The first 40 days of your cotton crop can set you up for either success or failure. Recognizing the importance of this window, two workshops of research and extension scientists from across the cotton belt have set the stage for identifying the best management practices for growers during this critical time. Virginia Tech Cotton specialist Joel Faircloth presented some of the findings at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans in January.
"It was determined very early on in the workshops that this is the most critical period in cotton production," Faircloth said. "In this period the yield potential is determined. The majority of inputs are committed. And we are now dealing with pest resistance and species shifts during this time period."
The recommendations begin with at-planting decisions, take the grower through an extensive look at insect control and other crop protection choices, and consider the ways crop uniformity, plant health and timely management effect yield and quality.
If you use the best management practices how will you know you've succeeded at getting the best possible crop out of your cotton at the end of the 40 days?
"Your cotton should be stress free with respect to agronomics and also pests," Faircloth explained. "You should have at least 30,000 plants per acre; that is 1 to 1.5 plants per foot with no 2-3 foot gaps. And at 40 days the optimum plants should have 7-9 nodes and 2-3 squares per plant."
Get a downloadable version of the crop report listing the best management practices for the First 40 Days, at www.cottonexperts.com, a Bayer CropScience website. The subject line is about one-third of the way down the page and you just follow the link for the downloadable pdf.