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Prime Conditions

This is the 4th cropping season that I have witnessed as an agent in Terrell County. We started the year trying to recover from Hurricane Michael and perhaps the wettest winter ever, but once we got some of our corn planted, we hit almost perfect planting conditions. Some areas have turned off slightly dry at times, but overall we have had enough scattered rains to get most of our dryland acreage to germinate, without excessive rainfall to prevent our equipment from getting into the fields. As a testament of this, I recently saw a small seeded cotton variety that germinated through 3 inches of soil. Historically we plant cotton seed one half to one inch deep in our area. This is because cotton is very aggressively growing plant once it comes out of the ground, but until it breaks through the soil surface, it is a wimp. What is so unusual about cotton germinating from 3 inches deep? As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the cotton seed of a cotton variety, the less vigor it has to germinate and get a good stand, particularly in adverse conditions. The larger the seed of a variety, the more energy the seed has stored within the seed, and the more vigor that young plant has to break through the soil surface. So why wouldn’t everyone plant larger seeded varieties to increase the odds of getting a stand? The smaller seeded varieties historically have been higher yielders. This potential caused most growers to take a gamble on getting a stand so that IF they get a good stand, their yield potential is much greater. However, in our heavy clay soils in parts of Terrell/Randolph/Calhoun Counties, this gamble has not always benefitted growers. The good news is, that this year, since we started planting cotton and peanuts, our soil temperatures have remained warm, we have had enough rain to have good moisture to plant into, and the soils have not been waterlogged to drown out seedlings. We are in prime planting weather for the first time I can remember. I would like to remind everyone that if something happens, whether it be your settings on your planter or a freak accident, don’t expect cotton to germinate from 3 inches deep every year.