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In This Issue
Managing ‘May 50th’ Cotton Acres
SE Producers Adjusting To ‘Post-555 Era’
Editor's Note: Best Kept Secret? Missouri Cotton
Cotton's Agenda: A Prudent Priority
Specialists Speaking
Cotton Ginners Marketplace: TCGA Concludes Successful Summer Meeting
Industry Comments
Web Poll: Variable Rate Interest Increases
My Turn: Breaking All The Rules

Managing ‘May 50th’ Cotton Acres

By Carroll Smith
Senior Writer
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When it pertains to cotton farming, nobody likes the “R” word – replant. Sometimes it’s a hard call to make, but if it must be done – as several east-central Louisiana producers decided this season – there are ways to manage a late-planted crop.

Danny Baker, who farms near Jonesville and is part owner of Jonesville Gin, planted several hundred acres of dryland cotton, which did receive a rain that brought up part of the crop, but, in the end, he had to replant a couple of hundred acres during the second week in June.

“Growing soybeans is not an option for us on this farm, so we made the decision to replant those cotton acres,” Baker says. “We planted DP 555 BG/RR and ST 5288B2F.”

The Louisiana farmer says he will leave the “how to manage the late-planted cotton” decision-making to his consultant Roger Carter with AMS, Inc., in Clayton.

“I know I will have to pay attention to the defoliation timing,” Baker says. “We’ll take the cotton as far as it will go, probably 65 percent open bolls, then we’ll have to defoliate it a little early to give us time to pick it.”

Extra Urea Strategy

Another of Carter’s clients, Chase Williams, who farms on Louisiana Delta south of Jonesville, also faced a replant situation in the second week of June when he had an 80 percent stand on 320 acres of ST 5288B2F.

“I replanted most of it back to 5288, then when I ran out of that variety, I planted DP 141 B2RF on the remaining acres,” Williams says. “As soon as I got the cotton up, I watered it with a center pivot.

“However, the pivot keeps the ground just wet enough to keep the crop going, but we really need a good rain so the fertilizer can do its job. Right now, I’ve got 100 units under that cotton, but since it is a little stunted, I’ll probably fly on another 24 pounds of urea per acre (July 12) to try to jump-start it.”

Williams says each year is a learning experience for him since he began farming on his own in 2004. He has grown his acreage from 200 to approximately 1,800 acres in 2010.

“Because I started on my own with little help, I think this will make me a better farmer,” he says. “I love to farm and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Managing Late-Planted Cotton

• Be prepared for quick decision-making
  when managing a late-planted crop.
• Scout very carefully for insects because
  pressure will be high.
• If late-planted cotton appears to need a PGR,
   make the application quickly.
• If high temperatures with a forecast of
  continued dry, droughty weather exist,
  don’t apply a PGR.
• Defoliating five days before a freeze hits is
  ideal to give the defoliation regimen time to
  work properly.

Quick Decision-Making

John Kruse, LSU AgCenter Extension cotton specialist, also has some advice for producers who are working with late-planted cotton, which calls for intense management and quick decision-making.

First, if the late-planted cotton is non-Bt, the farmer should watch for insects much more carefully.

“Even with Bt cotton, the surrounding crops are maturing ahead of the late-planted crop,” he says. “Insects are prone to funnel into the late-planted crop, and pressure will be high. Insect threshold numbers will change faster than they would in an earlier planted crop. When that happens, it’s important to make quick decisions regarding insecticide applications.”

As far as plant growth regulators (PGRs) in late-planted cotton, Kruse says this is a management issue.

“If the late-planted cotton appears to need a plant growth regulator, make the application quickly instead of waiting around for a week or so,” he says. “However, it’s also important to check the forecast first. If you’re looking at high temperatures with a forecast of continued dry, droughty weather, then don’t apply a PGR.”

Defoliation Timing

When to defoliate is another management issue associated with late-planted cotton. Kruse checked with other cotton specialists, and the consensus appears to be that 60 to 65 percent open bolls makes sense, especially if there is a threat of a freeze coming.

“When you decide to defoliate, ideally you want a five-day window before a freeze hits so the defoliation regimen will have time to work,” Kruse says. “Two days is an absolute minimum, but it’s a good idea to keep up with the weather forecast and stay ahead of the freeze by several days.”

Although managing late-planted cotton is certainly not at the top of a farmer’s “things I most enjoy doing list,” intensive management, a sense of urgency in decision-making and a little luck will make the most of the late crop’s potential at harvest time.

Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or

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