Category Archives: Cotton

Integrating Cover Crops in Nitrogen Management

Cover crops can supply nitrogen (N) to the soil for the subsequent cash crops and this nitrogen credit may be successfully integrated into N management. The challenging question is how much of the N supplied by cover crops is available for the next cash crop. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to this question since several factors influence the N availability from cover crops. There are two primary considerations if the goal of planting cover crops is to contribute N to the soil: the proportion of species in cover stand and the timing of cover crop termination.

The proportion of species in the established cover stand is important because different species have different effects on N. Depending on the species of cover crop planted, soil N may be removed or supplied to the soil. Grass cover crops (e.g. cereal rye, annual rye, wheat, oats), which are referred to as “scavengers” take up nitrates from either residual N fertilizers or organic matter decomposition. So, grasses do not contribute a whole lot to the soil N since not all of the scavenged N is available for the next growing season. An established cover stand comprised of all or mostly grasses will not provide any significant N benefit. Hence, the recommended N rate for the cash crop should not be reduced. In contrast, legumes (e.g. clover, winter pea, hairy vetch) supply additional soil N through biological N fixation. A well-established legume cover crop stand would supply sufficient N to warrant reducing the recommended N rate. UT currently recommends a 60 to 80 lb N credit for a well established legume cover crop that has reached early bloom.

Generally, most growers plant multispecies of cover crops with less than 50% of biomass being a legume. Since legumes supply N, a good percentage of legume in cover stands is required to maximize plant available N for the next cash crop. A study in TN has shown that 30% legume biomass in cover stands can supply up to 43 pounds of N per acre when terminated late. It is critical to evaluate a stand of mixed species cover crops to determine actual legume proportion if some N credit is desired.

The second consideration is the timing of cover crop termination. There is a thin line between growing cover for extended periods to maximize plant available nitrogen (PAN) and yield loss of the cash crop. Generally, if the goal is to maximize PAN from a well-established legume stand, late termination may be a preferred choice. It is worth pointing out that late termination would result in delayed planting and increase the potential for yield loss of cash crops such as corn. If the legume is terminated early, those plants are smaller and have less time to fix N which can be released back into the soil. In contrast, well-established grass stands must be terminated early, especially if growing a cash crop with high N demand (e.g. corn). This strategy will not necessarily supply N but, rather prevent N from being tied up in the soil.

In summary, unique challenges presented by rising N fertilizer costs may present opportunities to rely on cover crops to meet some N need for the next cash crop. However, to integrate cover crops in N management, the cover crop should consist of at least 30% of established legume in the cover crop stand and should be terminated at early bloom. Currently, UT only recommends a N credit of 60-80 pounds per acre of plant available N following a single species well-established legume cover crop that has reached early bloom.

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Dr. Seth Byrd: Cotton Outlook after a Freeze Event

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Calls concerning our forecast have been steady.  In order to get some insight into how to handle closed bolls some have remaining in the upper canopy prior to a freeze, I reached out to Dr. Seth Byrd in Oklahoma.  Dr. Byrd has served in both Texas and Oklahoma and has years of experience tackling this issue when an impending freeze event is in the forecast.  His comments are below.  Special thanks to Dr. Byrd for this contribution! Continue reading

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Managing Input Price Risk

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Posted by Tyson Raper on behalf of the author, Dr. Aaron Smith

It’s a challenging time for crop producers to manage input price risk. Input prices for fertilizer, crop protection (chemicals), machinery, fuel, labor, rent, and insurance are up substantially compared to last year at this time. Additionally, availability and timeliness of delivery are a major concern. Fertilizer prices highlight this dramatic increase in the cost of production (graphs above). Most common fertilizers have more than doubled compared to last year. As such, producers are seeking strategies to reduce input costs. Two recommendations, as a starting point, are soil sampling (know what you’ve got) and crop selection (know current relative cost and revenue relationships for commodities produced on your farm). Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” to mitigate rising input costs and availability concerns. So, producers will need to be creative in their approach and consider numerous strategies. Continue reading

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Bicentennial Heritage Festival This Saturday (Jackson, TN)

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Be sure to stop by the West TN Research and Education Center this Saturday (Oct. 9, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM) for this event commemorating our agricultural and rural heritage on the bicentennial of many counties in the region becoming a bona fide part of Tennessee. This should be a great event for families and the weather is looking good!

Link to the PROGRAM and VIDEO PROMO

Join us at 605 Airways Blvd, Jackson, TN, 38301

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Start Planning for Herbicide Shortages in 2022

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Retailers and the basic suppliers are all very concerned about herbicide shortages in 2022. We all can recall similar concerns this past spring.  In most cases applicators were able to get what they needed .  However, this spring retailers were often able to fill shortages by accessing carryover from 2020.  I have been told there will be no carryover herbicides to fill holes in 2022 so the probability of herbicides not being available is much more likely. Continue reading

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Harvest aid concoctions moving into the first full week of Oct

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Rainfall pushed us out of the field today and it looks like we may not get back to spraying until early next week; it is generally best to not apply harvest aids in front of a guaranteed rain.  In this blog, I cover defoliation concoctions as we move into cooler temperatures next week. Continue reading

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Cotton Specialists’ Corner: Conversations on Harvest Aids

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The Extension Cotton Specialist Working Group, under the leadership of Dr. Seth Byrd, began a podcast earlier this year discussing management decisions and topics important to the industry.  In the past two weeks, two episodes have been released which cover harvest aids; the first includes comments from Steve Brown (AL), Camp Hand (GA), and Bill Robertson (TX) discussing methods for scheduling harvest aid applications and application strategies to optimize harvest aid performance; the second includes Guy Collins (NC), Matt Foster (LA), and Tyler Sandlin (North AL) discussing various harvest aid products, tanks mixes, and how to address late season crop issues through harvest aid product and rate selection.  These podcasts contain excellent content which will be extremely timely as we move into the next few weeks.  Continue reading

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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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