Fine-tuning Plans For The 2023 Season


camp hand
Camp Hand,

One year ago, in Cotton Farming magazine, each cotton specialist across the belt discussed fine-tuning plans for the 2022 season. Many of us were singing the high input cost blues. Inputs were high, but the cotton price was almost $1 per pound one year ago. The 2023 season stands to be unique in that inputs are still high, but the December 2023 price for cotton is just north of $0.80 as I write this on Jan. 6. So, I’m sure most of us at this point will be singing the blues in this year’s section as well — I hope not actually singing, just figuratively. 

Reducing input costs is going to be on the top of everyone’s list this year in terms of planning for the 2023 season. A major thing to consider is that timeliness is key. This applies to all aspects of production. Be timely in planting, weed management, insect management, disease management, fertility, growth management, irrigation, defoliation and harvest. 

Make sure these things are done on time and in a manner that it doesn’t have to be redone. This could be a delayed pest management spray that requires a “clean up” application, which would include the cost of more chemical and fuel to conduct. Let’s try to avoid spending money where we don’t have to — I think being timely in production is a major key in doing that. 

By the time this is published, we’ll still be doing production meetings (schedule available at Come see us while we’re doing our annual road show. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone and hopefully sharing information that will positively impact your operation. As always, your UGA county Extension agent and specialists are here to help! Reach out if you have any questions. 

ALABAMA Steve M. Brown

STEVE BROWN, alabama
Steve M. Brown,

Change happens. In every sphere of life… with family and community, markets and policies; with equipment, labor, tools, technologies, varieties, pests and products. Sooner or later, every segment of life and production is affected by change.

How do you deal with change? In response to various changes, what changes do you make? What do you adopt… or not? How do you adapt and adjust? What practices do you alter? What change do you resist and rather than embrace, take a wait-and-see approach? 

The winter months typically allow limited field activity but time for meetings, planning and thinking; time to consider and possibly initiate needed change. Not change for change’s sake, but decisions and new steps to improve production and life.

MISSISSIPPI | Brian Pieralisi

brian pieralisi
Brian Pieralisi,

Mississippi cotton production in 2022 didn’t set any records; however, it was still a good year for most producers across the state. Dry fall weather allowed for an efficient harvest, giving growers time for field preparation for 2023. 

Input costs are a primary concern for growers planning to grow cotton. According to, cotton production costs are projected at near $1,300 per acre in a high-input system and approximately $900 per acre in a lower-input, dryland, non-irrigated system. Given current market prices and seed revenue, each system would require about 1,300 lbs. and 900 lbs. of lint per acre, respectively, to be in the black in terms of profitability. 

After three years of testing three-gene Bt varieties, there’s promise for achieving these yield goals and remaining profitable. Mississippi 2022 cotton variety performance data can be found at 

The next question to be answered in Mississippi is how many acres of cotton will be sown? It’s a good question because many of the fundamentals point toward a decline in acreage; however, after talking to growers, I don’t think there’ll be a massive drop in acreage — just remaining relatively flat. In 2022, Mississippi harvested 525,000 acres of cotton, and I expect 2023 to be above 500,000 acres.

Finally, as planting season nears and crop mix decisions are made, it’s important to secure a couple of varieties that will perform well for a particular region or environment. I expect 2023 to be like the past with some variability in performance due to the environment. A mix of a few well-placed varieties will allow growers to hedge against whatever Mother Nature is planning.

LOUISIANA | Matt Foster

matt foster
Matt Foster,

The 2023 Louisiana Agricultural Technology and Management Conference will be held Feb. 8-10 at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana. The Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association sponsors this annual event. 

On Feb. 9, afternoon session topics include cotton growth management, ThryvOn cotton and technical updates from industry. On Feb. 10, morning session topics include insect, weed and disease control in cotton, 60-inch row spacing and technical updates from industry. 

This is a great event for anyone involved in the cotton industry to attend. I’ve attended this event for over a decade, and I’ve always walked away with valuable and applicable information. For more information, please go to

TEXAS | Ben McKnight

ben mcknight
Ben McKnight,
Texas A&M

As I write this the first week of January, drought conditions have eased across the more southerly cotton production regions in Texas. The Lower Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend regions have received decent precipitation amounts over the fall and early winter months. A few more rainfall events prior to planting would be icing on the cake for growers in these regions. 

Other production regions across the state are still experiencing dry conditions coming out of 2022. The Blackland Prairie, Rolling Plains, High Plains, Winter Garden and South Rolling Plains didn’t catch enough rainfall over the past few months to break extended drought conditions experienced in these regions.

Going into last year, fertilizer prices were on everybody’s radar. It doesn’t appear there’s been much relief in prices going into the 2023 growing season, but there are some things growers can do to avoid spending unnecessary dollars on fertilizer inputs. 

If you’ve attended a grower meeting that I’ve presented at this winter, you’ve heard me say that soil testing is perhaps one of the most consistent expenditures that returns value to our growing operations. Prior to making a management decision, I try to gather as much information as possible that will assist me in arriving to my decision. Being active with soil testing on your farm can give you a tremendous amount of information prior to planning a plant nutrient management program going into the 2023 growing season. 

Additionally, sampling deeper in the soil profile to 18 or 24 inches may reveal that you have quite a bit more plant nutrients available to credit toward yield goals than a shallower sample would reveal. The long taproot of a cotton plant has the ability to access plant nutrients at these depths — so long as there are no root-limiting factors present like soil compaction. Get in touch with your local county agent, or visit if you would like to learn more about submitting samples or sampling methods. 

ARKANSAS |Bill Robertson

Bill Robertson, University of Arkansas
Bill Robertson,

This will be my last opportunity to make comments here representing the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It’s truly humbling to visit with producers that comment how much they enjoy reading our comments every month. 

While some things in life are in a constant state of change, some things in farming are always hanging over our heads. Cash margins are nearly always tight, leaving little room for mistakes. There are many things out of our control, so we must be smart to get the most out of what we can control to establish and maintain yield and quality potential.  

Variety selection for yield and quality is an important first step in establishing our potential. There are a number of resources available to assist in selecting new varieties. A useful tool is the University Variety Testing Program. Results from the Arkansas Trials conducted by Dr. Fred Bourland may be found at County demonstrations are another good source of information and are included in this report. It’s also appropriate to evaluate variety performance trials from neighboring states in the Mid-South. 

Varieties with extreme growth potential, paired with high plant populations and excessive nitrogen, are recipes to make life difficult for both producers and consultants. Avoiding problems is much simpler and often more profitable than trying to fix issues we create.

Other practices to protect yield and quality potential include matching nutrient applications to the crop requirements, utilizing IPM tools to manage pests, fine-tuning irrigation scheduling and using tools like Pipe Planner that can increase efficiency. 

Following end-of-season termination guidelines, coupled with variety selection to help ensure we can get a picker in the field by mid-September, is another important consideration. This will help us to hold onto the yield and quality we’ve worked hard to build all season long while meeting our harvest completion goal of Nov. 1. 

Contact your local county Extension agent to obtain information or to get assistance in improving efficiency and profitability.

MISSOURI Bradley Wilson

Bradley Wilson

A new year has come upon us, and while we may still be reeling from the effects of the 2022 cotton growing season, it’s time to turn our attention to the 2023 season that will be quickly approaching. The cotton Extension production meeting will be held at the Fisher Delta Research and Extension Center on Feb. 9, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Several speakers will be in attendance to provide research updates and production challenges that may be faced in 2023. 

As the topic for these comments is “fine-tuning for 2023,” we look ahead at what we need to be doing in the next few months to gear up for the upcoming season. Choosing cotton varieties may be the first step in the plan as selection can be important for desired yield and fiber quality potential. The 2022 cotton small plot OVTs and large plot on-farm county trials can be utilized as a resource for variety selection in 2023. This data can be found at under cotton variety testing. 

Fertilizer input prices are also on the minds of cotton growers for 2023. The first option that comes to mind is examining soil test nutrient levels prior to planting. That will allow us to make informed management decisions regarding nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium applications in 2023. In closing, we need to sit down and pencil out our plans for cotton management in 2023. If we can help you plan for the 2023 season, please feel free to reach out.

TENNESSEE | Tyson Raper

Tyson Raper, Tennessee
Tyson Raper,

Although the 2022 Mid-South cotton crop generally left a pleasant taste in the mouth, price outlook for the crop in early 2023 has turned the taste to slightly bitter. Over the past few years, you’ve read several excellent input-saving strategies outlined by my colleagues in this very column; in my opinion, 2023 looks like a great opportunity to test those out.

All of these should be applied relative to your personal experience, but generally speaking, we can still likely reduce seeding rate, lower applied-nitrogen rate and be slightly more aggressive (mainly earlier) with PGRs. These cost savings multiply and begin with plants per acre; recall we only need two plants per row foot in the upper Mid-South. Furthermore, we need to make sure we are not pushing the N rate. Selecting a higher-than-needed seeding rate and over applying N will delay maturity, increase PGR needs and decrease your bottom line.  

For those near Jackson, join us for our annual Cotton Focus event on Feb. 8, or check our blog in the coming weeks for additional information on each of these inputs.

NORTH CAROLINA| Keith Edmisten

Keith Edmisten
Keith Edmisten,
North Carolina

Variety selection is certainly a major part of fine-tuning plans for the coming season. The cotton OVT yield data and large plot variety data is available on our portal ( The OVT fiber quality data will be uploaded there once the analysis is completed. The data is also available on our variety selection tool ( 

It’s important to look at balanced data when using the variety selection tool. Balanced means all the varieties are included at all the locations. Due to a glitch in the program, you’ll only get balanced data if you don’t select the large plot Washington – Enlist only and the Stanly – Xtendflex-only locations. In general, early maturing varieties didn’t perform as well in 2022 as they did in 2021 due to more drought stress. Selecting varieties with varying maturity can help manage risk.

Growers who really want to fine-tune their cotton production need to think hard about the inputs they are using. Are you getting any value from some of them? This is especially important for inputs that haven’t been tested by unbiased sources. For example, if you’re applying a foliar application, are you applying enough actual fertilizer to increase yields enough to pay for the fuel you’re using to apply the product? The best way to determine if inputs are valuable is to apply them in strips in a field or two. Otherwise, you’ll likely not have any idea if they’re profitable.

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