With the 2012 cotton planting season just around the corner producers should take time to make certain that planting  equipment and procedures are  in place, says Dr. Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Research Director and Extension Program Leader.

Ample rainfall and a warming trend, Boman says, could mean cotton farmers will be anxious to start planting by late April.

"Cotton producers should be considering basic maintenance issues, especially for planters,” he says. “It is important to double check planter bearings, discs, chains, vacuum systems and plates to make sure everything is in excellent working condition. Badly-worn parts should be replaced to contribute to planting precision. Seed tubes can be plugged due to insects and trash accumulation. It is a good idea to make sure delivery tubes are clean and flowing freely.

He says planter adjustment is something of “an art.  Each field should be assessed, and, as many producers are aware, even the soil and moisture variability in a given field can result in planter adjustment concerns. Soil moisture (good seed to moist soil contact) level is critical in the zone immediately surrounding the seed. If too much dry soil is removed from the planting zone, hard crusting or 'baking' behind the planter can occur, especially if high temperatures, wind and low humidity are a challenge at planting time.”

Modern planters are less likely to have that baking issue, he says, although it may be a concern in some instances. “Seed should be planted in good moisture, probably not more than two inches deep, depending on the seed vigor, wind and heat forecast. Dry soil in the seed furrow or incomplete closing of the seed furrow may result in highly variable stands when difficult environmental conditions are encountered.”