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    Texas West Plains Cotton: Hot, Dry, Windy as Water Needs Increase

    Wilting, moisture stressed cotton. Photo: University of Georgia

    Hot, dry, windy conditions have continued to be the primary factor determining the fate of our crops. Forecast calls for more moderate temperatures starting Sunday through middle of next week, with a chance of precipitation.

    These conditions have made it very difficult to keep up with crop water demands, and subsequently even turning water on. If you consider that a cotton plant which is squaring (small percentage of fields right now) will use approximately 0.22″ water daily and our evapotranspiration rate can be well over 0.25″ daily. So, figure needing just shy of 0.50″ every day.

    This moisture is either needs to be delivered by an irrigation system or from stored moisture in the soil. The use curve goes up considerably as we go into bloom and boll development.

    So, the point now is to make any water you apply count. Obviously drip irrigation has the advantage in these situations in terms of application efficiency. On pivots, low drops or drags are best. Any method of management to squeeze just another tenth or two of efficiency out of your water will go a long way.

    Volunteer cotton in the row middles represents cotton which will not be harvested, takes precious moisture and nutrients, and will create more volunteer. Plow it out as soon as possible.

    Cotton, represented by the IPM Scouting Program fields, is averaging 6.5 true leaves or nodes (range of cotyledon to 9 nodes); there are 0.8 squares per plant out of 0.8, for a %100 retention (range of squares is 0 – 4 per plant), and first fruiting position is 6.6 node; plants are averaging 0.5” per total internode length; average plant population (irrigated only) is averaging 27,500 plants per acre (range of 19,500 – 41,000 plants per acre).

    Insect pests are few and far between. Not seeing much other than an occasional thrips and hooded beetles (not considered a pest). I am seeing various moths and millers working weeds in field margins (cutworms, fall armyworms etc.) but not seeing much activity in weed managed fields. I have taken a few sweep net samples in field margins (white weeds, kochia, careless weeds, black medic etc.) and have picked up on a few fleahoppers, no lygus.




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