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    Louisiana: Cotton Planting Considerations

    Cotton acreage in Louisiana is expected to increase substantially this year. Now is a great time to review a few key recommendations to ensure the 2022 season gets off to a great start. In Louisiana, cotton is generally planted in mid-April to mid-May but planting decisions should be based on soil temperature and not the calendar.

    Early planting is a key component of successful cotton production; however, if planted too early, yield potential can be reduced. Before deciding to plant, it is important to consider factors such as soil temperature and heat units (DD60s).

    Soil temperature is the main factor influencing seedling growth rate. Cool soils (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) can cause chilling injury to germinating plants. Chilling injury can reduce vigor and increase the likelihood of seedling disease issues.

    Good germination and emergence can be expected once the soil temperature at a 4-inch depth is 65 degrees Fahrenheit or greater at 8 a.m. for at least three consecutive days with a good five-day forecast following planting. Once soil temperature is optimal, it is important to calculate the number of DD60s for the next five days to determine if conditions are optimal for planting.

    Emergence generally occurs after the accumulation of 50 to 80 DD60s after planting. If the five-day forecast after planting predicts the accumulation of less than 26 DD60s, planting should be postponed. Also, the low temperature for the next five days should remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

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    Two to three cotton plants per foot of row is the ideal final plant population on 30 to 40-inch rows. To achieve this stand, seeding rates should be slightly higher based on the actual stated germination. Seed sizes vary, and the number of cotton seeds per pound can range from 3,700 to 5,800. Therefore, seeding rates must be based on seed number per acre and not seed weight per acre.

    Most commercial cotton seed will have at least an 80% germination reported on the seed tag. This is the result of the warm germination test. Field conditions typically are more adverse than laboratory tests, and cool germination test results are a good indicator of seedling vigor.

    For example, a seed lot with 85% cool germination is more vigorous than one with 65% cool germination. However, if the 65% cool germination lot is planted under ideal conditions, overall germination is likely to be as high as the 85% lot. Conversely, under adverse conditions the 85% cool germination lot is likely to germinate at a much higher rate than the 65% cool germination lot.

    Growers are encouraged to request cool germination test results from seed companies. Remember, a cotton seed is a living organism that is used as a delivery mechanism for genetic traits, transgenic technology and even pesticide seed treatments.

    Care should be taken to preserve and plant high-quality seed to ensure adequate plant stands. Best of luck during the upcoming season.




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