Virginia Cotton: Evaluating Prematurely Cut-Out Crops

    Wilting, moisture stressed cotton. Photo: University of Georgia

    When I look at the forecast today, it looks like everybody is going to get some rain during the next several days to a week. However, we have faced this type of forecast two other times in July and some got it while other communities have missed it all. One farmer told me yesterday, “I don’t need rain, I need mud.”

    Overall we are entering the third week of bloom with three scenarios with our cotton.

    • The best cotton has gotten a good amount of rain a couple of times in July and cotton is growing.
    • Over half the cotton has gotten enough rain in July to keep it hanging on but is blooming high, and needs rain quickly to make a good crop.
    • The other extreme represents cotton that has missed everything for the last three weeks.
    • In front of what looks like a promising chance of hopefully ‘some mud’, folks are waiting on significant rain before they spend any more money and even then, the question is “does it have a chance?”
    • The best approach is to evaluate this more stressed cotton after it gets good rainfall. Since even tiny squares have time to produce a mature boll, count everything on the plant in early August with moist soil and you can judge the potential.
    • Of course it will take more rain in August to fill it out to realize the potential, but a lot of this stressed cotton still has more than 200 pieces of fruit/10 ft. and that can make 2 bales. It will also probably start regrowing and that is a topic for another day.

    Some observations to help put a plan together:

    Weeds

    • Some Liberty plus Roundup sprays several weeks to a month ago are showing that typical recovery of goose grass and redroot pigweed.
    • Roundup does not kill as good when Liberty is mixed with it. Although Roundup improves Liberty performance, Liberty hurts roundup and we are missing some big stuff that Roundup alone would have taken out.
    • Some people think they have some resistant Palmer when they see that recovering pigweed and it might just be redroot that roundup kills fine when used alone.
    • Use roundup alone for general cleanup. Address fields with a history of palmer individually.
    • Liberty is not labeled for blooming cotton, plus it does not kill big weeds and antagonizes roundup.

    Insects

    • It’s been a long time since we have had a low bug year. I think they do not do well on drought stressed plants so may not have built up in corn or just not able to have as many children on a poor diet.
    • Beneficial insects and predators are also devouring aphids, plant bugs, spider mites and eggs in fields that haven’t had an insecticide in several weeks or ever.
    • The dilemma is that we have a building moth flight expected to be large and long, and we are beginning the third week of bloom by the calendar and perhaps further based on heat units and it is time to clean up any cotton with a good yield potential (most cotton has more than 200 fruit/10 feet). Plus soil moisture is improving, slowly but surely.
    • So for me it is a question of yield potential and protection. Scouting will let you know where not to spray.

    Growth Management

    • The yield benefits of pix as well as the harm from pix is about gone and our main goal now is to keep cotton in check.



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