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What I learned on the UT Cotton Tour

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Entomologist Scott Stewart welcomes attendees to the UT Cotton tour on September 1.
ThryvOn, prices and an abundance of varieties were just some of the topics of the UT Cotton Tour.

The University of Tennessee held their annual Cotton Tour on September 1 at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson.

I love ag field days and can remember high points of tours from 30 years ago. The evolution of the industry in that time has been amazing.

And, we're still moving forward. This year's Cotton Tour highlighted a number of things to look out for.

Here are five things I found interesting:

ThryvOn - Bayer's TryvOn technology – the one that was supposed to target plant bugs – works great combating thrip damage in cotton. I have heard this before, but to see results from independent researchers is really quite notable. The technology won't be available commercially until sometime in mid to late 2022.

Prices - Cotton prices are projected to stay fairly bullish as we move into the new crop. With everything the pandemic has wrought, commodity prices are one of the things that have fared well and maybe even thrived during this time. It is a reiteration of the fact that what farmers do is important – a necessity, even in troubled times.

Varieties - There are an abundance of good cotton varieties that work for the Midsouth. When seed companies were merging or selling out, many growers worried that the number of varieties would dwindle and the selection would be very limited. As the dust of restructuring has settled it appears that competition for seed is strong.  Growers have a pretty good selection to choose from – yields and quality are still improving.

Army worm - UT entomologist Scott Stewart’s first words when the wagon pulled up were, “We won’t be talking about army worm.” Everyone laughed. As I write this, the second wave of the pest has passed in west Tennessee. When I spoke with Sandy Steckel, she said that the real damage from the pest was in Bermuda grass and if there was any damage in cotton or soybean it was at the edge of fields where grass existed. “It’s what they like,” she said. A third wave is possible if we have an extended warm period into the fall. But, we’ll worry about that when it happens.

Dr. Shekoova - Avat Shekoofa is really excited about her work in drought resistant cotton and irrigation optimization. When I spoke to her several years ago, she was passionate about her research, but I wondered how she could sustain the enthusiasm in an environment where water is so abundant it is often a problem. She has made it work and is seeing some pretty interesting results, which I believe should prompt growers to take a closer look at how irrigation is managed here in the Midsouth.

The reason I love this stuff is because I see continued hope in our ag industry. We continue to strive for the best. Thanks UT and other ag research institutions for that hope.

TAGS: Education
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