North Carolina Cotton: Planting Forecast Looks A Bit Dismal

Photo: North Carolina State University

Soil temperature at a 3-inch depth was 60.4 degrees at 8 a.m. this morning (May 1). What is particularly alarming is that soils temps did not rise up to at least the mid-60’s yesterday and could often be the case next week based on the predicted temperatures in Table 1.

FIgure 1 – Soil temperatures at Rocky mount at a 3 inch depth.

The DD60s predicted for the 5 days following planting at Rocky Mount are included in the table below.

Conditions look to be declining after today Monday, with another couple of cool nights predicted for  May 7 and 9. We can get decent stands in with this kind of weather but the seed needs to be strong (good cool germ) by not planting to deeply. You may want to consider delaying planting until noon after some of these cool nights to let soils warm up if you need to plant during this period.

We would like to see the soil temperature close to 65 degrees.

CLICK TO ENLARGE Table 1. Predicted planting conditions on May 1, 2020.
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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

The table above 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.

It looks like we could be in for a rather challenging cotton planting season with the temperatures for the next 8-14 days predicted to be below normal. The prediction has changed and rainfall is now predicted to be below normal.

This makes it even more important that we know our cool germination results and take care to adjust seeding rates according to conditions and seed quality.

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