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‘Begin With The End In Mind’ print email

Billy McLawhorn
McLawhorn Crop Services
Cove City, N.C.

We work with a group of incredibly resourceful growers, but on the dryland, sandy soils of the east-central Coastal Plains of North Carolina, our long-term yields are mostly 700 to 900 pounds. This year, before the remnants of Hurricane Ida dropped seven to nine inches of rain, most of our growers were picking the best crop they ever had, averaging more than 1,200 pounds.

As of Nov. 14, about half of them still had significant acreage in the field and were hoping for a long stretch of good harvest weather in late November.

A number of reasons why the crop was delayed include:
1) Cool conditions in May and September.
2) Reduced use of starter fertilizers ($$) and less Temik.
3) Dry conditions when mepiquat applications needed to be applied.

A few things that went right include:

1) We now have some very good varieties.

2) We had good weather at critical times: Just enough moisture throughout most of the season, sunshine during boll set, no excessive heat and little hard lock.

3) Nothing was unusually difficult regarding insects. Our usual mixture and spotty cases of plant bugs, aphids and fairly persistent stinkbugs were all manageable.

4) Growers were fairly aggressive with mepiquat, given the lack of mid-season rainfall.

5) When the crop finally got close to being fully mature, our guys nailed it with high rates of ethephon included in their defoliants and tried to pick as soon as they could.

Our growers are accustomed to waiting on the last mature boll to open. It normally opens in September or early October, but we did not always have that luxury in ‘09. This year, we were probably more aggressive with mepiquat than we have ever been under the conditions and defoliated more cotton that was not fully mature than we ever have before. Although I had some self-doubt at the time, if I had it to do over again, I would have been even more aggressive with these inputs.

Dr. Stephen Covey’s advice, “Begin with the end in mind,” seems to fit mighty well. Inputs like Temik and starter fertilizer should be less important with late planting, but in a short-season situation, we may need every little edge we can get.

Click here to ask Billy McLawhorn a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

• B.S. in Agronomy – NC State University, 1978
• Independent consultant since 1982
• Charter member and past president of North
  Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association
• Member/past president of NAICC and the
  Foundation for Environmental Education
• Certified Professional Crop Consultant
• Certified Professional Agronomist
• Married to Martha for 28 years. Two children:
  Cassandra and Chad, who is married to Christy
• Three grandchildren: Zoe, Sari and Wyatt
• Enjoys music, farming, golf, fishing, playing with

Recap: ‘Begin With The
End In Mind’
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