As the last effective bloom period approaches for Georgia cotton, growers with late-planted cotton continue to pray for rain and now add late frost to the list.
Growers soon can get an idea of what yield to expect.
"The best way to determine yield potential of cotton planted beyond the recommended planting window is to wait until our last effective bloom date [Sept. 5-15 depending on fall weather and the date of first frost], and count harvestable bolls at that time," according to an article by University of Georgia Extension cotton specialists Guy Collins and Jared Whitaker in the Georgia Cotton Newsletter.
"The general rule of thumb for determining yield potential is 10 to 12 normal-size bolls per foot of row on 36-inch rows equals a bale per acre," the specialists report. "There is variability to this rule, due to differences in seed and boll size and gin turnout of the particular variety, the retention of these bolls - which will depend heavily on rainfall, and the rate of development and size of these bolls."
Yield expectations are not high for those acres. The recommended planting window for cotton in Georgia is June 15. Drought conditions on dryland acres pushed many growers beyond that window.
"Planting beyond our recommended planting window requires more things going right than wrong, and generally has erratic, inconsistent, and unpredictable results," Collins and Whitaker said. "Yield potential will likely be reduced to some degree depending on how late particular fields were actually planted, although the degree of reduced yield is likely going to be strongly correlated to the amount of rainfall that occurs which may enhance earliness in these fields."
Intense management, including irrigation, insect control and plant growth management where needed, can improve the yield of late planted cotton. What growers really need is perfect weather as the crop approaches harvest.
"Hopefully," the specialist said, "we will experience fall conditions similar to that of 2010, when warm weather persisted without an early frost."
To read more about late season considerations in cotton, visit www.ugacotton.com.