From variety selection to plant growth regulators to skip-row planting trials, the Sunbelt Ag Expo research farm is a primary location for University of Georgia cotton research and Extension educational efforts.
Jeremy Kichler is the UGA Extension coordinator in Colquitt County where the Sunbelt Ag Expo Darrell Williams Research Farm is located. He and members of the UGA Cotton Team annually conduct several research trials here.
He provides an overview of what participants at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day July 24 can expect to see from the cotton team.
“Of course, variety selection is a big part of what we are doing, and with continued commercialization of new varieties each year, we plan to make sure producers in Georgia and throughout the Southeast have unbiased, research-based information to make the most informed decisions possible,” Kichler says.
One project at the Expo farm in 2017 revisited skip-row cotton planting. He and Dr. Jared Whitaker, UGA Extension cotton agronomist, evaluated two varieties in several skip-row patterns. Their research indicates the most-profitable and highest-yielding row configurations in that trial were for the traditionally planted cotton, and not the skip-row patterns.
“This year, we plan to examine additional varieties in a traditional solid planting and in a 2 x 1 skip-row configuration,” Kichler says. “This skip-row pattern was the only one that produced similar yields in any of the trials that were conducted in 2017. We hope that the research in 2018 will confirm the results we observed in 2017, and allow us to more adequately respond to grower questions about revisiting skip-row plantings.”
Georgia cotton producers use plant growth regulators as much or more than producers in other parts of the country. Research at the Expo farm is used to help make recommendations on proper PGR decisions based on which varieties a farmer grows.
“We’ve seen that not all varieties are created equal with regard to PGR needs,” he says. “Specifically, we see that some varieties need much more intensive PGR management than others that may need no PGR applications at all. Our research here at the Expo will be extremely beneficial to producers when making PGR decisions on new varieties for which they have little experience.”
Cotton defoliation and harvest timing can also significantly impact overall yields and cotton fiber quality, Kichler says, and each year different weather patterns in the fall can have an impact on those decisions. At the Expo farm this season, the UGA Cotton Team plans trials to test decision-making tools used in defoliation and harvest timing.
“The Sunbelt Expo is a tremendous asset to us at UGA, as well as to producers across the state,” Kichler says. “The research conducted here has a direct impact on producer decisions, and helps make Georgia cotton what it is.”