He says some of last year’s drip-irrigated fields showed burned leaves in July. “It got so hot some bolls cracked.”

He had all his 2012 irrigated acreage planted by late May and “almost all of it was up.” He was just beginning to plant dryland cotton and was not hopeful. “I have hope for this year’s irrigated crop,” he says, “but not much for dryland. It will have to keep raining all summer to make a dryland crop.”

He says he invested more money in dryland cotton early than he did last year. “With winter moisture I put on Treflan and planted. He planned to seed 27,800 seed per dryland acre. “I would plant less but RMA says we have to have one seed every 6 inches.”

Irrigated planting rate is 43,700 seed per acre. “I went up last year to 52, 000,” he says. “I had trouble planting but it was a bad idea. I should have cut back.” He planted FiberMax 2484 and 9170 on irrigated acres and FM 2011 GlyTol on dryland.

He’s not changing his fertility program—yet. “We applied a 40-60-0-50(S) pre-plant on irrigated acres,” he says. “But if we have no rain by June 20, we will not put more nitrogen through the drip systems. We did that last year—used a full fertilizer program—and wasted a lot of money.”

James altered his plant spacing slightly several years ago with drip and pivot irrigation. “I use a 30-inch/50-inch pattern. That gives each row equal access to moisture.”

His drip tape is spaced at 80-inch intervals. He plants cotton rows 30 inches apart and has a 50-inch middle. “We still have everything set on 40-inch centers,” he says, “but we scoop the planter bottom in about 5 inches on each side.”

He says each cotton plant has access to moisture from the drip tape. “It also helps with shading.”

He’s used this spacing for two years, 2010 and 2011. “We got 15 inches of rain in July of 2010,” he says. “And last year we got none. So we still have not had a good test of the system, but the theory is that we get better moisture distribution. We know that it helps with emergence in the drip fields, and we think it shades the rows faster.”

Pivots are also set up to deliver water between the rows on that same pattern.