Call of the Week: Cotton Seed Quality and Replant Decisions

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Dr. Tyson Raper addresses seed quality issues and offers guidance on making the decision to replant. Listen to Call of the Week.

Call of the Week Transcript:

Hi and thanks for listening to call the week I’m Ginger Rowsey. Our guest today is Dr. Tyson Raper who is joining us remotely. Tyson, I’m sure your call volume has really picked up over the past few days and weeks. What’s on the minds of a lot of your callers these days?

Raper: Well, we’ve got some issues with stands. We’ve had some adverse weather conditions on top of marginal seed quality from this past fall, so we’ve had a quite a few issues with whether or not to accept or replant.

Rowsey: Is this primarily a seed quality issue or a weather issue?

Raper: It’s really both. This past year, environmental conditions surrounding harvest in a lot of our seed production area were not ideal and as a result of that we’ve had some germination issues, and really some cold germ issues. So, when we start putting those seeds into some really stressful conditions they don’t have the vigor we’d expect. So that’s seed quality coupled with some really intense heavy rainfalls and two particularly cold nights earlier this week. It really increase concern around whether or not some of these seedlings are going to make it out of the ground to a profitable stand.

Rowsey: So is replanting something producers need to be considering right now?

Raper: Absolutely. Time is of the essence, and they need to be assessing stands. We’re really looking for two things: population and length and density of skips. We only need 1-2 plants per foot to make profitable yield, but we can’t tolerate large skips or very frequent skips and anything larger than 3 feet in length, that’s going to be an area that we’re not going to be able to compensate for. Cotton plants can lean in and use some of the vegetative branches to compensate for missing plants, but when we get into skips larger than 3 feet, those plants can’t do it. The adjacent plants cannot compensate for skips larger than 3 feet. So we’ve got to be able to assess how many skips are out there and how common are they in a certain area, and then overall are we looking at a 1-2 to plant for foot stand? Is it fairly uniform across the field? If it is uniform and we don’t have very many large skips, but our numbers are fairly low, perhaps 25,000 plants per acre, we could probably make a very profitable stand and wouldn’t want to replant. That being said, we may have stands in excess of 25,000 that are very inconsistent that result in several large areas of skips that are in excess of 3 feets. Those are going to be areas where we definitely need to replant.

Rowsey: Could you spot replant or do you need to just start from scratch?

Raper: Some people like to drop in and plant smaller areas. Some people don’t. I think the reason most don’t like to do that is you’re going to have two different maturities in that crop. It’s going to really influence the management decisions throughout the season. But, if we’re looking at 80% of the field is in really great shape, we’ve got a stand that we want and just a few small pockets, just dropping in and planting little areas like that would definitely be the most profitable and you don’t have to spend the money to go back over the entire field.

Rowsey: How much time do producers have before they need to make that replant decision?

Raper: We like to have all of our cotton planted by May 25. I think we’ll definitely have some June cotton this year. It’s important to note that when we get later in this planting window, our recommended planting window is April 20th through May 10th, when we get past May 10 we start to see a decrease in lint yield potential. Right now, May 16, we still have really good potential for lint yield and fiber quality. Once you start moving into late May early June we really see those numbers taper off. With that said, we’re probably going to accept a marginal stand  that was planted in early May as opposed to a really good stand that’s planted after May 25, simply because that early May marginal stand will likely still have better yield potential than a very good stand planted later. I’ve got some interesting data on planting date and population and looking at those two things concurrently. I’m going to post that on the blog today, Ginger, for everyone to take a quick look at. It pushes the point home that establishing a stand early is going to be more profitable than achieving a higher population later in the planting window.

Rowsey: Management is going to be really key this year. What steps are you advising for producers to be profitable this year?

Raper: It’s a tough year. I think the best approach is to look at every input critically and make sure it’s justified. When times are good we may through an extra value-added product in there, some type of additive or other foliar. In year’s like this we need to make sure that every one of those inputs is not only going to provide a return at the end of the year, but that it’s well worth the investment. We’ve got a lot of risk associated with this crop and I can’t emphasize enough that we look at every one of the other call you and you like this when you make sure that everyone of these inputs and make the best decisions to make sure this crop is a profitable one.

Rowsey: Alright, Tyson that you for being with us, we do appreciate you joining us remotely. For those of you listening be sure to go to and check out Tyson’s blog post which is going to include some data on planting dates and population. Once again thanks for listening to Call of the Week. I’m Ginger Rowsey, and we’ll talk next week.


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