It appears that cotton acres planted this spring will be up -- significantly up from last year -- says Rex Friesen, Crop Consultant and Public Relations director for the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Cooperative.
Planting has not yet occurred because of cool, wet spring conditions, Friesen said, but planting intentions put acreage up 50% over last year.
But when will planting be? The decision is more about conditions than calendar date, Friesen said. What producers need is warm weather, good moisture, but no big rain on the horizon.
"One of my biggest concerns is if the forecast temperature "lows" drop into the low 50s or 40s, that's not good for germination. On May 4, I checked the soil temperature in the field across from the Winfield gin -- 42 degrees at 1 inch at 8:10 a.m. On May 5, at 1 inch it was 46 degrees at 8:00 a.m. If seed were in the ground today, I would be a little concerned."
The forecasted rain for the May 7-8 weekend arrived as predicted and even though there are a couple of clear, warm days in the forecast for the next week, chances of rain are prominent in the 10-day forecast.
Friesen reminded cotton producers that day #3in the ground is a "no-chill" day for cotton seeds, as germination is initiated about then and is very sensitive to low temperatures. Stands will suffer for it if it chills that day and producers should gauge a planting date accordingly if at all possible.
For now, while the rains fall and the nighttime temperatures stay in the 50s, the most important consideration producers have is how to effectively apply burndown herbicide.
With another week of almost daily rain in the forecast, those producers who haven’t burned down in preparation for planting will be challenged in the effort to follow the best rule of "start clean, keep it clean," Friesen said.
On another herbicide front the comment period for the new Dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans has been extended to May 31.
"If you feel strongly either way, let the EPA know what you think," Friesen advised.
He said that his read of the comments seems to separate most comments into one of two camps: either "Monsanto is the Devil" or "I need this product to survive."
"Some writers make the case a lot better than others," he said.
If you want to make your case here's a link:
The outlook for insects
Friesen said the mild winter, could well mean a lot higher threat from insect pests this season.
"If my windshield is any indication of bug activity, I'd have to agree to the possibility although most of the "splats" seem to be ladybugs and bees," he said.
Combining increased insect activity with the timing of the wheat finishing up in the next few weeks (maturing wheat and other grasses are where a lot of the thrips comes from), there is the possibility of seed treatments not being able to hold back thrips to tolerable levels, Friesen warned.
"Be watching your young seedlings for signs of thrips presence on the cotyledon leaves (usually the underside) and in the growth point. They look like dirty, yellow-brown or black "slivers", depending on the species. Treatment thresholds will vary by who you talk to, but generally, if you see one or more of them consistently on plants you inspect, especially when you have 2 true leaves or less (remember, the two cotyledon leaves count as "0", then true leaves 1, 2, etc., follow), you may need to treat over-the-top, even if you had your seed treated. Thresholds are often an average of 1 thrips per true leaf; e.g., cotyledon-1 true leaf = 1 thrips/plant average; 2 true leaves = 2 thrips, etc. If you consistently see several thrips per small plant, move quickly to treat--timely treatment is very important, as their feeding leads to mal-formed, curled up leaves and terminals, and delayed development. Regarding thrips damage, cool, damp weather is "bad", warm dry weather is "good"--a vigorously growing plant can grow out of light-moderate feeding damage. (Grammatical Note: "Thrips" is both singular and plural form--it's an entomologist thing).
Cotton producers -- or those who are thinking of becoming cotton producers can contact Friesen for more information or advice on the coming season.
He can be reached in the office at 620-221-1370, on his mobile at 620-222-4818 or by email at [email protected]