Maybe the West Tennessee cotton crop finally has its head above water.
Planting season, says University of Tennessee cotton specialist Tyson Raper, posed significant challenges with persistent rain.
Raper discussed cotton crop conditions recently at the annual weed tour at the West Tennessee Agricultural Research and Education Center in Jackson.
In an interview in early May, Raper said producers were having a hard time getting the crop planted. Rain would run producers out of the field until the weather would clear and they could get planters running again. He said planting capacity now available allows growers to catch up in a hurry.
“I think we had a good chunk of our acreage planted in late May and that would’ve been right after we visited,” Raper said. “I think close to the majority of our acreage was planted after May 20. So, it’s still a decent planting window.
“We still have quite a bit of yield potential with those planting dates, but it was a little later than we would have preferred. It’s pretty good. It’s really starting to grow now.
“Most of the crop,” Raper said, is now on time. “But we are coming off of an interesting week. Brownsville serves as maybe the heart or hub of most of our cotton production. We had a low last week (June 9-15) of 49 in Brownsville, so it was quite an interesting week of relatively cool temperatures. We didn’t see a lot of growth last week. Things really slowed down.
“But temperatures are much warmer this week. Cotton is really starting to grow now.”
He said thrips pressure was light early. “But they kind of hit with vengeance in June, especially on some of that later planted cotton. Now, we’re starting to get some calls on plant bugs, and we are starting to apply Pix.”
Cool Temperature Setback
Cotton has been set back a bit from last week’s cold spell. “It’s been slow to grow with the low temperatures. Last week we also had a little more herbicide injury than we would like. We apply herbicides and we get that injury, and if it’s not growing, it sits there for a little bit longer than we would prefer. Now that we’re into these warmer temperatures, I think we’re going to see cotton take off. It is definitely looking much better than it did last Monday.”
Raper says planted acreage is less than expected. A lot of acres near the Mississippi River flooded and could not be planted.
“We’re likely off because of the lost river acreage and with some of the issues we had with planting. We had some stand issues. I think we’re probably going to be a little bit off planting expectations, probably even off what we had last year. I still don’t have a hard number on acreage, but it’s not as much as we had initially planned for.”
He’s hopeful for a good season.
Asked if the season was now set up to make a good crop, he said, “I hope so. Yes sir. We need it.”