Cotton – Midsouth – An Open Planting Window Just Ahead? – AgFax

Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

Owen Taylor, Editor

Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by the Midsouth Cotton Team of Amvac Chemical Corporation.


Cotton planting progressed in small areas since our last report, but rains have continued to stall activity on a wide basis.

Temperatures are pushing higher, which is good news, and forecasts indicate that a wider period of dry weather seems to be shaping up as the Midsouth eases into May.

A tornado ripped through LSU’s Dean Lee Research Center in Alexandria, Louisiana. See comments by Dan Fromme and connect with an article in our Also of Note section.



David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

“I don’t have any cotton planted unless one of my clients planted some today (4/27), but a little cotton has been planted in the area.

“It’s still wet. We just got a rain two nights ago, with more coming tomorrow night (4/28). Some of my sandier fields are drying out, and we’re planting peanuts in some of those locations. Also, a few guys in the area were planting cotton on the sands today.

“My cotton acres will likely remain about the same this year because there’s just not anything else to grow besides peanuts or corn. Corn wasn’t at a great price, and we’ve already planted all the peanuts we can, which leaves cotton. Rice pencils out pretty well, but you can’t grow it on cotton ground.

“I have a couple of new guys who’ll have cotton for the first time in a number of years. A few growers jumped in with both feet and bought pickers this year before the pandemic developed. The cotton market wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad as long as you could produce a lot of cotton.

“We have growers averaging over three bales an acre, and in a normal market that pencils out pretty well. But with the way the market has dropped, it’ll take 3 bales just to break even.

“We’ve planted about 90% of the corn. Less than 20 fields are left to plant, and I have a few to replant. There’s just too much water. Usually, I only replant corn due to hail damage, but not this year. I checked a couple of fields today that didn’t come up to a stand. They were planted flat under pivots and then flooded.”


Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University:

“Some cotton was planted around Clarksdale this week. Farmers are trying to plant before the rain moves in to have some April-planted cotton. Everyone would like to have the bulk of their cotton planted in the next two weeks, and it looks like next week might include a few good days to plant. Farmers are finishing last-minute field work this week to prepare for that.

“Everyone is trying to figure out what the best crop mix option is now. The planting window for corn is closing. People are considering beans, but I still think cotton is a good option if you’re set up for it – especially as we move in the optimum planting window in the first 10 days of May.”


Gary Wolfe, La-Ark Agricultural Consulting, Ida, Louisiana:

“About 500 acres of our expected cotton crop have been planted, and I think that’s the only cotton planted in this area so far (4/27). That cotton is up now and looks pretty good.

“Where I work in southwest Arkansas, at least some expected corn acreage will end up in prevented planting. I also work as a crop insurance adjuster, and I have 23 prevented planting claims on corn up through there, plus another 3 in Texas. And those are just policy holders who work with one company. Areawide, I understand a lot of prevented planting has been triggered in the Paris, Texas, area because it’s been too wet.”


Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:

“It rained a little last night (4/27). It’s not raining now but the wind is blowing. Hopefully, it won’t rain much tonight. Based on the forecast, we expect the rain to start at 6 p.m. and go until 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. Past that, Sunday (5/2) is the next rain in the forecast. Maybe we will have about four days between rains, so we might squeeze in one solid day in the field with the planter.

“In places, people were planting yesterday, and I don’t think we got enough rain to keep us from planting in the area where I live. Right now, I think people are planting as hard as they can in front of this next rain where it’s dry enough.

“I run DD-60s for five days after planting, and our DD-60 forecast at this point looks really good. My minimum to plant is between 20 and 25. Anything less than 16 is terrible, which is where it’s been until just now. We hadn’t even reached a fair planting forecast previously, but temperatures are warming up this week. We now have a very good planting forecast. We simply need dry weather to get the planters out.

“NASS (National Agriculture Statistical Service) surveyed agents on Friday and released the report on Monday. Monday afternoon they said we had about 3% of our cotton acres planted. I didn’t think it would be quite that high, but I knew that farmers had covered at least a few acres.

“Plenty of people were planting cotton yesterday, I think. It was a bit too wet first thing yesterday morning for some to get in the field, but more were probably running yesterday afternoon where it was dry enough. To an extent, we’re rolling the dice in front of a big rain. We’re hoping, of course, that we can miss the rain and that we’ll be busy this weekend planting cotton.

“Some corn planting continues, based on several reports on social media. I’m thinking that those growers are still pushing to plant all their intended corn acreage.”


Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi:

“Everything has been exceptionally wet. We’ve received over 50 inches of rain so far this year in places – and our annual rainfall is about 55 inches. It’s interesting that the area we work in the hills – Calhoun, Chickasaw, Webster and Clay Counties – has received 20 inches more rain than the area that we work in Tallahatchie County.

“Although we only got about half our intended corn crop planted, we’re probably finished with corn now.

“Cotton is not behind in this area. We prefer to get our cotton in the ground in the first 10-12 days of May, and that is a possibility if everything goes well this year. I think our cotton acreage is going to be really close to what it was last year. However, if the rain continues and delays planting, some cotton acres may shift to beans, but it will be late May or even June before we begin to make those decisions.

“Less than 10% of our soybeans have been planted. Right now, we’re hoping for a stand where we’ve planted.

“We’re behind on land prep for the sweet potatoes, but most of the fields have been burned down. We always like to have fertilizer applied and the ground rowed up by May 1, but that won’t happen this year.”


Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:

“I’m not aware of any substantial cotton acres that have been planted yet in Tennessee. Everyone is setting up planters to get prepared. The station has planted a few small plots but no substantial acreage to speak of has been planted.

“Everyone seems to be waiting for this front to move through before they start. The forecast says to expect three-quarters to over an inch of rain tonight (4/28) and tomorrow, with warmer temperatures following. With all the recent rain, it won’t hurt to miss this one. I suspect we’ll start moving into cotton in a big way by the end of this week, and we will be working a lot in the fields next week.”


Bill Brooks, Mid-South Farmers Cooperative, Alamo, Tennessee:

“Coming out of winter, everyone was talking about corn and cotton and how much they expected to plant. But about two months ago, potential cotton acres started sliding, and growers began canceling some cottonseed orders. Then a month ago, corn acres started sliding as well. We’re still seeing both corn and cotton acres decrease as we get closer to May.

“Another big rain is in the forecast for tomorrow night (4/28). In addition to past planting delays due to rain, the market outlook remaining weak or uncertain, and ethanol plants being throttled down, there is lots of pressure to quit corn. So far, only 30% of our expected corn acres, at best, have been planted.

“One thing after another has hammered these markets, and that’s driving farmers’ indecision regarding their planting choices, maybe more so than ever in my memory. It’s difficult to make any crop pencil without figuring in an above-average yield and that’s aggravated by the uncertainty we are experiencing due to Covid-19.

“Intended soybean acres have been on the rise, with a few acres of ‘early beans’ already in the ground.

“I think cotton acres will be down at least 30% from the intended acres planned over the winter. We look to start cotton planting around the May 1 if the weather is suitable. It’s been a tough start for sure and obstacles abound as we look forward, but I’ll have to commend our area growers. They are looking for ways to succeed and get past this. They show up every day, work with their employees and make plans to get the job done. It’s inspiring and I’m proud to be a part of this industry in these uncertain times.”

Dale Wells, Ind. Cotton Services, Inc., Leachville, Arkansas:

“We just started back in the fields today (4/27) planting cotton, corn, and peanuts. Currently, we have planted about 95% of our corn. We are still trying to get in the last 5%. However, it’s going into fields that are being leveled and we are waiting on the dirt pans to finish. Our plan is to stay with corn on that ground instead of switching to other crops.

“Cotton, corn and peanut acres have increased a little this year because of land changes where we’ve swapped out heavier soil for lighter ground. The increase is certainly not due to the price of cotton, but the ground is just better suited for these crops.

“My farmers aren’t planning to plant any soybeans unless something goes really awry.


“We’re trying Enlist cotton this year. We hope it will help provide better control on our pigweeds. There’s a WideStrike variety that looks very good to us, so we’ll give it a shot. We’re not going whole-hog with the system yet but we are encouraged with the Enlist technology and the newer varieties.

“The rest of our cotton will be just like our normal program, primarily going with Extend Flex cotton, although we won’t be using dicamba in our program. We will stick to overlapping residuals and a Roundup/Liberty post program. We really like the Extend Flex varieties. They provide strong yields and also a little ‘insurance’ from possible chemical trespass.”

Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana:

“Very little, if any, cotton has been planted, but that should begin soon with drier and warmer conditions.

“Last year, we went through a challenging planting season. But so far, it’s definitely been more difficult in 2020. Frequent showers made for challenging planting conditions with 2- to 3-day windows to plant.

“Corn planting ran from the first week of March to mid-April. We planted most of our corn in the first full week of April, which was the only full week we had this season. We’ve had a lot of spot replanting and there were entire fields with these challenging conditions while trying to get the crop planted in an optimum window.

“We have planted limited acres of soybeans, with a little going in two weeks ago. In the last few days, folks were starting to plant more beans after getting corn in. But we probably haven’t planted more than 10% to 15% of our soybean acres so far.

“A small but stable base of farmers grow peanuts in northeast Louisiana. A year or two ago, a couple of Madison Parish farmers came into the crop, too. In total, about 6 of our farmers raise peanuts every year now.”


Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist:

“As predicted, it’s raining here right now (4/28). We were just starting to dry up enough to begin planting cotton, then it rained yet again. That’s been the pattern this season and in the last two or three years, for that matter.

“On the positive side, it’s consistently warming up enough to start planting, with good DD-60s in the forecast. We really like to have all of our cotton planted by May 15.

“Corn planting is over. Even in northern Louisiana, April 22 starts getting a little late for most farmers to keep planting. Insurance deadlines have little influence on that decision. Most farmers go with the idea that April 22 is the approximate cutoff date for planting any more corn in this part of the state. As it works out, the insurance deadline and that planting cutoff roughly coincide.

“Last Wednesday (4/22), a tornado inflicted a huge amount of damage here at the Dean Lee Extension Center (at Alexandria). Our entire research farm – other than our office building – took a direct hit, leaving us with a pile of rubble. The storm pretty much leveled every building.

“Some of our equipment made it through okay but some didn’t. We’re still trying to sort through all the debris. The DeWitt Center where we hold meetings and conference is a total loss. All the equipment sheds and chemical storage buildings were all destroyed, too. The tornado destroyed all of my cottonseed. Luckily, our office building is set far enough away from the farm that it’s fine.

“More importantly, the tornado went right by the dorms and houses on the adjoining campus. A number of people who work on the farm live in those units, and no one was hurt.”

AgFax Midsouth Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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