We should also consider an operation’s planting capabilities (how long it takes to plant the entire crop) and plan properly to ensure the crop is planted within our normal planting window and in time to meet insurance cutoff dates.

Seed quality: This is something that is often taken for granted during the rush to plant the crop. Seed quality can greatly influence germination, subsequent seedling vigor and ultimately overall stand establishment and final yield, especially when encountering adverse weather that can occur during the early portion of our planting window.

When evaluating the germination of cotton seed, consideration should be given to both the warm (standard) and cool germination test percentages. Results from the warm germination test are more indicative of seed germination in near-optimal conditions.

However, we may encounter less than optimal temperatures during the early portion of our planting window, thus the warm germ rating may not be the best measure of actual seed performance during such environmental conditions.

The cool germ test is a better measure of germination and vigor in sub-optimal conditions such as cool, wet weather. This information can often be provided by the dealer and/or the seed company.

Cool germ percentages between 65 and 80 are considered to be good, while percentages greater than 80 are considered to be excellent.

Seed with cool germ percentages ranging from 50 to 65 should be planted with extreme caution.

Understanding both warm and cool germ test results, allows us to somewhat predict the potential for stand losses in various environmental conditions, and also provides a basis upon which seeding rate decisions or adjustments can be made in order to achieve optimal stands in these conditions.

Additionally, protecting our seed by avoiding herbicide injury, maintaining proper soil pH, and ensuring protection against thrips, nematodes, and seedling diseases, are all considerations that are not to be ignored.

Obtaining an optimal stand is extremely important, and even more so since it appears that seed for some varieties for 2013 are already limited, making replant options even more limited.

Planting dates and seeding rates: Planting in optimal soil conditions is very important in achieving optimal germination and vigorous early-season growth.

Although seed companies generally only bring high quality seed to the market, temperature and moisture play significant role in the establishment of the crop.

We are currently coming out of a short, mild cool spell. Many growers have probably planted in conditions similar to these in the past, without observing any adverse effects on germination or seedling vigor, especially when planting into well-drained and/or bedded soils.