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At 2020 Beltwide: Potassium drives cotton yields

Ron Smith, Editor

September 19, 2019

3 Min Read
Katie Lewis, Texas A&M soil fertility specialist, discusses multi-state potassium survey at the 2019 Louisiana Agricultural Technology and Management Conference. Lewis will discuss that survey at the 2020 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in January. Ron Smith

Potassium plays a vital role in cotton yields across the Cotton Belt, Virginia to California. But application rates, timing and methods vary as much as the farmers, climates and soil types represented across this coast-to-coast production zone.

That’s why Hank Jones and his program committee picked potassium as a featured topic at the Cotton Consultants’ Conference during the 2020 National Cotton Council’s Beltwide Cotton Conferences, to be held in Austin, Texas, Jan. 8-10.

“Dr. Katie Lewis, soil fertility specialist, Texas A&M, will discuss a multi-state survey of potassium use,” says Jones, an independent crop consultant from Winnsboro, La., and chairman of the Crop Consultants’ Conference, the opening segment of the Beltwide Conferences.

Jones says Lewis presented her survey findings last winter at the Louisiana Agricultural Technology and Management Conference. “We thought it was information that appeals to cotton growers across the Belt,” he said in a recent interview with Farm Press.

“Potash is driving your yields,” Jones says. “The multi-state survey is a good study, applicable to people from across the Cotton Belt.”

He adds that finding a topic that appeals to that wide an audience is not easy. “This survey provides information about the best methods and the best rates to apply potash. It applies to cotton farmers from Virginia to the West Coast.”

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He points out that a key finding in Lewis’ study shows that potassium application is not a “one-size-fits-all” prospect.

“Research across several states shows application and rate differences, depending on location. Lewis found no one way that’s best all across the Belt.”

Other topics

Jones says as chairman of the Consultants’ Conference, he and his committee look to find topics that will interest other consultants, farmers and other audience members. Other presentations on tap include:

A panel of entomologists from across the Belt will discuss insect management issues, including bollworm resistance to Bt cotton. “We probably will get an update on the Vip gene,” Jones says.

Plant pathologists from around the Belt will discuss nematodes, seedling diseases, and foliar diseases. Jones expects a lot of attention on the new cotton leaf roll dwarf virus. “We expect this presentation to be well attended.  We are certainly seeing a lot of interest in this issue.”

Speakers from Texas and Mississippi will discuss the status of aquifers in those states. “They are seeing depletion in aquifers and will discuss how depletion is affecting agriculture in those locations.”

“We’ve also asked representatives from Deltapine, Stoneville, PhytoGen and NexGen to give us a snapshot of what they are doing in their breeding programs. What criteria do they use to bring forth a variety, how long does it take? We typically get to see a finished product at the farm trial stage or just before that. A lot more than that goes into developing new varieties. Breeders are looking at more than just yield. The companies were happy to discuss their programs.”

Jones says Richard Keigwin Jr., director, EPA Pesticide Programs, will explain the product registration and reregistration process. “The ag industry is always up against reregistration of products,” Jones says. The process may be even more confusing with new products. “We want to learn what’s the process in EPA. What do they have to check off on their final list?”

He says more information about the process will give consultants and others better ideas about questions to ask during the critical registration and reregistration procedures. He thinks the information will be particularly valuable to consultants and others out of academia and regulatory circles.

Finally, Don Parker, National Cotton Council IPM manager, will offer an update on regulatory issues, and Bill Norman, vice president, technical services, will talk about new NCC sustainability projects.

“We always try to pick topics pertinent to the crowd,” Jones says.

For more information about the 2020 Beltwide Cotton Conferences see:

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith

Editor, Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

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