Agricenter’s Season In Review

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Tennessee cotton acreage is down 38 percent from last year. Producers in Tennessee planted 275,000 acres in 2014, and it is reported that 170,000 acres were planted in 2015. We are hopeful that cotton will rebound in Tennessee and the Mid-South.

We will still conduct trials and evaluate all of the new cotton varieties and products that will be coming to the market. There are a lot of varieties with new technologies that will be valuable to our cotton producers. I am very proud of the fact that the Agricenter gets to work with a lot of these companies. We hope the data that are provided will help the companies make useful decisions and help producers make good decisions for their farming operations as well.

Spring Prep And Planting
We got off to a good start preparing our fields for planting. We were able to run a chisel plow through the research field this spring to help break up the traffic pan. Our soil at the Agricenter is prone to developing a traffic pan about 6 to 8 inches deep. Preplant fertilizer had been applied, and all of our hipped ground for cotton was ready to plant by mid-April.

We generally try to plant our cotton by May 10. The 2015 cotton trial was planted on May 6, quite a bit earlier than we were able to plant in 2014, and the cotton was harvested on Oct. 9. We received 1.1 inch of rain just a few days after planting.

During the growing season, we received 21.64 inches of rainfall. DD60s averaged 20.6 heat units for the month of June, 23 for July, and 18 heat units for August. We accumulated 2,635 heat units total for the 2015 cotton-growing season.

In-Season Applications
Our cotton variety trials were managed for optimum yields and quality. The variety trials were conducted on a Falaya silt loam with pH of 6.6 and organic matter content of 1.2 percent. We applied Cotoran plus Dual Magnum preemergence and came back with two over-the-top applications of glyphosate. We also came in with a post-direct rig at layby.

At about 60 percent open bolls, we went with a half rate of a defoliant and 8 ounces of a plant growth regulator. This seemed to work extremely well. We knocked some of the top leaves off, which allowed more air to circulate under the crop. Ten days later, we applied a full shot of Folex, followed by a full shot of PGR. By the time we harvested in October, most of the leaves were off, and most of the top bolls were open.

Do Your Homework
As I have said before, there are an awful lot of good cotton varieties on the market, and it seems that every year we test very good experimental lines. When gathering your data, look at other trials that have been conducted in your area, and, if possible, multi-year data as well. The Agricenter represents just one location, and the data presented here corresponds to the growing conditions that we had this year on that particular location with the cotton planted on a certain date.

Consult your university variety trials and local county variety trials, as well as data from the seed companies. Be sure to attend local grower meetings. Gather this information prior to making your variety decisions for next year. It may be a good idea to choose your varieties now for planting in 2016.
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 that you had a good year and wish you much success in the upcoming season.

By Bruce Kirksey
By Bruce Kirksey

Bruce Kirksey, Ph.D., is director of research for the 1,000-acre Agricenter International in Memphis, Tenn. The Agricenter works with industry, universities and other organizations to provide a professional forum for testing, evaluation, education and marketing of the latest scientific advances, including crop genetics and chemistries, production technologies and new crop assessments. Contact Kirksey at 901-757-7754 or

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