Spending the early morning hours out on a cotton farm or in university or industry test plots is a time for reflection, for watching. By definition, observation is the process of observing something carefully to gain information.
Observing different cotton varieties continues throughout the day — even throughout the season — and opinions are formed. Even professional baseball’s Yogi Berra said, “You can learn a lot by just watching.” And artist Colin Poole said, “There are no secrets, no formulas. It’s just a matter of looking carefully.”
Once the cotton varieties have been evaluated in these various scenarios, the best performers are chosen for commercial release. It’s always a process, but in the end, farmers reap the benefits of having a plethora of options from which to choose — conventional varieties; traited varieties; early, mid- and late-maturing varieties and so on. The choices are extensive.
Check out Cotton Farming’s Seed Variety Guide on page 8 to see some of the headliners submitted by the cottonseed companies for 2023.
The next piece of the cotton production puzzle is opportunity — a particular group of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. Opportunity can be a little trickier than observation and options because it often involves the uncontrollable whims of Mother Nature.
On page 20, state cotton specialists discuss opportunities — lost and found — that shaped the 2022 crop. Tennessee’s Tyson Raper said, “Early May initially introduced herself as one of the best planting windows we’d seen in the past five, if not 10, years. Unfortunately, many saw that window crash closed with excessive rainfalls…. Perspective is important; we are fortunate and grateful to be where we are relative to where we thought we might be at the end of July.”
Florida’s David Wright noted the potential timeline for this year’s harvest and suggested farmers take advantage of the post-harvest opportunity to plant cover crops and pull soil samples. “Most cotton will harvest in October and will be finished in November from late-planted fields,” he said. “It is time to plant cover crops and winter crops and pull soil samples for nematodes and nutrient testing. The economic climate changes for crops every year — with fertilizer prices being the big story for 2022.”
As you make your cotton growing plans for next season, aim for ones that will fit the potential circumstances you would like to see happen. But also keep Plan B in your back pocket for any surprises that may show up along the way.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!