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Replant Decisions: Cotton in South Georgia

Farming is filled with many stressful decisions. Some are a shot in the dark and some are a little more evident, given careful deliberation of the situation. However, replanting any crop in South Georgia is never an easy pill to swallow, nor is it easy to determine if it is definitely warranted. Among the most stressful to determine is cotton.

Cotton is such a resilient crop, but many of our varieties planted in this region are smaller seeded, and struggle to get a good stand in some of our heavier soil profiles. This is an example of one of those cases. We recently had some hot, dry weather, and it was followed by some cool mornings with moisture, then back to some more heat and drought. This led to very sporadic emergence of cotton in our area. Cotton is tough once it gets up, but many times it is weak as a kitten coming out of the ground. In the picture above, you can clearly see that the middle row only has one cotton plant that has emerged.

Many factors have to be considered when pondering whether or not a field needs to be replanted. No seeds that I have found are free. Labor, fuel, and pesticide costs all must be considered as well. Also to be considered is if the whole field is affected. If it is not, consider that replanting portions of a field can make management decisions such as herbicide applications, pest management, defoliation, and harvest timing very convoluted. All of these must be weighed very carefully before choosing to replant. However one fact that is sometimes overlooked is timing. A lower plant population may do better that was planted on time than a full plant population that was planted too late in the season. I don’t have the magic eight ball with all the answers to replant decisions, but I would air on the side of caution and try to consider ALL the facts before plowing up an investment to try again. That being said, there are definitely times when it is critical to replant. When that instance occurs, I would recommend planting entire sections of a field, or a minimum of full passes through the field so that they can be managed separately from the original plant population.