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Cotton Planting – Optimal Conditions

Many growers are planting peanuts and some have started planting cotton. The weather has heated up and we have gotten very dry. With these conditions it is important to keep in mind the physiology of cotton. It has been said numerous times that if you plant a peanut seed in the middle of an asphalt parking lot it will come up. On the other hand we often plant cotton seed into tilled prepared soil and…..nothing. With all of the new cotton varieties out there you will see a major difference in seed size for many. Make sure you are paying attention to seeding rates. Optimal seeding rate is 2.5 seed per foot. This rate is expected to achieve a final plant stand of 1.75 plants per foot of row. Cotton seed cannot be planted too deep. If ideal environmental conditions are not present it will not emerge. When planting into good moisture a maximum depth of 1 inch is suitable. For dry conditions like we are encountering now, a half inch depth is more appropriate. Getting heavy rain after planting can also cause issues with crusting. To overcome crusting most farmers plant hill-drop. Dropping 2 seed in one hole helps increase the pushing power of the seed. To reach optimal seed per foot on hill-drop you plant 2 seed every 8 to 10 inches. Many growers have adapted these rates to meet their needs. Decreasing seeding rates saves money as long as the crop does not encounter emergence problems from adverse weather conditions.

Keep those tractors rolling and monitor the weather conditions to adjust your planting needs accordingly.

Though the recent warm weather has decreased our concern with thrips for the time being. When planting early season cotton in cooler weather the risk of thrips damage is great. There is a Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton that you can quickly use to help you make management decisions at planting for this pest.

Give your County Agent a call with any questions!