2023 Planting Progress Report

GEORGIA | Camp Hand

camp hand
Camp Hand,

As I write this May 5, planters are starting to roll in Georgia. Although we are getting started, we are a little behind as it has been relatively cool for the end of April and first week of May here. However, with temperatures expected to rise in the coming days, I imagine there will be many folks that are fixing to start getting after it. 

Typically, by the first week in June, we are over 80% planted, and I hope that by the time you are reading this, we will be in the same boat. For those that have yet to plant, or are replanting at this point, keep in mind that our major limiting factor to getting a stand at this point is soil moisture. In 2022, we planted some cotton on June 1, and it was so hot and dry that, even though the field was irrigated, we “cooked” the seed we planted. If you are planting dryland fields, plant into good moisture, but if you are planting irrigated fields, plant into good moisture and be as timely as possible with irrigation if necessary. 

© Cassidy Nemec/Cotton Farming magazine

Last reminder: as all of you are aware, cotton prices are unfortunately not what they were a year ago. At planting and early in the season, I see a lot of products used in cotton that have not been proven to provide any increase in lint yield or preservation of yield from problematic pests. Therefore, I wouldn’t use these products that have not demonstrated a consistent return on investment. Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying new things on a limited basis. 

If you decide to try a new product that is supposed to mitigate stress, increase nutrient uptake/efficiency or even increase seedling vigor, I would do a few passes in the field and leave a nontreated section to evaluate if it benefited your crop or not. Now, if you aren’t that adventurous and want to be a little more confident in your inputs prior to trying something new, myself and other members of the UGA cotton team test a number of products every year. We try to generate data to help you all make sound decisions that will almost certainly provide a return on investment for your crop, and that data is always available through your local UGA county Extension agent. 

With that, if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local UGA county Extension agent. Them, along with your UGA specialists, are here to help! camphand@uga.edu 

MISSISSIPPI | Brian Pieralisi

brian pieralisi
Brian Pieralisi,

In Mississippi, planting conditions were better in late February and March than they are currently — as I write this May 5. Warm weather dominated our region throughout most of March and into April; however, cool, wet weather moved in as May 1 quickly approached. I was suspicious of a late cool spell. In Mississippi, it’s always a good idea to anticipate one more cool snap in late April or early May.

Cotton plantings are forecast to be about 400,000 acres this year, which is down about 24% from 2022.  Some acres were sown in southern Mississippi during the last week of April. The first week of May produced several consecutive nights with temperatures dipping well into the 40s in most locations.  Despite the nighttime temperatures, most cotton growers were planting during this window. Currently, there are rain chances for the next seven to 10 days, so I am sure these growers are glad their seed is in the ground. In terms of progress at this point, I would estimate that Mississippi is less than or equal to 25% planted. bkp4@msstate.edu

TEXAS | Ben McKnight

ben mcknight
Ben McKnight,
Texas A&M

As I write this in early May, approximately 20% of the 2023 cotton acres have been planted statewide in Texas. Comparing planting progress thus far to the past five years in the first week of May, Texas cotton acres are currently 3% ahead of schedule according to the USDA-NASS Texas crop progress report. Many of the areas that are currently planted in southern Texas and the eastern half of the state have received generous amounts of rainfall over the past month. According to the drought monitor map, the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Coastal Bend, Upper Gulf Coast and much of the Blackland Prairie growing regions are currently not considered to be in drought conditions. 

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, much of the crop is squaring and attention has focused towards scouting for fleahoppers in an effort to be timely with insecticide applications and prevent economic losses from these pests. Further north in the Coastal Bend growing region, the growth stage of the crop is a mixed bag ranging from seedling cotton to pinhead square. Cotton that was planting into adequate soil moisture got off to an early start, and recent rainfall has helped the crop progress nicely. 

Cotton is up and growing across much of the Upper Gulf Coast, and recent rainfall has helped recharge soil moisture for the first half of the growing season within much of the region except for a few isolated pockets directly along the coast. In the Blackland Prairie growing region, cotton planted in the past two weeks has emerged and some plantings are still occurring within the region following recent rainfall. 

Much of the state west of Interstate 35 is still listed as being in moderate to exceptional drought conditions. As we get closer to planting time across the Rolling Plains, West Central Texas and the High Plains, more rainfall is greatly needed to replenish soil moisture going into the 2023 growing season. bmcknight@tamu.edu

MISSOURI | Bradley Wilson

Bradley Wilson, Missouri

Cotton producers began planting cotton mid-April, but planted acres were minimal due to unfavorable environmental conditions in late April. Beginning May 1, a short window was provided for planting before a forecasted rainfall at the end of the week. Planters and sprayers continued to run until late in the evening before the expected rainfall. 

Cotton acreage is likely 25% to 40% planted across the state. Rainfall chances continue to be expected in early to mid-May, which may slow planting progress in areas that receive greater rainfall amounts. Temperatures forecasted for the next few weeks are optimal for cotton planting, so we will continue planting if fields remain dry enough. brwilson@missouri.edu

TENNESSEE | Tyson Raper

Tyson Raper, Tennessee
Tyson Raper,

Tennessee’s April started warmer than normal but finished cold. The last few April and first few May nights provided lows in the 40s. As I write this May 3, only a few producers in Tennessee have put any cotton in the ground. Fortunately, it looks like the next front coming May 5 brings warmer weather.

We can plant a tremendous number of acres in a good day and if this forecast holds, I suspect by the end of next week, we will possibly have 25% or better of our cotton acres planted. This number would be much larger if it wasn’t for the chances of scattered thunderstorms in the forecast throughout the next two weeks.

Overall, the state seems to have increased the acreage of soybeans (particularly early soybeans) to an unprecedented level, corn acres seem to be flat and cotton acres will likely fall below 250,000. traper@utk.edu

ALABAMA | Steve M. Brown

STEVE BROWN, alabama
Steve M. Brown,

In the old days, meaning prior to the introduction of Roundup Ready cotton, effective weed control required a multi-pronged approach, including preplant tillage, PPI, PRE and POST herbicides and mechanical cultivation. PRE treatments typically included Cotoran (fluometuron), alone or in combination, at rates well beyond those used today and that often flirted with crop injury. PRE activity hinged on TIMELY rainfall or irrigation, and apart from that, results were disappointing. 

Early POST applications ideally involved precisely directed applications delivered with spray fender cultivators when cotton was three to five inches tall and followed up with a second post-directed application and cultivation two to three weeks later. TIMELINESS was critical with these post treatments because few products effectively controlled key weeds exceeding two to three inches in height. Some post over-the top treatments were rescue alternatives but reserved as salvage treatments because of the accompanying crop injury. The season was often completed with a layby treatment and maybe a final cultivation.

Introduced in 1997 in RR cotton, over-the-top Roundup (glyphosate) applications revolutionized weed management. They minimized the use of PPI and PRE herbicides, relieved the associated cotton injury and eliminated the need for precision post-directed applications and repeated cultivations. Roundup was indeed a “silver bullet” … for a few years.

It didn’t last. Roundup still controls some important weeds, but shifts to resistant, dominant weeds such as Palmer amaranth have compelled a return to “multi-pronged” systems in which residual herbicides are layered in at intervals and post treatments are made in a “TIMELY” manner. 

TIMELINESS still counts. There is no substitute for making post applications when weeds are small and actively growing. A half-inch to one-inch pigweed is hard to see from a pickup, but in a few days it could be three to five inches and on the edge of escape. Post treatments made a few days late usually yield poor results. Whether the post application includes glyphosate, Liberty (glufosinate), dicamba or 2,4-D alone or in combination, weed size profoundly influences herbicide efficacy. Some suggest that TIMING is more important than rate. Maybe, but since that initial post application is so critical, make it count! Be on TIME. cottonbrown@auburn.edu

LOUISIANA | Matt Foster

matt foster
Matt Foster,

Cotton planting in Louisiana is moving along at a steady pace. As I write this May 5, approximately 35% to 45% of the crop has been planted. Emergence and growth have been slow mainly due to cooler-than-usual temperatures. Some planting operations will cease this week as substantial rainfall is predicted for most cotton-producing areas in the state. Overall, the crop is looking good so far. 

In Louisiana, cotton is generally planted mid-April to mid-May. Hopefully, the majority of our cotton crop this year will be planted during the optimal planting window. Research has shown that cotton planted late May to early June can see up to a 25% reduction in lint yield. With substantial rainfall in the forecast, some of the 2023 cotton crop may be planted later. For late-planted cotton, growers may need to fine tune their management practices for insect control, nitrogen fertilization and plant growth regulator (PGR) in order to avoid a delayed harvest. Thrips damage and excess nitrogen can delay maturity. Late-planted cotton often grows more vigorously compared to an early planted crop, so a timelier PGR approach is often needed. mfoster@agcenter.lsu.edu

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