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
‘Begin With The
End In Mind’