All posts by Tyson Raper, Cotton & Small Grains Specialist

Defoliation trial results, thoughts, and concoctions for the next few days

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I dug through my closet to get a jacket this morning.  With cooler temps creeping into the forecast, calls on defoliation timing, products and rates have really picked up.  In this blog, I highlight results from the earliest defoliation strip trial we’ve applied in 2021, share a few concoctions that I’ll be running on the earliest cotton here in Jackson next week,  circle back on boll maturity and give a couple of additional thoughts on what we will likely face in the coming weeks.

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Survey on boll maturity: Will ethephon open it?

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We can learn a great deal by comparing notes.  Slicing bolls is one of the best ways to time defoliation- and most agree on what represents a ‘mature’ boll (dark seed coat color, no jelly in seed, hard to slice with a sharp knife).  But when it comes down to it, there is a large amount of variation in what each of us, as agronomists, consider to be a boll that could potentially be opened by ethephon.  With cool temperatures in the forecast on what remains a late crop, many are trying to figure out which bolls might be opened with an application and when to start.  To get the conversation started, I texted the above picture to a few dozen individuals within the industry to get their thoughts on this question- what is the lowest number boll you believe you can open with ethephon? Continue reading


2021 Mid-South Cotton Defoliation Guide now available

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The 2021 Mid-South Cotton Defoliation Guide is now available online.  You can access the guide by clicking the above image or any of the embedded links within this post. This guide was compiled and is updated yearly by Extension Cotton and Weed Science Specialists from throughout the Mid-South.


Couple of thoughts on cotton and a field day in Fayette County Sept 13th

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In the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to walk several excellent fields that will likely be defoliated in September and many of our later planted acres have narrowed the maturity gap despite the weather continuing to fall below our 30 year average for heat unit accumulation.  On farm visits throughout this summer, I often found myself repeating the old verbiage about ‘cotton knowing how long it has left in the season’- half to provide a positive outlook on the crop, and half to convince myself that some of this top crop had a chance.   We still have a ways to go, but in the last few weeks, that saying about cotton knowing where it is in the season again appears to be true. In this blog, I share a few last-minute management thoughts, make a few comments about defoliating some of our earliest cotton, and highlight a field day coming up next Monday, Sept. 13th in Fayette County.

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Environmental shed and abnormal growth appearing in some areas

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Over the past few weeks, several have reported poor retention in an area just northwest of Jackson.  I’ve spent several days walking some of the impacted fields- this crosses multiple growers and a substantial number of acres- and the cause is becoming more clear.  The adjacent image is characteristic of retention and growth noted within the impacted area. In this blog, I attempt to describe the mechanisms that drive environmental shed, our current hypothesis on the cause of poor retention in the area just north of Jackson, and the decisions you’ll need to make if you see this on one of your farms.

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2021 Cotton Tour STILL ON! Join us THIS WEDNESDAY (Sept. 1st) at 8AM

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Join us this Wednesday for the 2021 Cotton Tour!  The remnants of Hurricane Ida and the three doves that were in the area will be gone by Tuesday afternoon.  Partly cloudy weather with mild temperatures are forecast for Wednesday- hard to ask for better field day weather! Continue reading


Agenda for Sept 1st Cotton Tour now available

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The 2021 Cotton Tour is less than a week away.  You can access the agenda by clicking the above banner or here.

This event is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 1st at the WTREC (605 Airways Blvd., Jackson, TN 38301).  Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. with the tour departing at 8:30 a.m.  The tour will end at noon with lunch. University of Tennessee Extension and Research personnel from across the state will be presenting on a wide range of topics including: variety testing, including updates on ThryvOn; fungicides and target spot; weed and resistance management; defoliation; insect control; market outlook; and drought mitigation, just to mention a few.  Pesticide Re-certification and CCA points will be available.

Cajun Express will be catering the event with fried catfish and chicken.  Come join us Wednesday morning to pick up some useful information and eat a great meal right before dove season opens!


Accumulated heat units during 2021 and our last effective bloom date

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If I were to ignore the calendar, I’d rate Tennessee’s cotton crop as above average.  Another half inch of rain would be nice, but considering, it appears things are progressing nicely.  Unfortunately, we are staring at the last effective bloom date with fewer fruiting branches and subsequently fewer bolls on each plant than I’ve observed since I arrived in Tennessee.  In this blog, I highlight a few decisions which we will have to make in the coming weeks and reasons why this crop may fail to fall within the same yield ranges we’ve observed in recent years. Continue reading