can change quickly as these predictions are based on a 10-day weather forecast. The first 6 days are based on the National Weather Service and the last 4 days are based on predictions from weather.com.

The table below is for Rocky Mount and based on the 10-day forecast. We include this as a general guide. As spring weather forecasts can often differ across the state, we strongly encourage you to get a more local forecast that can be easily updated daily using the new NC State University Cotton Planting Conditions Calculator.

The calculator can be found on the Cotton website under the link “Calculators and Decision Aids” on the left side toolbar, or directly at the Cotton Planting Conditions Calculator page.

We encourage growers to use and monitor the calculator twice daily to account for potential changes in weather forecasts for your region or farm. Simply click on your farm location on the map, and click “submit” for your local planting conditions forecast.

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