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Serving: KS
close up of cotton
EXPANDING ACRES: The Kansas cotton industry is preparing for continuing growth as the crop continues to flourish in the southern half of the state. Now is a good time to start preparing for those planning to grow the crop for the first time.

Thinking about cotton? Here’s what you need to know

Warmer days are on the way, and with them comes time for planting.

It’s been a long and brutal winter for most of Kansas, but March is almost over and that means it’s time to pay attention to a couple of important deadlines with regard to spring planting season.

For those who grow cotton — or are thinking of growing cotton in the coming year — April 1 is the deadline to sign up for the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Marketing Pool.

Signing up does not obligate you to grow cotton, but it does obligate you to market through PCCA.

“I recommend that those new to cotton sign in the marketing pool for the first year anyway, just to learn the ropes before they try to go it alone,” says Rex Friesen, consultant and public relations manager with Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Association.

Those who have had cotton before but have since had changes in land ownership, partnership and so forth also need to let PCCA know. You will need to provide: your email address; names of all payees and percentage for splits; the county the field is in; your tax ID number; your address; your phone number; FSA farm number(s); the common name of your field; and the acres of dryland or irrigated production.

“We’d also like to know if its your first time for cotton and if not, how you marketed before,” Friesen says.

Ready to plant

It may seem a little early to even be thinking about planting the 2019 crop when some of the 2018 cotton is still in the field waiting to dry out enough to strip. But the reality is, there’s a plentiful moisture profile in the fields, and once warmer days (and nights) come on the scene — and yes, there’s a warm-up in store, the weather folks say — things are going to happen in a hurry.

First and foremost, you can bet on quick weed germination and rapid growth. The first trip to the potential cotton field, or any other one for that matter, should be to kill what’s out there. Get down a residual herbicide that will prevent the weeds that are lying in wait from springing up.

“Tank mixes of pre-emerge and residual herbicides are strongly recommended,” Friesen says. “You also need to watch pre-plant intervals on whatever pre-emerge you use.”

Intervals are 45 days for Sharpen; 21 days for Valor; 30 days for “traditional” 2,4-D; 21 days for Banvel (traditional dicamba) at 8 ounces per acre; and 14 days for Caparol and Diuron.

You can apply Paraquat, Liberty and Aim right up to the time of emergence and Cotoran through early emergency, Friesen says.

Planting dates are whenever the weather will allow it starting in early May and continuing into the first days of June, he advises.

Once the cotton is up, opportunities for “over the top” herbicides are much more limited.

“My strongest advice is read the labels before you use any herbicide and make sure you have all the information about application,” Friesen says. “Labels do change from year to year and it is important to follow directions carefully.”

Additional information on cotton herbicides can be found on manufacturers’ websites.

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