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Learn From 2011 To Help Plan For 2012 print email

Paul D. Wilson
Triple D Consulting
Wynne, Ark.

This has been one of the longest and most challenging years of my career. Cotton planting started in April and ended around June 10. There have been years when I’ve had a small amount of cotton planted late, but this year 15 percent of my acres were planted in June. Most of our cotton was booked early in the year.

The flood of 2011 really put producers in an uncomfortable position of planting outside of the normal window. With June cotton, you hope for two bales but can only expect about 750 pounds. For our late cotton, we chose to plant our earliest varieties, reduced nitrogen rates and aggressively applied mepichlor. Our plan was to squeeze a full crop into a short season. Unfortunately, a cool spell that showed up around Labor Day greatly reduced our yield potential.

Now is the time when I start to re-evaluate the year with my farmers. One of the key issues to consider is “How can we improve our weed control (mainly pigweed)?” Some options to consider are LibertyLink varieties, rotation to different crops, use of different chemistries and application timing. Farmers in my area have been proactive in trying to manage resistant weeds. With so much of our programs relying on residuals, we are still at the mercy of Mother Nature to provide activation. In some cases, the right chemicals were applied and at the right time only to watch a flush of weeds coming through.

The next step in looking back involves our variety selections. We take into consideration which variety preformed well and those that did not meet our standards. It’s important to see how a variety performs across a wide range of conditions. I rely on OVT trials provided by universities and what worked across my acres.

Fall is an excellent time of year to start soil sampling. The majority of my cotton acres are grid sampled. The samples are set up on five-acre grids. Samples are pulled every two to three years. I send most of my soil samples to the University of Arkansas Soil Lab in Marianna. Fertilizer prescriptions are based on each producer’s yield potential. Grid sampling has saved my growers a lot of money. Most importantly, I recommend applying fertilizer at the right rate and precisely in the right area.

The biggest savings of grid sampling comes from lime applications. It’s amazing to see the variation of pH throughout a field. My goal is to let each field reach full yield potential at the lowest cost possible.

While we haven’t closed the book on 2011, we are already starting to prepare for 2012.

Click here to ask Paul D. Wilson a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

• B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Ag Business –
  Arkansas State University
• Twenty-three years experience as a consultant
• Wife, Dana. Sons, Davis (12) and Drew (5)
• Enjoys hunting and reading

Recap:
Learn From 2011 To Plan For 2012

1. For our late cotton, we chose to plant our earliest varieties, reduced nitrogen rates and aggressively applied mepichlor.

2. In re-evaluating the year with my farmers, one of the key issues we will consider is how to improve our weed control, especially pigweed control.

3. Some options we are looking at include LibertyLink varieties, rotation to different crops, use of different chemistries and timing of applications.

4. As for variety selection, we take into consideration which variety performed well and those that did not meet our standards. I rely on university OVT trials and what worked across my acres.

5. The majority of my cotton acres are grid sampled. The samples are set up on five-acre grids and are pulled every two to three years and sent to the University of Arkansas Soil Lab in Marianna.

6. Fertilizer prescriptions are based on each producer’s yield potential. It’s important to apply fertilizer at the right rate and precisely in the right area.

7. The biggest savings of grid sampling comes from lime applications.

8. My goal is to let each field reach full yield potential at the lowest cost possible.

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