Home » Specialists Speaking » 2019 Planning Season Takes Shape

2019 Planning Season Takes Shape

Bill Robertson, Arkansas

Bill Robertson,
Arkansas

Planting decisions for the 2019 season are taking shape. Cash margins for all commodities are tight and provide little room for mistakes. We must be smart to get the most out of our inputs. We need to watch our costs yet provide the necessary inputs to protect yield potential.

Variety selection for yield and quality is an important first step in establishing yield and quality potential. There are a number of tools available to assist in selecting new varieties. The primary source is the University Variety Testing program. Results from the Arkansas trials conducted by Dr. Fred Bourland may be found at https://arkansas-variety-testing.uark.edu/. County demonstrations are another good source of information and are included with this data set. It is also appropriate to evaluate variety performance trials from neighboring Mid-South states.

Other practices to protect yield potential include matching nutrient applications to the crop requirements, implementing integrated pest management tools to manage pests, and using programs like Pipe Planner that can represent real cost savings. Contact your county Extension agent for more information or to get assistance with improving efficiency and profitability. brobertson@uaex.edu

Bob Hutmacher

Bob Hutmacher
California

Last year at this time, we were dry in the San Joaquin Valley as well as our normally snow-covered mountains. But a wet, snowy February and March changed the whole water supply picture. This year, there still are winter months to come with the promise of rain and snow, but uncertain forecasts always bring the possibility of limited irrigation water supplies. Hopefully, weather patterns will shift for a more extended period with rain and snow, and the water supply situation will be decent.

With changes in annual and perennial cropping patterns, it may be useful to develop new ideas about where cotton fits into your production plans and allocated acreage. Irrigation water availability is a reason to try a range of cotton varieties that differ in growing season length.

Most of them can be managed to shorten the growing season by reductions or delays in irrigation, more aggressive plant growth regulator applications and other management efforts. But varieties and cotton types (non-Acala Upland, Acala, Pima) differ in how much you can shorten the growing season and how they will respond in terms of yield reductions and impact on fiber quality.

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Both Pima and Upland cotton remain good crop choices for maintaining relatively high yield potential even when grown under more saline or saline-sodic conditions. We would benefit from new evaluations that look at varietal differences in production under saline or sodic conditions. However, no studies with newer varieties have been conducted in California to look at cotton salinity responses in the past decade or more.

Growth restrictions are one of the most typical responses to moderate- to higher-accumulated salts in the soil. If you are planning to produce cotton in more heavily salinized or sodic ground, keep plant populations relatively high (60,000 plants per acre or more) since growth will be reduced. Evaluating variety differences in responses to salinity might warrant some strip tests as you plan your planting season.

Basic yield results of the University of California variety trials will be summarized in late January and be available on the UC cotton web site: http://cottoninfo.ucdavis.edu. When available, HVI fiber quality data tables and Fusarium race 4 disease susceptibility tables will be posted on this same website. rbhutmacher@ucdavis.edu

David Wright, Florida

David Wright,
Florida

Winter meetings are underway with cotton still in the field from wet a wet fall and record December rain in 2018. While this is not encouraging for most growers, warmer days make them start thinking about crops for the new year.

Cotton continues to be the best value for most farmers to rotate with peanuts. Good rotation often gives growers the biggest return, followed by irrigation in some years. Our research and now grower experience continue to show that the highest cotton yields can be made after winter grazing due to factors including doubling of cotton root growth compared to cover crops that are not grazed, recycled nutrients and other soil health indicators.

I encourage growers to split a field with winter grazing on half. The highest cotton yields often occur with 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre of nitrogen. This can make 3- to 4-bale cotton following winter grazing due to residual nitrate nitrogen from manure. wright@ufl.edu

Dan Fromme, Louisiana

Dan Fromme,
Louisiana

The 2019 Louisiana Agricultural Technology and Management Conference will be held Feb. 11-13 at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana. This annual event is sponsored by the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association.

On Feb. 11, the conference begins with a morning session on good cotton agronomics and decision-making. In the afternoon, auxin herbicide and bollworm resistance issues in cotton will be two key presentations.

On Feb. 12, presentations include soil fertility, weed control, irrigation, replanting decisions, cover crops, defoliation, economics, and cotton technical updates by industry. Also, breakout sessions pertaining to rice, sugarcane and soybeans are scheduled during the three-day conference.

This is a key event for professionals involved in the cotton industry throughout Louisiana and the Mid-South. If you have never attended, make plans to be there this year. Go to www.laca1.org for information on conference registration and lodging. dfromme@agcenter.lsu.edu

Darrin Dodds, Mississippi

Darrin Dodds,
Mississippi

The new year has started just like the past year ended…wet. Many fields still have ruts from harvest that will require a good deal of work to alleviate. Early indications are that cotton acres will increase in Mississippi in 2019. While many factors will influence cropping decisions over the coming months, 800,000 acres of cotton in Mississippi is not out of the realm of possibility.

The theme of many presentations this spring has been return on investment. Yields have been substantially higher over the past seven years compared to prior years, and the price of cotton is not bad. However, nearly all input costs are up, which necessitates spending money where you have a reasonably good chance of at least breaking even.

In other words, do not spend $20 per acre on a given input to make back only $15 per acre. We know that pigweeds and plant bugs will negatively impact yields and returns and warrant spending money to minimize their impact. However, there are a number of products in the marketplace that are not proven to provide a positive return on investment. Avoiding these types of products that show no benefits may result in increased profit and decreased heartburn at the end of the year. dmd76@pss.msstate.edu

Calvin Meeks, Missouri

Calvin Meeks,
Missouri

Missouri producers had a bumpy ride with the wet fall and a cool and wet start to winter, but record yields were a good Christmas present for the year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Cotton and Wool Outlook released Dec. 13 has the statewide average yield estimated at 1,275 pounds per acre, so there is a lot to be thankful for. Although our harvest conditions were not optimal, overall we had a favorable growing season with plenty of heat units. We hope the 2019 growing season will have more evenly spread rain and a drier fall.

Since now is crunch time to make variety decisions as well as decide how to fine-tune fertilizer and herbicide practices, I encourage you to visit my blog at mizzoucotton.wordpress.com. If you missed the Missouri Cotton Production and Outlook Conference at the Fisher Delta Research Center on Jan. 24, I encourage you to review the blog for the most up-to-date research data available for Missouri producers.

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Additional data on variety performance and seedling vigor are readily available with irrigation data coming soon. I also will add variety comparisons over multiple years to illustrate which ones have better yield stability. Consult this data to help make variety selections since the later-maturing varieties performed extremely well this year in the official variety trials.

I encourage restraint when making variety selections. Do not commit all of your acreage to later-maturing varieties in the event an early frost occurs. meeksc@missouri.edu

Keith Edmisten

Keith Edmisten

North Carolina

Some of you may not have realized that Dr. Alan York has retired after many years serving the cotton industry. We are proud to have Dr. Charlie Cahoon join the North Carolina State University Cotton Team as our new cotton and corn weed Extension specialist. He has hit the ground running with some excellent applied research.

You can meet Dr. Cahoon at county meetings if you have not already done so. For this month’s Specialist Speaking column, I want to share some words of wisdom from him.

“As seed orders are being placed, I ask you to consider your weed management for the coming year,” Cahoon says. “‘Start Clean, Stay Clean’ has been the consistent message from Extension weed specialists since the development of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth.

“The ‘Start Clean’ part of this mantra most often includes an early preplant burndown application of Roundup (glyphosate), 2,4-D and Valor (flumioxazin) followed by Gramoxone (paraquat) plus residual herbicide(s) at planting. Although there are only a few single active ingredients labeled pre-emergence at-planting for cotton, producers have some great tools at their disposal, especially if they consider a tankmix of two or more residual products.”

Auxin training will be held throughout February at various locations. This year, anyone who is making an auxin application has to complete auxin training. Farm workers will not be allowed to make applications based on your training. A link for auxin training can be found at the cotton portal cotton.ces.ncsu.edu. keith_edmisten@ncsu.edu

Seth Byrd, Oklahoma

Seth Byrd,
Oklahoma

As we move into February, the quality picture from the 2018 Oklahoma crop is becoming clearer. As I write this in mid-January, about half of the crop that was ginned in Oklahoma has been classed. Quality appears to be fairly good, although not overwhelmingly great, from the state perspective. However, there are some excellent quality examples out there from specific fields. The wet and cloudy fall didn’t seem to hurt the crop as much as we may have thought at the time.

Depending on what part of Oklahoma we’re in, surviving early season water stress, seedling vigor or managing the crop for earliness has been at the forefront of topics discussed recently. Contact your Extension office for information on the production meetings coming up in February and March. seth.byrd@okstate.edu

Tyson Raper, Tennessee

Tyson Raper,
Tennessee

The 2018 University of Tennessee Cotton Variety Trial results were released on our UT Crops blog at news.utcrops.com.

Similar to 2017, many different traits are represented in the top-performing group. Based on our observations from 2017 and 2018, I believe it is wise to not put all eggs in one basket.

Performance from year to year has varied with several of the 2018 top performers. I think we clearly have better options across all technology platforms now than we’ve had in the past; yield potential and fiber quality have continued to improve.

In other news, the 2019 Tennessee Cotton Focus is Feb. 15, starting at 8 a.m. at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center, 605 Airways Blvd., Jackson, Tennessee. We will again host a cotton specialist roundtable discussion featuring Bill Robertson, Darrin Dodds and Tyler Sandlin. Other topics will include insect, weed and disease control updates. Lunch will be provided. I hope to see you there! traper@utk.edu

Murilo Maeda

Murilo Maeda
Texas A&M

By early February, most of West Texas should be done with harvest. Considering the early difficulties our growers faced when trying to establish good stands — especially on dryland acres — as well as rain and snow during harvest, 2018 was definitely a challenging season.

The winter months provide a good opportunity to reflect on 2018 decisions and where there may be opportunities to improve. One such opportunity is variety selection. See the results from the replicated agronomic trials for the Southern and Northern High Plains, as well as for other regions of the state, at http://varietytesting.tamu.edu/cotton/.

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Soil sample your fields and plan for a fertilizer program that reflects both field needs and actual yield potential. Setting a realistic yield goal and fertilizing accordingly can make a big difference towards being profitable, especially with fertilizer prices trending higher for the coming season.

Anyone planning to use one of the auxin traits should be aware of the new requirements. AgriLife Extension will provide the mandatory auxin training at several locations across the state in the coming months. Check the schedule at your local Extension office. mmaeda@ag.tamu.edu

Galon Morgan, Texas

Galon Morgan,
Texas

By mid-January, most growers had the 2018 crop behind them despite difficult weather conditions during the season.

However, some farmers from the Upper Gulf Coast to the Rolling Plains still had a considerable amount of cotton on the stalk.

Despite the challenging 2018 season, I expect cotton acres will remain flat to up slightly in many of our cotton regions. One grower survey estimate has Texas planting 7.2 million in 2019, which would be down slightly, from 7.4 million acres in 2018.

The extremely wet fall and winter has thrown nearly all the cotton production regions behind on field work, fertilizer applications and weed management. Everyone will be time-pressed to get their crop in and off to a good start.

[adiinserter block=”2″]Historically, many of our regions have had adequate phosphorous and potassium levels; however, soil samples are indicating depleted P and K levels, especially with depth, and are likely limiting cotton yield potential. Growers need to soil test, which will allow them to prioritize their nutrient budgets and consider getting into a nutrient maintenance program.

Before selecting varieties and associated traits, growers need to view as much information as possible. They also should communicate with their neighbors about herbicide trait plans. Agreeing on the same herbicide traits, weed management and abiding by the herbicide label requirements will be much easier and less risk for all parties involved. Large- and small-plot variety performance results from Extension are available at cotton.tamu.edu. gdmorgan@tamu.edu

Hunter Frame

Hunter Frame
Virginia

As I write this in mid-January, there are still some cotton fields to be picked. As of now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected 2018 yield at 965 pounds lint per acre. I believe this is a good yield as we dealt with more than 40 inches of rain from May 1 to Oct. 31. And even more rain fell in November and December as we tried to get the crop out of the field.

Virginia was fortunate to miss the harshest part of two hurricanes, which hit other parts of the Southeast hard. Hopefully, Mother Nature will be kinder in 2019. Cotton acreage may increase again and to more than 100,000 acres. If this happens, we will need friendly fall weather as Virginia harvest infrastructure was already stretched with 97,000 acres in 2018 with wet conditions and limited days to harvest.

Moving into 2019, cotton producers’ first decision will be variety selection, which will be discussed at the Virginia Cotton Production Meeting. This event will be held Feb. 14 at the Paul D. Camp Workforce Development Center in Franklin.

We hope to see producers, consultants and Extension personnel there. Contact Wilmer Stoneman with Virginia Farm Bureau (804-290-1000) or Gail Milteer with the Virginia Department of Agriculture (757-562-0020) to RSVP for lunch. whframe@vt.edu