Is It Time To Consider Precision Farming?

Bruce Kirksey
Bruce Kirksey

As we begin making plans for our crop production this year, we will be scrutinizing some areas of our production that we haven’t been doing in the past few years. With crop prices the way they are and our input costs the same as last year or higher, we will have to focus more on certain areas than we have before.

Soil fertility issues, weed control and crop scouting will have to be as precise as possible. This may be the year to emphasize precision farming.

We got off to a good start in 2014 preparing our fields for planting. Preplant fertilizer (20-60-80) was applied, and all hipped ground for cotton was ready to plant by mid-April. We generally try and plant cotton by May 10. We received about 3.5 inches of rain during the first week.

It seems that the last few years we’ve seen heavier rainfall events than previously received. More and more we are receiving two to three inches of rain. We started splitting our nitrogen application a few years ago because of this. We now knife in the remainder of our nitrogen right around pinhead square. This pretty much assures us that a lot of our nitrogen will not be leached out.

There were many fields in West Tennessee this year with streaking in the fields due to excessive rainfall. This year’s cotton trial was planted on May 8, and cotton was harvested on Nov. 9.

During the growing season, we received 34.6 inches of total rainfall. DD60s averaged 18.6 heat units for June, 16.6 for July and 21 in August. We were lucky to finally get some heat to finish the crop off this year. We accumulated 2,425 total heat units for the 2014 growing season.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Our cotton variety trials were managed for optimum yields and quality. The variety trials were conducted on a Falaya silt loam with pH of 6.3 and OM content of 0.9 percent. We applied Cotoran + Dual Magnum preemergence and came back over the top with glyphosate two times. We also came in with a post-direct rig at layby to help control our Palmer pigweed with a residual.

With the cool summer that we had, we were worrying about getting the bolls open. At about 60 percent open bolls, we went with a half rate of a defoliant and eight ounces of PGR. This seemed to work extremely well by knocking some of the top leaves off and allowing for more air to circulate under the crop. We came back 10 days later with a full shot of defoliant followed by a full shot of PGR. This combination seemed to work well for us.

Conditions Affect Data
Agricenter represents just one location, and the data presented here corresponds to growing conditions that we had this year on that particular location planted on a certain date.

Consult your university variety trials, local county variety trials as well as data from the seed companies. Be sure and attend some local producer meetings. Utilize all of this information prior to making your decision for which varieties you may want to plant.

The Agricenter and I would like to thank everyone for their support and assistance in fulfilling our commitment to those in the agricultural industry. We hope you had a good year, and we wish you a very successful 2015.

Bruce Kirksey is the Director of Research at Agricenter International in Memphis, Tenn. Contact him at (901) 757-7754 or

Related Articles

Quick Links

E-News Sign-up

Connect With Cotton Farming