A Roller Coaster Of A Season For Some

David Wright, Florida
David Wright,

Harvest season is especially busy and stressful for farmers as they often have two or more crops to gather in an eight- to 10-week period. There is also the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes that delay and reduce harvest and shorter days in November, which result in less harvest time.

Cotton yields have generally been good with many fields having excellent yield potential. About 50 percent of our cotton was planted late due to weather. It is being defoliated with higher defoliant rates because of cooler temperatures.

As fields are harvested, soil sample for nematodes and fertility, paying particular attention to areas that had problem spots. An accurate diagnosis can help keep the problem from spreading and increase future yields. wright@ufl.edu

Darrin Dodds, Mississippi
Darrin Dodds,

A large portion of our crop was ready for harvest during late September, but untimely rains kept pickers out of the field. Ten days of rain in September hurt a portion of the Mississippi crop; however, outstanding yields are coming in from a number of areas. Pickers were running wide open by Oct. 1, and many of our gins opened at about the same time.

A portion of our crop was planted late, but temperatures remained at or above 90 degrees for the first 10 days of October, which helped mature our later crop. Weather permitting, Mississippi growers appear set to harvest an above-average to tremendous crop in 2018.

A big post-harvest consideration should be soil sampling and soil fertility. Many of our crops have produced high yields not only in 2018 but also over the previous five years. Soil fertility is much like gasoline or diesel in your vehicle or equipment — you go a long way with it but nowhere without it.

Be sure to properly address fertility and pH needs and account for nutrient removal when soil sampling and determining a proper fertility/lime program. The best soil fertility program can be negated by low pH and a poor root system. dmd76@pss.msstate.edu

Tyson Raper, Tennessee
Tyson Raper,

The 2018 season has been a roller coaster. In late July, we were about two weeks ahead on heat units with what appeared to be a record-breaking crop. Unfortunately, drought hit many areas in August, and several sequential days of rain fell in late September.

These two events moved our otherwise record-breaking crop back into a more “average” year. Fortunately, very little additional rain has fallen between those September rains and today (Oct. 10), but that is forecast to change.

Our main harvest issue has been regrowth. The hard cutout experienced by the crop during August prevented it from using all applied resources. Scattered rains in early September kick-started regrowth, and the additional moisture in late September allowed the crop to take off.

No combination has worked extremely well to remove re-growth. The best option has been nozzle selection, which results in better coverage, and using a minimum of 15 GPA in each application. Fortunately, cooler temperatures should halt additional regrowth and ease management as we move into the first part of November. traper@utk.edu

Calvin Meeks, Missouri
Calvin Meeks,

As I write this on Sept. 30, the cotton crop in Missouri is rolling along with nearly 30 percent of the crop harvested. Overall, the yield potential of the 2018 crop is good and predicted at 1,230 pounds per acre, which would best 2017. The weather has been warm with 75-plus F degree nights, allowing for good defoliation conditions. However, it looks like cooler weather is on the way with some rainfall forecast.

Yields seem to be lower than expected in areas that received higher late rainfall, and fields didn’t pick as clean. A weathered cotton crop tends to decline in harvest efficiency. While the rush to beat the weather is on, keep an eye out for worn and out-of-adjustment doffers to decrease picker wrap and help pick as clean as possible.

Harvest will be wrapping up soon, and it will be time to start planning for next year. Results from the Missouri official variety trials will be posted soon at http://agebb.missouri.edu/cotton/. All but two of the small-plot trials were harvested at the time of this writing. Following harvest, pulling soil samples would be advised to get an accurate handle on soil fertility needs for the 2019 crop. meeksc@missouri.edu

Seth Byrd, Oklahoma
Seth Byrd,

Cotton harvest ramped up through October, although cool weather and excessive rainfall were prevalent on the majority of the cotton acres during the early and middle part of the month. By the time this issue of Cotton Farming reaches you, hopefully the weather has cleared up and harvest operations are back in full swing.

Compared to recent years, it’s been a much more challenging beginning and end of the season for Oklahoma cotton. A hot and dry start resulted in delayed emergence or slow early season growth. This resulted in a significant number of acres that could have used a couple more weeks of warm, sunny weather to open bolls.

However, favorable conditions were present throughout the middle of the season, and yield projections were high entering harvest. As I write this in early October, no classing reports for Oklahoma cotton are available, so it will be interesting to see what effect some of the late-season challenges have on the quality of the crop. seth.byrd@okstate.edu

Bill Robertson, Arkansas
Bill Robertson,

Cotton harvest as projected by the National Agricultural Statistics Service was approximately half completed into the second week of October. At this point, we are on track to achieve the most current NASS yield projection of 1,150 pounds per harvested acre for the state of Arkansas. There are still a great number of challenges we must be prepared to address as this crop season comes to an end. We all look forward to seeing how 2018 wraps up.

Most farmers are well into planning for 2019. Soil samples for fertility as well as nematodes will be pulled in great numbers after harvest and stalk destruction are complete. Get cover crops on your radar if they are not part of your current plan. Look to the University of Arkansas Variety Testing website for county and official variety trial results. The new address is https://arkansas-variety-testing.uark.edu/.

County production meetings are being scheduled at this time. Contact your local county Extension agent for dates and locations near you. brobertson@uaex.edu

Murilo Maeda
Murilo Maeda
Texas A&M

Cotton harvest has begun in some parts of the Texas High Plains as of Oct. 1. Due to lack of adequate moisture early on and a rough start to the season, there is a wide range of cotton in the fields. Some is ready to harvest, some is just defoliated, and some is running a little behind.

Harvest activities have come to a halt due to widespread rainfall in the region during the first week of October. Rain totals ranged from 0.5 to more than 6 inches. Remnants of Hurricane Sergio are expected to bring additional, widespread rain from 1 to 3 inches to the region, further delaying harvest.

High elevations in the Texas Panhandle may get their first hard freeze by the time this issue reaches you, while the Southern High Plains will be flirting with a first freeze as well.

Unfavorable weather is likely to delay harvest and impact fiber quality — to what extent remains to be seen.

We continue to keep everyone in the Southeast in our thoughts and prayers as they deal with the impacts of Hurricane Michael. mmaeda@ag.tamu.edu

Galon Morgan, Texas
Galon Morgan,

The El Niño pattern continues across most of Texas and is causing harvest delays and decreasing cotton fiber quality at varying degrees. The Upper Gulf Coast and Brazos Bottom regions probably average about 40 percent of the crop remaining in the field and already having endured a month of rainfall. Much of this area has received more than 20 inches of rain since cotton harvest began.

This is the third year in a row with a similar devastating harvest season.

For classed cotton at Corpus Christi, the overall quality has been good, but the detrimental impact of weathering is starting to work its way into the system. Most of the drought-stressed Blacklands was harvested early and showed low yields. Fortunately, the fiber quality was more stable than expected under the extreme drought conditions.

Northeast Texas has faced challenges as well. Harvesting the dryland cotton crop in the Rolling Plains is going slow due to intermittent rainfall. Irrigated cotton growers were hoping for more heat-unit accumulation this fall to finish some of the late bolls, but cloudy weather and cooler temperatures are not helping the crop progress very quickly. gdmorgan@tamu.edu

Dan Fromme, Louisiana
Dan Fromme,

As we approach mid-October, approximately 50-60 percent of the cotton acres have been harvested. This year, Louisiana will harvest about 180,000 acres of cotton. Good to excellent yields are being reported on 60-70 percent of the acres. Lint yields of more than 1,500 pounds per acre are not uncommon in some areas of the state.

Fiber quality for the 2018 crop is looking good. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Marketing Service figures as of Oct. 4 out of Rayville, only 18.5 percent of the bales received have produced a micronaire value of 5.0 or greater. This year’s length, strength and uniformity are averaging 1.18, 31.7 and 81.9, respectively.

Following harvest, concentrate on soil fertility needs for the 2019 crop. Basically, soil tests serve two functions. They indicate nutrient levels in the soil and where to start in developing a fertilizer/lime program. A sound program can be prescribed by combining this information, cropping history and the overall soil productivity potential of the field.

Also, soil tests can be used on a regular basis to monitor the production system and measure trends and changes. These help to maintain the overall fertility program on the same level with other production inputs. dfromme@agcenter.lsu.edu

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