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Insects, Weeds & Crop Mix Decisions

Based on the results of our April Web Poll, the anticipated insect and/or weed pest spectrum may be a consideration in the crop mix decision-making process, but other factors are certainly part of the equation, too.

After the votes were tallied, 30 percent of the respondents say the anticipated insect and/or weed pest spectrum does affect their crop mix, while 70 percent say it is not a factor or is not the only thing that affects their decision. If these two production-related considerations are not the driving forces to determine a producer’s crop mix, then what is?

Our non-scientific research indicates that market signals, the price of inputs for various crops and weather may have more influence on which crops will be planted and how much acreage will be designated for each one.

According to an Economic Research Service-USDA report, “Greater wealth does not affect the relative returns from producing alternative crops, so in general, allocation of the additional acreage among competing uses is still determined by market signals. However, potential financial risk may be perceived differently by people who have different levels of wealth, and changes in farmers’ wealth levels may affect their response to risk.”

In addition to market prices, the price of inputs for a particular crop can have a bearing on crop mix. For example, with the high price of fertilizer, a farmer may opt to put more acres into cotton or soybeans, especially if market prices for these crops are attractive.

Weather conditions may lead to last minute changes in a producer’s crop mix. Say a farmer had planned to plant 1,000 acres of corn and was able to plant 500 acres before being hit by a couple of weeks of rainy weather. As the optimal planting window for corn begins to close, that farmer may opt to shift the other 500 acres into cotton.

In response to whether the anticipated insect and/or weed pest spectrum will affect the crop mix, following is a sampling of comments from readers who voted in the April Web Poll. We appreciate everyone’s feedback.

• “If farmers altered their planting intentions significantly in ‘anticipation’ of disease and pest problems, they would not plant at all. While some anticipation is always involved, we somehow seem to get something other than what we expect. True enough, this year ‘seems’ to be predisposed to problems, particularly diseases; however, conditions can reverse quickly.”

• “Kern County: Yes, we had a mild winter, so we have to consider potential pest problems.”

• “Problems with lygus and spider mites will affect the amount of cotton that is planted in the north central Mississippi Delta.”

• “Southeast Alabama: The price of inputs for each crop will heavily influence my planting this year.”

• “The insect pressure in the eastern Tennessee Valley has remained about the same over the past five years. We have resistant marestail in this area and have modified our herbicide program to address marestail with the residual herbicides.”

• “With all the rainfall we’ve had this year, farmers can’t get in their fields. Flying on a herbicide is not an option for most farmers in this area. Therefore, weeds are emerging and getting a head start. We need a good week to dry out and, hopefully, get a post-emergence application out.”

This month we are polling our readers to find out how they would describe their stand of cotton early in the season and to what do they attribute its condition at this time?

To participate in this month’s Web Poll, go online at www.cottonfarming.com. The results of the June poll will be reported in the Cotton Farming August issue.

Web Poll Results

In April, we asked: Will the anticipated insect and/or weed pest spectrum affect your crop mix this year and why?

• Yes — 30 %
• No — 70 %.

June Web Poll Question

How would you describe your stand of cotton at this time and to what do you attribute its condition? Please include your area of the Cotton Belt when you make a comment.

(1) Excellent
(2) Very good
(3) Good
(4) Fair
(5) Poor

Register your vote at www.cottonfarming.com

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