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Cotton Farmers Nail Down 2020 With An Eye On 2021

lyle carraway

To grow cotton successfully, South Carolina cotton farmer Lyle Carraway focuses on seed selection, early season pest control, and careful monitoring from planting until harvest — photo by Brenda Carol

This season’s cotton crop results are right around the corner, but growers are already eying their strategy for the 2021 growing season. Some of them already have a preliminary attack plan in their head, if not yet entirely on an Excel spreadsheet.

“Mother Nature dealt us a fairly significant setback early this season,” says Lyle Carraway, a Lynchburg, South Carolina, farmer.

“I got so much rain right after planting that it drowned out a lot of the stand. As a result, it was skippy and somewhat difficult all season long. But that’s OK. I’ve seen worse.”

Carraway is strictly a dryland farmer, so uncertainty is one of the most predictable components of his strategy. “It’s very simple,” he says. “Some things you can control; some you can’t.”

Honing In On Management

In terms of things he can control, Carraway focuses on three inputs:

• Seed selection.

• Early season pest control.

• Careful monitoring from planting until harvest.

This year, he planted Deltapine 1646 B2XF. Even though the season got off to a rocky start due to excess rain, the variety seems to have performed reasonably well, Carraway says.

“You can’t do anything about the weather, except maybe time your planting,” he says. “After that, it’s early season pest pressure you have to watch. I don’t use insecticide-treated seed. It has been losing effectiveness for years now.”

Instead, Carraway has gone back to an old familiar nematode and thrips control product that he believes has served him well.

“I used to use Temik,” he says. “When it went off the market, I tried all sorts of different options for early season insect control.”

When Temik aldicarb was replaced with AgLogic aldicarb after a five-year hiatus from the market, Carraway seized on the opportunity in 2019 and again this season. His consultant agrees.

“Temik aldicarb pesticide was successfully marketed for more than 40 years,” says Jerry Adams, JLA Consulting Service LLC in Bishopville, South Carolina. “Over that time, we never saw anything that gave us the early season insect control with the consistency of aldicarb. AgLogic aldicarb is the same active ingredient with the same consistent performance.”

By The Numbers

Carraway applied AgLogic aldicarb in furrow at planting at 5 pounds per acre to his cotton in 2019 and again in 2020.

“Compared to what I had been seeing for a few years without it, I was very pleased,” he says. “You just can’t beat it considering the pests we are dealing with. It’s very effective on nematodes and thrips.”

Even though the in-furrow application costs more than seed treatments, Carraway justifies the investment by using only fungicide-treated seed. Based on his calculations, he saves about $10-$12 per acre by foregoing extra seed treatments.

“When you look at it like that, AgLogic aldicarb is only costing me about $20 an acre versus about $32 per acre,” he says. “That figure doesn’t even address what it saves us in early season pest control, fewer early season foliar applications and the benefits of more vigorous plant health.

“We also get a grow-off advantage. I had one hopper box in 2019 that was stopped up, and you could see the difference from planting, right up until we harvested.”

As the 2021 season approaches, Carraway may tweak a few inputs here and there, but he’s adamant he won’t gamble with early pest control and careful crop monitoring.

Will he use aldicarb again next year? “Absolutely,” he says.

Article by Brenda Carol on behalf of AgLogic.