Boman says a good planting target includes a soil temperature of 65 degrees at the four inch depth. “The Mesonet provides this information: http://agweather.mesonet.org/index.php/data/section/soil_water.”

Boman says producers recognize that cotton seedlings can be damaged by cool, wet soils. He recommends delaying planting under normal soil moisture conditions until (1) the three-day Mesonet soil temperatures at the four-inch depth are at least 65 degrees.

(2) The five day forecast calls for dry weather and a minimum of 25 to 50 DD60 heat units. The normal calculation for daily cotton DD60 heat units is: ((maximum air temperature + minimum air temperature)/2)-60. “Essentially, the average air temperature for the day is determined and the 60-degree developmental threshold for cotton is subtracted. The DD60s for each day are then totaled. If you have faith in your local forecast, the projected high and low for the following several days can be used to calculate future DD60s.”

And (3) “Low temperatures are forecast to remain above 50 degrees for the five days following planting. Because of planting window constraints arising from the number of planters and acres to cover, this can be a nearly impossible goal.

"Even if planted into reasonably good moisture, growers should watch fields for moisture loss in the seed zone, especially if high winds and heat follow planting. If producers expect to follow planting with center pivot irrigation, the seed should not be placed more than one and-a-half inches deep. Make sure seed is covered well with soil.”

Stand, Boman says, is important for both uniformity and density. “Uniformity of planting seed in the row is affected by planter type,” he says. “The newer vacuum planters are extremely effective in controlling vertical distribution of the seed in the seed furrow and with horizontal spacing down the row. Modern planters typically provide excellent seed-to-soil contact capability.

“Seeding rate or density is controlled by the producer. The newer vacuum planters coupled with seed quality that’s generally higher than we often encountered in the past allows most producers to reduce seeding rates.

"However, because of the cost of transgenic varieties in addition to cost of insecticide seed treatments, many producers are pushing the agronomic minimum and living on the edge with little margin for error,” Boman says.

“Results of many seeding rate trials have been conducted in southwestern Oklahoma and the Rolling and High Plains regions of Texas for the last several years all show that seeding rates can be pushed to a lower level than what was generally accepted 10 to 15 years ago. However, producers must have extreme trust in their planters, field-specific planting situations, seed quality and environmental conditions after planting. It is difficult to justify, agronomically, less than two seed per row-foot as a best management practice for dryland cotton production."

 

TALKIN' COTTON is produced by NTOK Cotton, a cotton industry partnership which supports and encourages increased cotton production in the Rolling Plains of North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. For more information on the cotton scene, see ntokcotton.org and okiecotton.org. For comments or questions about Talkin' Cotton, contact bustersbarn1@yahoo.com.