Study And Plan

 Dr. Tyson B. Raper, Cotton & Small Grains Specialist, University of Tennessee discusses how 
 cotton production consists of a continuous stream of decisions and recommends 
 that farmers review the errors and successes of previous years on their own farms. 

 Photo by John M. LaRose Jr.

Use Winter Months To Review Trial Results

MidAmerica Farmer Grower

   Applying the right inputs into a cotton production system is very, very important, according to Dr. Tyson B. Raper, Cotton & Small Grains Specialist, University of Tennessee.
   “Cotton production consists of a continuous stream of decisions on whether or not to make applications, which products to apply, and application timings,” he said. “The landscape has changed in recent years due to the onset of new diseases, shifts in pest populations, and adjustments to nutrient requirements; however, the basics of profitable management have not changed.”
   He recommends that farmers review the errors and successes of previous years on their own farms and in their area, study the variety trials to select the right varieties for their fields, learn the recommendations from field trials evaluating plant growth regulators, and pay attention to fungicide and fertility recommendations.
   “It’s becoming more difficult to make a bad decision,” he said, with all the information readily available today. “There are very good varieties in each of the platforms recommended by the states throughout the mid-south.”
   A lot of attention was paid in 2016 to target spot in cotton crops. Nitrogen rate, plant growth regulator and fungicide applications all play a role in combating target spot.
   In many cases, more isn’t necessarily better. Plants measuring 42-45 inches tall didn’t show any differences in yield.
   “However, if you know you have a history of target spot, then you need to apply that fungicide application,” Raper said.
   He cited a trial on cover crops that were used on an eroded hillside. NRCS supports the cover crops program through cost sharing. In the trial, the cover was not allowed to reach full height. Soil moisture sensors were placed throughout the hillside and during the following period the sensors showed an increase in water content. The cover crops even helped rainfall to soak into the soil surface.
   Raper joined at the end of a several year kitchen sink project, where up to 50 percent more of all inputs were applied to cotton.
   “We drastically increased our cost per acre,” he explained. “However, none of these increases significantly increased our yields.”
   The take-home message is simple: Study and plan for the coming season.
   To watch full presentation from the 2018 NCSCRC Conference go to our website (coming in March of 2018). ∆
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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