When I started scouting for the Extension service in 1981, the first crop I worked was cotton and, with a name like mine, I knew it was my destiny. I took a job with Griggs Gin Co., out of Pinehurst, Ga., as its in-house consultant and later worked for a consulting firm in Smithville before incorporating my own business in 1991. I think we have one of the best Extension teams in the country. They all work really well with consultants and farmers and are instrumental in helping us and keeping us in check.
Focus On Plant Bug And Pigweed Control
This year, we started off with adequate rainfall, then it got dry. Plant bugs were pretty relentless all season, but we were able to manage them. We used a good bit of Transform and tankmixes with Transform, which did a superb job in cleaning them up. Most of our plant bug applications go out in the second week of squaring. We have a lot of woods and other hosts. Plant bugs will actually build up in areas, then come into the cotton fields. Transform did what we wanted it to do. It cleaned up the plant bugs. In early September, we had some late stink bugs, but, for the most part, everything is falling into place crop wise.
Pigweed is our primary weed problem. We generally make burndown applications in February and March, followed by PPOs behind the planter. Within 14 days after planting, we come back with our first post application, typically Dual or Warrant for pigweed suppression and Roundup. Then 14 to 17 days after the first post, we come back with a second post, followed up roughly four weeks later with a layby application. Where we can activate herbicides with irrigation, we’ve been able to manage the pigweed. On dryland cotton, we can get some escapes here and there if we are not able to activate the herbicides. Every field is different. If we have morningglory issues, we apply Staple. However, I am fortunate that my producers are A-No. 1. They are very timely with their applications and recognize the cost associated with pulling pigweed. They do an excellent job of keeping the crop clean.
Our fertility management programs are based on soil type and crop. We are realistic on yield goals based on water. We’ve got to have rainfall to make a crop, so we fertilize accordingly to make the crop that we know we can make. If Mother Nature cooperates, we come out a little better. Right now, we are sitting on a great crop. Most of our irrigated cotton is exceptional. About 90 percent of our cotton was planted from late April to the third week in May.
We’ve had a few untimely late rains, so boll rot is evident in some areas. As far as disease, target spot showed up two weeks later than it normally does. We started picking it up on cotton in the fifth and sixth week of bloom. In spite of this, we probably are looking at the best crop we have made in years, including 2012. If we can get some dry weather and low humidity, we are set up, even with these low commodity prices, to make a profitable crop this year.
More about Kevin Cotton:
- Owner of High Cotton Consultants, Inc. in Leesburg, Ga.
- Consults on cotton, corn, soybeans, peanuts and grain sorghum
- Also consults for a dairy where they chop silage rye, oats and corn silage. Works wheat and does variable-rate soil sampling in the winter
- Member of the Georgia Association of Professional Agricultural Consultants (GAPAC)
- Married to wife, Tammy. Two children: Son, Corey, attends the University of Georgia and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Ag Science & Environmental Systems. Daughter, Kylie, attends Valdosta State in Valdosta, Ga.
- Enjoys Auburn University football, hunting, boat riding with the family and deep sea fishing in the winter and early spring