Virginia Cotton: A Few Nice Days, Then Chill Concerns

    Cotton planter in residue. Photo: Alabama Cooperative Extension

    That really nice string of warm days that we like to see in order to plant cotton is going to give us a wink this weekend.

    • Saturday through Monday are going to be quite nice.
    • The concern is that it is going to get chilly again next week for a good five days. It is not going to be that damaging cold type weather we get that will cause chilling injury, but it will basically be a temperature stall out for crops that need 60 degrees or more to develop.
    • After that it will be close to the middle of May before we can get the weather that we want unless this whole weather forecast thing takes a 180.
    • Anyway, the short term decision is whether or not to get some acres in the ground this weekend.
    • I think we have made our best cotton from planting in the second and third week of May for years now. Plus the last week of May yields as good as the first week.
    • Farming operations that can plant all their cotton in a week or 10 days can and probably should wait for better times.
    • However, if you gotta go, then I think it will be slow coming out of the ground, but put it shallow on good sandy land and it’ll be fine.

    One question I am getting is regarding planting 1646 in these conditions. There are probably 3 components for getting a good stand in less than adequate conditions; one is cool germ, the second is genetic vigor and the third is seed size.

    • If you have low cool germ, you should not plant any variety in marginal or poor conditions or even good conditions.
    • We had some problems with this last year, particularly some 340. But if the germ was good, then it did fine.
    • Variety genetic vigor is a big deal, but most varieties have not had enough of these type conditions for us lay people to know.
    • 1646 is lower in vigor at planting and higher in vigor at bloom, but varieties that have only been around for a couple years or less have not been through this type of cool start in Virginia.
    • If your (230K) bag weighs less than 44 – 45 pounds, it is getting in the small seed category. It can germinate fine but will have less pushing power, so the issue may be more related to soil type and rainfall amounts with small seed.
    • Low pushing power is also more significant when it will take a longer time for seed to emerge.



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