North Carolina Cotton: Strong Planting Window Approaches

Soil temperature at a 3-inch depth was 62 degrees at 8 a.m. this morning (May 11). You can see how the variation in soil temperature across the state in Figure 1. It is a little surprising that the soil temperatures are as high as they are with the weather we have been having.

The low nighttime temperatures predicted for today through Wednesday night do not look good to maintain these marginal soil temperatures though (Table 1).

Figure 1. Soil temperatures at 8 a.m. on May 11, 2020. Click Image to Enlarge

The DD60’s predicted for the 10 days following planting at Rocky Mount are included in the table below. Conditions are poor until Wednesday, May 13, and don’t look great until Thursday, May 14.

Although the DD60 accumulation makes May 13 looks good, you should be cautious planting that day because of the previous cold temperatures and the low predicted nighttime temperature that night. Farther south in the state planting Wednesday might be marginal.

Look for soil temperatures to rise above 65 degrees to weather the cool night. Conditions from Thursday, May 14 through May 24 look very good.

Table 1. Predicted planting conditions on May 11, 2020. Click Image to Enlarge

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 8 days are based on predictions from

The table above is for Rocky Mount and based on the 14-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 here.

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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