Sunday, May 19, 2024

2022 Harvest Update

NORTH CAROLINA |Keith Edmisten

Keith Edmisten

Growers should be checking fields for boll maturity to get an idea of which fields can be defoliated first. The easiest way to get a good start scheduling fields for defoliation is to check for nodes above cracked boll (NACB). Just like scouting for insects, you should get a random sample of the field as some areas may be more or less mature than others. Generally, it is safe to defoliate when NACB is four or less. 

To measure NACB, you find plants with a boll cracked open enough to see some lint and count the nodes from there to the highest harvestable boll. It is a good idea to check further by cutting some of the youngest harvestable bolls to make sure that the seed is developed and that the seed coat is turning brown. 

On skippy stands, you need to consider not only the top portion of the crop, but also look at younger bolls down in the canopy on outer positions and vegetative branches. Starting defoliation on time can get the pickers in the field to take advantage of longer days to shorten the harvest period and minimize losses.

TENNESSEE | Tyson Raper

Tyson Raper, Tennessee

As I write this Sept. 10, only a handful of acres have received a harvest aid application. Our earliest planted acres will likely see applications next week as the forecast moves into what appears to be a warm, dry window. Temperatures in September have been milder than average, but we all hope the warming trend holds through October.

August made clear that the yield potential of our later planted dryland acres far exceeds that of our earliest planted dryland acres, but just how good those late-planted acres will be hinges upon our length of season. Most canopies are full of juvenile growth, and some already have basal regrowth. Thidiazuron will be our product of choice until nighttime temperatures slip out of the 60s due to its effectiveness on this type of growth.

Because of our season, I don’t expect much control of regrowth — even at high rates. Timing the picker behind the sprayer is going to be very important this year until temperatures fall into the 50s. I’ll be updating recommendations as we move through September and into October, so check periodically for that information.

GEORGIA | Camp Hand

camp hand

As I write this Sept. 9, we are currently in a weather pattern in Georgia no one wants to be in if you are in agriculture. Overcast, extremely humid and rainy almost every day. We have even had some flooding in the past week in the northern part of the state. My hope is that we exit this weather pattern sooner rather than later so we can really get going on some of this cotton. 

Historically, by the first week of October, Georgia growers have harvested approximately 13% of their crop according to the USDA Crop Progress Report. As I’ve mentioned in my previous Specialists Speaking comments, our 2022 crop is ahead of schedule in my opinion, so I hope we are at or above that number by the time you are reading this. I know of a few fields in South Georgia that have been defoliated in the first week of September, so it is only a matter of time before we get started. 

As we approach defoliation and harvest, one thing I have been mentioning is that we have too much money tied up in this crop. Many growers tell me it is the most money they have ever spent growing a cotton crop. Let’s be timely with defoliation and harvest, get the crop out of the field and on the gin yard and get our growers paid. 

As always, your local UGA county Extension agent and specialists are here to help! Reach out if you have any questions. 

FLORIDA | David Wright

David Wright, Florida

Timely harvest keeps quality and yield of cotton. October is generally the driest month of the year, and the number of daylight hours are limited as growers try to finish harvest. Tropical storms and hurricanes can ruin the crop if you are harvesting other crops while cotton should be harvesting.

Cotton, peanut and soybean will generally finish up in October aside from late-planted crops harvested in November. It is very critical to take advantage of good harvest days since November is cooler and takes longer for the dew to dry off. Harvest capacity for all crops should be sufficient for maximum quality and yield.

Defoliating cotton under cool conditions later in the fall is different than defoliating in September and early October. Rates of harvest aids should increase to expect the same kind of results as you received earlier in the season. Most cotton should be picked by late October. The number of harvestable acres decreases rapidly due to short days and cooler temperatures, which also results in a longer time to dry out after rains.

Many growers plant cover crops after harvest/stalk mowing. Fields can be leveled with a harrow if ruts were formed in the growing season or at harvest. If fields are to be grazed, cover crops should be planted as soon as possible following harvest to expect early grazing. If all operations are done using no-till, and cotton is to be planted again the next year, precision placement of rows can make a difference in yield the following year. By moving rows from the previous year’s row to the row middles, yields can be increased by 25% to 35%.  Nematodes can also survive on cotton roots and grow until mid-December if this is not done.

Timeliness is critical for each operation to make the best quality and yield.

ALABAMA | Steve M. Brown

STEVE BROWN, alabama

Early in September, it’s difficult to accurately predict what kind of crop we’ll gin. Past years have demonstrated that September and October, which rank among our driest periods according to long-term data, can steal our crop because of inclement weather. Late August was not kind to many because of extended cloudy days, frequent showers and subsequent hard lock and boll rot. In early September, we experienced a few days of sunshine and then more cloudy weather and scattered rainfall. So much for weather averages.

Harvest is often a time of RUSH. Hurry up; get ‘er done! Let’s pick this crop. I’m all for that, but it must include attention to safety, especially on the road as equipment moves from field to field. 

In that regard, I climbed in a pickup with a farmer this summer to look at stand problems and quickly realized I shared the front seat with a rifle and a shotgun. I assumed the firearms were for hog control, but when asked, the farmer let me know he stuck one out the window when impatient motorists blew the horn behind his crew as they moved equipment along the back roads and highways. I assumed he was kidding.

In recent months, I’ve followed minutes behind two collisions involving 18-wheelers and farm equipment. The first occurred in June at the end of planting. On a wide, four-lane highway with a significant grassy median and perfect visibility, a big tractor-trailer truck clipped a planter. The planter was damaged but nothing more, and, thankfully, no one was hurt.

A second event occurred in August on the same highway a few miles north of the earlier accident. An 18-wheeler with a flatbed trailer carrying copper collided squarely with a large John Deere sprayer. The truck front hit both back tires/legs of the sprayer and totaled truck and sprayer, but the truck looked considerably worse. After I weaved around debris on the highway, I encountered multiple law enforcement and emergency vehicles headed to the site. I heard later no one was seriously injured, which was rather remarkable given the severity of damage. 

Farm equipment and vehicle collisions usually end much worse for the farmer. Be safe.

MISSISSIPPI | Brian Pieralisi

brian pieralisi

As I write this Sept. 9, we are toeing the line between defoliation and harvest. Some harvest aids were applied this week, but most growers are waiting until next week (Sept. 12). Scattered showers and thunderstorms compromised these applications in some areas, forcing most growers to wait on better conditions.   

This year’s crop is earlier than the past few years, and we will have pickers in the field by Sept. 15.  Cotton harvest in Mississippi should be in full swing by the third week in September. Weather from now through October is critical to the success of the 2022 crop. This year’s crop has experienced tough environmental conditions from the start, and it’s only gotten progressively worse since last month.  

Late August rains comprised every acre of Mississippi cotton to some degree. A slow-moving weather system brought torrential rainfall and flash flooding to central and southern Mississippi, including the black prairie and the south Delta regions. The degree of damage was directly related to the level of rainfall, which resulted in back-water flooding and prolonged wet conditions. Most every field has a level of boll rot and hard-locked bolls low in the canopy. Depending on the maturity of the crop, most of the damage is slight to moderate.  

Cotton that was not opening had minimal damage, but some fields were cracking on the bottom five to eight nodes, which is concerning. Back-water flooding from rivers and creeks, including the Pearl River, submerged field crops in Mississippi for over a week, resulting in far greater damage to the crops. North and central Mississippi received much less rainfall, but the prolonged wet, foggy conditions contributed to boll rot; however, the level of damage was much less severe compared to areas south of Highway 82.

Despite the weather, we are moving forward with a favorable forecast aligning with the onset of cotton harvest ’22. Hopefully, this forecast will remain true, and we can put this year’s crop in the record books. Good luck!

ARKANSAS |Bill Robertson

Bill Robertson, University of Arkansas

We are quickly approaching the finish line with this cotton crop.  The hot dry summer moved cotton toward cutout faster than some wanted to see. Rainfall and a break in temperatures the end of July and into August gave our crop second wind. Moving into September, the plants were very active and will need an almost-perfect September for a good finish.

The Crop Production report for Arkansas released in September by USDA-NASS estimated cotton production at 1.6 million bales, 365,000 bales above last year. Based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yield is expected to average 1,219 lbs. per harvested acre, down 29 lbs. from 2021. Planted acreage is revised to 640,000 acres, up 140,000 acres from June 2022. 

If the current yield projection stands, it will rank as our second highest yield on record. Our five-year lint yield average is 1,184 lbs. per harvested acre. Lint yields the last three years have been our best three on record. 

As mid-September rolled around, we were just getting our defoliation underway. Heat unit accumulation appears to be following a more normal trend and generally fades fast in October. 

The 2022 crop is likely our most expensive we’ve ever produced. We’ve seen a great number of challenges thrown at us, and there are still challenges we must be prepared to address as the season comes to an end. Get cover crops on your radar if they are not part of your current plan. We all look forward to seeing how this season wraps up as we make plans for 2023.

TEXAS | Murilo Maeda

Murilo Maeda

As discussed in past issues of Cotton Farming, we’ve seen large abandonment this year due to the lack of adequate moisture during most of the fall and winter through planting. The last official FSA certified acre numbers came out Aug. 22 and really illustrate the brutal reality in West Texas (1N and 1S regions) this year. According to that report, West Texas growers seeded 4.56 million acres of cotton in 2022, of which 60% were dryland and 40% were irrigated. 

Overall, FSA noted in their report a total of 1.88 million and 628 thousand acres (dryland and irrigated, respectively) failed across the region. This represents 55% of our total certified planted acres. While there is some good cotton in the region, there are also dryland acres in poor condition still standing that may (or may not) end up being harvested.
However, ither way we look at it, it is safe to say production from West Texas will be severely impacted this year. 

For some good news — as I write this in early September — we have recently seen widespread rains in West Texas. A bit too late to make a big difference on overall production, yes, but this will help us finish most of the crop we have in the field while providing a much-needed break for irrigation wells that have been running around the clock since planting. Most of the region received about as much, if not more, rain in the past 15 days or so than what we had seen from January through the end of June this year. For reference, we officially recorded 4.9 inches of rain in Lubbock during that period. While you are very unlikely to see anyone around here complaining about rain, excessive moisture this late in the season can create issues with plant regrowth and challenging defoliation conditions. This is something we will be keeping a close eye on. 

Our updated 2022 harvest aid guide is available on the website. As we progress into the late season, we’ll be looking for some warm, open weather to help us finish this crop. Hopefully, conditions will also be favorable for an efficient harvest season. As it is customary this time of year, we start seeing an uptick in farm machinery moving around. Please remain patient, and stay safe out there. 

LOUISIANA | Matt Foster

matt foster

Cotton defoliation began in some areas of the state during the latter part of August. Only around 1% of the crop has been harvested as of Sept. 9. The Louisiana cotton crop faced hot and dry conditions for most of the growing season but was plagued with excessive rainfall during the month of August. 

Preliminary seed counts per lock are averaging lower than usual, most likely due to stress from the hot and dry conditions. Wet and cloudy conditions have delayed defoliation and harvest operations in most areas of the state. Fields that had open bolls were most susceptible to damage from the rainfall. I’ve seen some fields with substantial target spot, boll rot, sprouting and hardlock. Regrowth has been a tremendous problem and is making defoliation more challenging. What was once a promising cotton crop is slowly going downhill. 

About 75% of this year’s crop is in the fair-to-good range with state yields estimated to average around 800 to 875 lbs. of lint per acre. However, only time will tell. Most growers that I’ve spoken with were optimistic about their crop prior to the excessive rainfall but now have a different outlook. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate, and we can get this crop out of the field.

ARIZONA | Randy Norton

Randy Norton

As we enter the 2022 harvest season, I am optimistic about yield potential of this year’s crop. Far southwest Arizona has already harvested some of their crop, and early indications are for yields slightly above average. Our first UArizona cotton variety trial ranged from just under three bales per acre to right at four bales per acre. The result from this early harvested trial continues to show the importance of proper variety selection. With a difference of slightly over 500 pounds of lint per acre, proper variety selection is demonstrated again to be crucial to optimum return.

Many growers will plant several different varieties on their farm each year to spread their risk. Keeping detailed records of variety performance on your own farm will provide valuable information for the upcoming year. Harvest time is a busy time of year, but taking the time to accurately track variety performance will pay dividends in the end.

As we have surveyed farms across the state this fall, we continue to see problematic fields with populations of palmer amaranth that have escaped glyphosate applications and are likely resistant. Allowing these plants to produce seed and then running a harvester through the field will continue to spread the problem to additional areas. Now is the time to take note of problem areas and, if possible, remove existing pigweed plants from the field before going to seed and running a harvester through them. Adjusting production practices for the 2023 season is critical to prevent the further spread of these glyphosate resistant pigweed. Incorporating additional herbicide options besides glyphosate is necessary to control these populations.  

More detailed information regarding this topic and others related to late-season crop management can be found at the UArizona Extension website

TEXAS | Ben McKnight

ben mcknight

As I write this Sept. 8, cotton harvesting activity is winding down in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Recent rainfall has slowed things down a bit, but more than 90% of the acreage in this region has currently been harvested. Upon completion of harvesting, growers have been diligent with stalk destruction practices to render any remaining cotton plant material non-hostable to the boll weevil. Cotton stalk destruction efforts of growers in South Texas, along with the efforts of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, are the Cotton Belt’s first line of defense against the proliferation of these pests. 

Harvesting activity in the Coastal Bend has wrapped up for the year, and stalk destruction efforts are running smoothly ahead of the Sept. 15 stalk destruction deadline for this region. Yield reports in the Coastal Bend have been below average compared to previous years, and growers are hoping to get some much-needed rainfall heading into the 2023 growing season. The Upper Gulf Coast is also winding down the 2022 harvest and should be completed by the time you read this in October.

Recent rainfall in the Blackland Prairie has slowed progress with getting the bulk of the region’s cotton crop out of the field. Some fields that were defoliated prior to the rainfall will most likely need an additional harvest-aid application prior to harvesting as regrowth following the initial application has been problematic in some instances.

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