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From Hurdles To Harvest print email

William Price III
Price A&E Consulting Services Inc.
Charleston, Miss.

Every growing season offers a new and often different set of challenges to cotton in Mississippi and throughout the Cotton Belt. This year has been no less challenging.

From early flooding and cold weather, to mid-season drought with extreme daytime and nighttime temperatures, this crop has had a wide spectrum of hurdles to overcome. Thrips, plants bugs, four-bract squares, bacterial blight, bollworms and spider mites: You name it, and this crop seems to have faced it. All things considered, this year’s cotton crop looks very good, and if the weather is favorable from this point on, our growers should be looking at a very profitable harvest.

Each year at this time consultants are asked two major questions by growers: “When can I stop irrigating?” and “When can I terminate insecticide applications?” While these are two different questions, acting on one rarely goes without effect on the other.

Late-planted, irrigated cotton is usually the cotton that poses the most difficult answer to these two questions. If we don’t continue to irrigate late enough, we are cutting our crops short and not maximizing yield. If we continue irrigating too deeply into the season, we are potentially diverting plant resources into additional fruit, which may not have the time to mature and be harvested.

Also, this added fruit might offer nothing more than to keep a field attractive to late-season insect pests, which may cause the need for additional insecticide applications. As the month of September arrives, we consultants try as best as we can to determine where the last pickable fruit site is located on our crop, and at what point it is safe to terminate insecticide applications.

Two important tools that can help make these decisions are: 1) Knowing the heat units (DD60s) acquired after Nodes Above White Flower = 5 (NAWF = 5) and 2) Looking at the last possible cut-out dates in your given area. Using DD60 accumulation combined with historical data for the last possible cut-out date helps determine which fruit sites we believe can be harvested. Once you decide on which fruit sites up the plant are profitable to protect, it becomes easier to decide when irrigation should be terminated. Likewise, knowing the DD60s accumulated after NAWF = 5 is very helpful in deciding when these last harvestable bolls are safe from insect pests.

Every growing season is different, and no one knows in any given year what the exact date to terminate a crop may actually be. However, with diligent scouting, experience and the use of these, as well as many other tools, we can all help our growers to efficiently maximize their yields and their profits.

Click here to ask William Price III a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

• B.S. in Agricultural Pest Management – Mississippi
  State University
• M.S. in Entomology – Mississippi State University
• Consultant for Price A&E Consulting Services Inc. for
  nine years. Owner: Bill Price Jr. – 44 years experience
• Member of Mississippi Agricultural Consultants
  Association (MACA)
• Served on MACA Scholarship Committee for three   years
• Enjoys hunting, fishing, golf, boating, outdoor grilling
  and spending time with family and loved ones

Recap:
From Hurdles to Harvest

1. Despite experiencing early flooding and cold weather, mid-season drought, thrips, plant bugs, four-bract squares, bacterial blight, bollworms and spider mites, the 2011 Mississippi crop looks good.

2. It’s difficult to determine when to stop irrigation and when to terminate insecticide applications on late-planted, irrigated cotton.

3. If we don’t continue to irrigate late enough, we are not maximizing yield. If we irrigate too far into the season, we can potentially divert plant resources into additional fruit, which may not mature enough to be harvested.

4. Added fruit might make a field attractive to late-season insect pests, which may call for additional insecticide applications.

5. Two important decision-making tools are: 1) Knowing the heat units (DD60s) acquired after Nodes Above White Flower = 5 (NAWF = 5) and 2) Looking at the last possible cut-out dates in your
given area.

6. Determining which fruit sites up the plant are profitable to protect makes it easier to decide when to terminate irrigation. Knowing the DD60s accumulated after NAWF = 5 is helpful in deciding when these last harvestable bolls are safe from insect pests.

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