Home » Consultant's Corner » Focus On Maximum Economic Yield

Focus On Maximum Economic Yield

Jan 2015 Cotton Farming_Page_07_Image_0001

B.S. degree in animal science – University of Georgia M.S. degree in animal science and agronomy – Clemson University Established Cely Crop Consulting in 1996 Consults on cotton, peanuts, tobacco and wheat Member of the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association Married to wife, Barbara. Two grown children: Ellen Travaglio and Joseph Cely, Jr. Four grandchildren Enjoys woodworking, fishing and spending time at Lake Marion

Joe Cely
Cely Crop Consulting
Pamplico, S.C.

I was a county agent for 30 years with Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. When I retired in 1996 here in Florence, I started consulting full-time. In 2004, my daughter, Ellen, joined me, and now we are partners in Cely Crop Consulting based in Pamplico.

Our growers take soil samples early in order to get the results back from the lab so we can begin making plans for the next season. Also, determining the crop mix is very important. Cotton, peanuts and tobacco are our “money crops.” The majority of our growers plant two of these, whether it’s cotton and tobacco, peanuts and tobacco or cotton and peanuts. A few producers plant all three. Soybeans typically are planted on land that we are not using for cotton, peanuts or tobacco, and corn is our rotation crop. We help growers select their crop mix based on projected commodity prices.

Variety Selection And Pigweed Control

As far as variety selection, we always consider soil type, whether nematodes are present and the results of the Official Variety Trials (OVTs). The PhytoGen varieties have been good in our area. PhytoGen brand PHY 499 WRF is a real workhorse for us. We typically plant it on our better land for the potential yield that we can get. It also does well on sandy land. If I am aiming for three-bale cotton, I look to 499.

Sponsored by Dow AgroSciencesOne of the biggest challenges in our area is controlling resistant pigweed. If the weather cooperates on dryland cotton, we have the tools to control this pest. But if pigweed is allowed to germinate, we are in trouble. A lot of the herbicides that we use to control pigweed are surface-applied, so they need moisture for activation. With irrigation, we do a pretty good job. We can put the herbicide out, then water it in if need be. But with dry- land cotton, we are dependent on the weather.

We try to start clean by making a burndown application, then come back at planting with one of the yellow herbicides followed by a pre-emerge application. Ten days to two weeks later, we make another herbicide application. About two weeks after that, we apply one of the herbicides that we did not use in the prior application. The herbicides we choose depend on conventional or conservation tillage practices and which varieties have been planted. This weed control strategy usually takes us up to layby. At that time, we have several products from which to choose.

In the insect arena, we control thrips early and depend on scouting to determine when stink bugs hit the threshold level. Stink bugs are our No. 1 insect pest. Fortunately, we really don’t have a problem with plant bugs compared to some other areas of the Cotton Belt.

Everyone knows that I am most interested in maximum economic yield. Although I advise our growers to look for ways to cut costs, I don’t ask them to do anything that will jeopardize yields. I still think we can make money growing cotton, but we will have to budget even more closely than we have in the past and be frugal in the decisions that we make in 2015.


Recap: Focus On Maximum Economic Yield

1. Determining the crop mix is very important. Cotton, peanuts and
tobacco are our “money crops.”
2. As far as variety selection, we always consider soil type, whether
nematodes are present and the results of the Official Variety Trials.
3. PHY 499 WRF is a real workhorse for us. We typically plant it on our
better land for the potential yield that we can get. It also does well
on sandy land. If I am aiming for three-bale cotton, I look to 499.
4. One of the biggest challenges in our area is controlling resistant
pigweed. A lot of the herbicides that we use to control pigweed are
surface-applied, so they need moisture for activation.
5. The herbicides we choose depend on conventional or conservation
tillage practices and which varieties have been planted.
6. We control thrips early and depend on scouting to determine when
stink bugs hit threshold level. Stink bugs are our No. 1 insect pest.
7. We really don’t have a problem with plant bugs compared to some
other areas of the Cotton Belt.
8. Although I am most interested in maximum economic yield, I don’t
ask my growers to do anything that will jeopardize yields.