Sponsored By
Farm Progress

No-till cover crops protect young cotton from hailNo-till cover crops protect young cotton from hail

dense cover holds soil, retains moisture, shields cotton

Shelley E. Huguley

June 4, 2018

16 Slides

Parmer County grower Kelly Kettner, has been transitioning his soil management practices from conventional tillage to no-tillage since 2008. He says his interest in no-till began in college but he didn't begin to implement it seriously on his farm until the 2009/2010 season.

This year with the drought coupled with high winds and periodic rain showers, Kettner credits his cover crops for protecting his young cotton plants.

See, Drought conditions elevate value of no-till for Texas grower; emergence slow for South Plains crops

Knee-high rye saved his cotton during a recent hail storm. On one section, Kettner has two pivots next to each other. Both circles have a rye cover crop and both are planted to cotton. One of the circles has “excellent rye residue,” while the other rye field, due to delayed planting and lack of fall moisture, is kind of “light.” The excellent rye was up to Kettner’s knees, while the other, after he sprayed it, melted down, keeping the soil from blowing, but not what he would describe as “full cover.”

“The storm we had the other night had pea to marble-sized-hail, and I didn’t have to replant cotton on the field that had the real tall cover, but I did have to replant cotton on the one that didn’t, and that’s right across the turn-row.” Kettner says cotton survived a similar hail storm in 2003. “One year, I had cotton in some really tall rye stubble. There wasn’t a field of cotton within 10 miles of this field of that made it through the hail storm, but mine made it through and made like 2.5 bales to the acre.”

See, Sand-fighting annoyance turns Texas grower to no-till system

Kettner recommends growers interested in the no-till, cover crop system begin slowly, "to get a feel for it." He says learning from other no-till growers and attending meetings like the No-Till Conference held in Lubbock, Texas, and watching YouTube videos on the subject have helped him gain a better understanding.

About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions that have to be made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such a Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like