What is in this article?:
- At 28, Verett achieved a milestone—one-ton cotton.
- Both blocks were planted on subsurface drip irrigation.
- Varieties make a difference.
FARMING has always been in Kris Verett’s blood. He was raised on the Crosby County, Texas, farm and says he owes a lot to his father Steve and Uncle Eddie for putting him “in the position I’m in.”
Management is key
Making consistently good yields, Verett says, requires good land, a good water source and excellent management.
“Water is our biggest limiting factor here,” he says. “We try to concentrate our water on our best land. If we get the land and water and a couple of timely rains, we can make good yields.”
Nutrient management is a factor, too. He alters fertility a bit with drip irrigation, adding a little more than with pivot irrigation. “With drip I apply some fertilizer pre-plant with yellow herbicides. I want to have some fertilizer available early to get the cotton started and before I start watering. It’s important to understand when cotton needs fertilizer.”
He prefers to have about 40 percent out early, usually a 50-30-0 analysis. “During the season, I’ll add some through the drip tape, just nitrogen. We generally don’t need any potassium.
“I like to have all my fertilizer down by first bloom. When cotton goes into boll set, I want it to have everything it needs. At peak bloom, it’s using a lot of water every day, setting fruit, and I want the fertilizer to be available.”
He measures out nitrogen through the system. “I don’t like to apply too much at once. We can lose nitrogen to deep percolation, so I’ll meter it out over three or four weeks.”
Planting depth and timing are also part of the high-yield equation. “We don’t want to plant too deep. We can get crusting. Last year, those two one-ton blocs were put in about perfect, and we had really good cool germination. I also like to plant early so we can use the full length of the growing season.”
He says high-performance seed needs management to perform up to its potential.
“We also need to have it cut out on time,” he says. “By Aug. 15, we should have the necessary 850 heat units. After that maturing the smallest bolls is unlikely. So we want to cut out by mid-August. I slow it down early. We can’t do it several days before we want cutout.”
He used a little Pix growth regulator last year. “I could have been a little more aggressive. I used 12 ounces and maybe 16 ounces would have been okay. I had some tall plants.”
He cuts back on water to begin preparation for cutout. “I’ll reduce water by half about two or three weeks before cutout and I pull it back slowly. I may shut it off completely for a day or two.”
He says an early freeze last year helped with harvest prep on one of his drip fields.