• Agronomic Insights, Plant Health
  • Jun 17, 2019

Keep Close Tabs on Cotton Management

Close up of cotton plant
We had some very wet weather in the South earlier this season, which made it difficult to plant cotton in a timely manner. This was followed by very dry conditions in some areas. The extreme weather has made 2019 quite challenging so far, and could make the remainder of the year equally tough. At WinField United, we’re here to help address these unique challenges and to help provide the support you need alongside our retail partners.
But as a cotton grower, you know that even under ideal conditions, cotton requires intense monitoring and management throughout the season. Here are some tips to help guide your in-season decisions.

Manage cotton populations

Even if you have a population of one to one-and-a-half cotton plants per foot, that’s okay, as long as that population is consistent. Problems start when there are gaps between plants of greater than 3 feet, which can cause yield loss. Having more gaps usually means that plants are robust, with more vegetative branches and leaves. This will result in management challenges throughout the year, especially when it comes to managing growth and maturity.

Control insects

Cotton seed treatments typically last 21 to 28 days in a given growing season. This year’s weather pattern is causing plants to emerge later, resulting in reduced activity from seed treatments. Loss of insecticidal activity means that the plants are at a higher risk for early- season insects and will require careful early-season management.
Cotton bollworm flights have been a big problem the past few years, as they emerged from corn and then started feeding on cotton bolls late in the season. Keeping worm feeding to a minimum will help you optimize yield and control the earliness of your cotton plants so that plants mature prior to a freeze — especially where populations are lower than ideal. Keep a good handle on the threshold of insects you have in the field.

Constrain plant growth

Your agronomist can help you determine how much plant growth regulator (PGR) you need to limit the growth of your cotton plants and manage for high fruit set and retention. Some farmers are using satellite imagery to guide variable-rate PGR applications to help remedy inconsistent stands. Satellite imagery from the R7® Tool can help in this regard, so ask your agronomist to demonstrate this capability for you.

Ensure proper nutrition in cotton crops

It’s critical that your plants have the nutrients they require to achieve your yield and quality goals. In addition to plants needing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, cotton plants also require micronutrients to optimize boll set and development. MAX-IN® for Cotton NF micronutrients are an effective foliar-applied source of calcium, boron, manganese and zinc for increased cotton fruit set and boll size. These micronutrients can be mixed easily with other plant nutrients and most crop protection products, and can be mixed with mepiquat chloride, mepiquat pentaborate and other growth regulators.

Take tissue, leaf and petiole samples of cotton

Using tissue analysis data, such as the NutriSolutions® testing library, will let you know if your cotton plants have adequate micronutrients or are coming up short. Plants need calcium as well as boron for anthesis and early bloom. During early anthesis it’s especially important to aggressively protect first- and second-position fruiting bodies. In addition to MAX-IN for Cotton NF, talk with your agronomist about whether MAX-IN Boron is a good choice for your fields. Both products help cotton flowering as well as boll set and development.

Manage your cotton crop week-to-week

Scout your cotton crop weekly over the entire season to monitor nutrition needs, PGR applications and insects. Cotton requires continual evaluation, and how you manage the cotton field to the right will be different than how you manage the cotton field to the left. Each field has its own distinct soil type and management strategy.
Show your cotton crop some love this season. Work with your locally owned and operated WinField United retailer to execute your management plan so you can harvest the fiber length and strength, and the profit potential, you desire.

© 2019 WinField United. Important: Before use, always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices and weather conditions. Farmers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations over multiple years and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. CROPLAN®, MAX-IN®, NutriSolutions®, R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

Agronomic Insights, Plant Health