The long agonizing cotton planting season has come to a close. I have heard that a few folks were spot planting some wet spots this week. This May 50th planted cotton I hope will not turn into as one consultant said an “expensive cover crop”. At the very least it should help compete with weeds in those areas. Much of the cotton has waded through the frequent monsoons, thrips and herbicide injury and is now starting to get its feet under it. For the first time driving across west Tennessee some of the cotton is starting to look like cotton. Some of this earliest cotton is 6 to 7 nodes has a first square and is really starting to look good. However, some of the June planted cotton is still struggling in some instances. We finally are getting some heat and hopefully it will all progress rapidly.
Many folks are trying to get their nitrogen applied to their cotton right in the middle of wheat harvest, soybean planting and applying fungicide to their corn. In the rush to get this all done do not forget this is a late planted cotton crop. Pushing the rate on nitrogen will delay maturity this fall. On a lot of this late May and Early June planted cotton I would not want to apply more than 60 lbs/A of Nitrogen in most cases. If a vetch cover crop was on the field I would not want to apply more than 40 lbs/A. There is no substitution for experience and you know how strong the ground is in any of your given fields. Therefore adjusting those suggested nitrogen rates up or down a bit based on your field experience also makes since in a spring when we have a lot of cotton planted very late.
We have been frequently asked to provide a guess on the cotton acres this year. This is tough as a good bit of planted cotton has or will be planted to another crop. Moreover it varies by areas as some folks report that they will be down about 20% or so while others are down as much as 60%. Judging by these discussions with folks and just traveling around the state I would not be surprised if we are not down as much as 40% or more over all. If that is the case, we would at best have about 200,000 acres of cotton this year. Depending upon how the dust settles on the replant issue it could be a good bit lower than that. Corn is probably down 30% from last year as well. All of this would add up to considerably more soybeans.