Once a poll is complete, we publish the results below.
June Poll Results
Readers Say Thrips May Be A Threat This Year
Each year as the cotton production season begins, consultants and farmers across the Belt begin scouting the fields for evidence of threatening insect pests. In June, we asked our readers which insect pest they anticipate being the most troublesome this year. After the votes were tallied, thrips led the pack with 54 percent, while spider mites came in at only two percent.
In the June Specialists Speaking department, Louisiana cotton specialist Dan Fromme noted, “Insect pressure from thrips has been heavy enough to warrant foliar insecticide applications.” Darrin Dodds, Mississippi cotton specialist, weighs in with these comments: “It almost goes without saying that thrips have developed another challenge that cotton farmers must face. Everyone is encouraged not to rely solely on seed treatments for thrips control. Be sure your fields are scouted, and thrips are treated when necessary.
“While thrips infestations do not typically result in yield losses, heavy thrips infestations can cause delayed maturity,” he adds. “We have been fortunate with weather during harvest season for the past several years. However, no one knows what the weather will do this fall. As such, do not let thrips get on your cotton and delay maturity, which may lead to bigger problems at the end of the year.”
In North Carolina, cotton specialist Guy Collins says, “Monitoring for plant bugs during squaring and taking quick action if thresholds are reached is important to avoid significant losses resulting from this insect pest.” In July, we are polling readers to see how they feel about excess spring rains in Texas and how they will affect cotton acreage in the long-term.
May Poll Results
Variety Selection Ranks No. 1 With Readers
From the first of the year through the beginning of May, Extension cotton specialists from all of the cotton-producing states across the country have discussed a variety of factors that help establish healthy seedlings that ultimately get the crop off to a good start.
In June, we asked our readers which practice they would rank first, based on their own experiences, in helping to establish healthy seedlings. After the votes were tallied, 62 percent said “variety choice” was their first pick. “Effective burndown” came in second with 19 percent of the votes.
In the February issue of Cotton Farming, Arkansas Extension cotton specialist Bill Robertson had the following to say about variety selection. “Variety selection is perhaps the most important decision a producer makes,” Robertson says. “Once planted, no amount of worry, work or money can make up for a poor decision. Our recommendation for planting is that roughly two-thirds of your acres be planted with varieties that are proven on your farm. Of the remaining acres, limit new varieties to no more than 10 percent of your total acreage. The remaining 25 percent should be dedicated to those varieties in which you have limited experience.”
Also in April, North Carolina Extension cotton specialist Guy Collins touches on the importance of achieving an effective burndown as he notes, “If rains subside and temperatures remain relatively warm, we should see some action in many fields, as it is important for burndown applications to be targeted toward smaller weeds, especially in the case of glyphosate-resistant horseweed.”
In July, we are jumping into the troublesome cotton insect pest arena. Join the discussion now by casting your vote and explaining your choice with a few short remarks in the Comments section.
April Poll Results
Cotton Planting Experiences Weather Delays
Late winter and early spring weather conditions are causing cotton producers in many areas of the Belt to adjust their cotton planting schedules to fit the situation and not the calendar.
A whopping 78 percent of respondents say they are experiencing delays, while 20 percent say the weather might actually result in an increase in their cotton acres.
Louisiana cotton specialist Dan Fromme notes in his comments this month, “Cotton producers have experienced abundant rainfall and wet soil conditions during the months of March and April. As of April 20, less than 2,000 acres were planted. Therefore, it looks like the 2015 cotton crop will be going in a little late.”
Tyson Raper, Tennessee’s cotton specialist says cotton producers in his state are experiencing much the same scenario. With this in mind, he shares a couple of tips to consider when planting a little later than expected.”
In Tennessee, early-mid or midmaturing varieties are generally only able to outperform early maturing varieties if they are planted within the April 20-May 10 window,” Raper says. “If planting after May 10, consider planting earlier maturing varieties. Well-drained, moist and warm seedbeds will support rapid seedling emergence and grow-off.”
In addition to insecticide seed treatments, consider protecting young seedlings from thrips damage with a one-to-two-leaf foliar spray,” he adds.
And since everyone has cotton planting on their minds, we are continuing that theme with the June Web Poll question, asking readers to choose which factor they would rank first in helping to establish healthy seedlings and get a good start to the season.
Join the discussion now by casting your vote and explaining your choice with a few short remarks in the Comments section.
Also be sure to like us on the Cotton Farming Facebook page!
March Poll Results
Rotating Crops Still Popular
Rotating other crops with cotton, where possible, has become a popular strategy with producers to potentially increase their cotton yields. In the most recent Web Poll, 80 percent of the respondents say they plan to utilize rotation crops as part of their production plan in 2015.
In the February issue of Cotton Farming, Florida cotton specialist David Wright, says, “Producers tend to be optimistic and are trying to figure out crop mixes to continue good rotations…. Our rotation data indicate that cotton behind peanuts or corn will typically produce 100 to 300 pounds per acre more lint than cotton behind cotton. In addition, peanuts after winter grazing will typically produce 200 pounds per acre more lint than cotton planted into cover crops without grazing or on bare soils.”
Louisiana cotton specialist Dan Fromme also gives a nod to the benefits of crop rotation: “Louisiana cotton producers were vigilant in preventing the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds throughout the state, and now is a good time of year to review key strategies going into the new season.
“To manage herbicide-resistant weeds and prevent development of resistance, weed scientists at the LSU AgCenter recommend the following practices,” he adds. “Use tillage, cultivation or other cultural practices such as crop rotation when possible.”
In many cases, producers who do not plan to rotate other crops with their cotton may not have this choice anyway because of soil type, equipment limitations or climatic conditions.
For example, Hunter Frame, Virginia’s cotton specialist, notes that although conversations are taking place on what to plant (soybeans, corn, cotton or peanuts), “In the cotton production area of Virginia, planting corn can be risky as coastal plain sandy soils with low waterholding capacities can severely limit corn yields in a drought.”
February Poll Results
Managing Data Boosts Profits
The agriculture industry has always depended on new technology to propel it forward into the next era of producing more with less. Today, advances in equipment and precision agriculture are changing the way farmers, consultants and agribusinesses view the land from which they reap their profits.
In December, Cotton Farming publishes a special section titled “Equipment and Ag Technology,” designed to coincide with the winter months when farmers are making their plans for the upcoming season. In the early days of precision ag, the emphasis was on how to collect data in the field. Then, as more data became available, another facet emerged: data management.
“Embrace the Evolution,” from the most recent “Equipment and Ag Technology” section, features two companies that help farmers actually use the available data to lower fertilizer costs, chemical application costs, labor costs; increase yields and much more.
Following is an excerpt from “Embrace the Evolution.”
“Services, such as AccuField, that help producers manage all of the valuable data that is collected through precision ag technology also are becoming more and more popular. Letting the experts help decipher this information can provide a hefty boost to your bottom line.
“Other companies like BB Hobbs, Inc. focus on precision irrigation and agronomic needs. Specific crops and soil types must be considered to put together the most efficient and profitable program for producers.
“The ultimate goal of precision agriculture technology and equipment is to help producers get the most out of every acre.” And, getting the most out of every acre of your operation translates to realizing the highest return on your investment, while sustaining resources in a responsible manner.
With that in mind, be sure to keep precision ag in your plans for 2015.
January Poll Results
When asked how important it is to understand the parameters of what global mills want in the area of fiber quality, the vast majority of the January Web Poll respondents said, “Very important.”
In the “What Customers Want” column that appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cotton Farming, Jim Lambert, Director of Sales with FCStone Merchant Services in Nashville, Tenn., shared feedback he received from China – one of U.S. cotton’s largest customers.
“Having spent the last two months interviewing FCStone’s textile mill and cotton merchant client base in China, I can tell you the most common feedback I have heard is ‘can you help us secure high quality cotton on a consistent basis? Our clients need higher count yarns, and we can’t make any money in the low count world,'” Lambert reports.
“The unfolding China story will have a huge and profound impact on the U.S. cotton industry – producer of the highest quality cotton in the world,” he adds. “This is a phenomenal opportunity to match consistent high quality production with consumption based on direct and firsthand feedback from the world’s largest consumer of cotton.”
In addition to Lambert’s remarks on important parameters as noted by FCStone’s Chinese client base, following are a couple of comments submitted by Web Poll respondents:
The reputation of the U.S. cotton industry is at stake without a good understanding of the customers’ needs. This is always a basic principle of customer service.”
I don’t think it matters a whole lot since our cotton quality is mostly determined by the weather it experiences. I think the focus should be on how to sustain a profitable market instead of loan rate cotton.”
December Poll Results
New Farm Bill Meetings
The Agricultural Act of 2014 – the new Farm Bill – is a completely different animal than the Farm Bills that cotton producers have had to work with in the past. Everyone who has had a chance to study it describes the bill as “complicated.
In an attempt to help producers make the best decisions for their individual situations, universities, the National Cotton Council (NCC) and other entities conducted workshops to help explain the new provisions. Attendance was good, and the presentations were well prepared to address the many questions that arise regarding different farm scenarios across the Belt.
For example, one of the most frequently asked questions was: How does the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) fit with a producer’s existing insurance policy?
According to Mark Lange, NCC president and chief executive officer, “STAX is available in 2015 for upland cotton. At the producer’s choice, it may be purchased standalone or in combination with an underlying crop insurance product. STAX indemnities are triggered over a range of 90 to 70 percent of county revenue.
“STAX indemnities are triggered when county revenue falls below 90 percent of expected county revenue and continue to trigger until county revenue reaches 70 percent of expected county revenue, he adds. “At that point, STAX indemnities have reached their maximum. The ‘stacked’ concept envisions that producers have underlying coverage that will cover the deeper losses in individual revenue or yield.
Based on the December Web Poll results, the majority of respondents who attended one of the Farm Bill sessions found the meeting helpful (58 percent), while others are still struggling to work through all of the intricacies that the new bill involves.
November Poll Results
October 2014 Poll Results