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• Yield trends were slightly higher in 2010 than in 2009. If you look back to 2004, yields have been fairly stable at around the 800-pound mark, which isn’t bad when you look at the entire Cotton Belt. You can see an upward trend from 2000 to 2004, but beyond that, it has been fairly consistent despite heat and drought from this past summer.
• Essentially every state in the Southeast increased its cotton acreage in 2010 compared to 2009.
• In the lower Southeast, glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed is an ongoing battle, but growers are being more proactive about the pest, whether it be technology driven or through management practices.
Caterpillar pests an issue
Not so much in Georgia but in other parts of the Southeast, caterpillar pests were an issue this year, he adds. “As in other parts of the Southeast, yields were variable, partially dependent upon rainfall. In the latter part of July, our temperatures were extremely high in Georgia. Rainfall patterns were relatively dry compared to past years during the month of July. That forced our crop into a premature cutout in some cases and a lot of stress that could have impacted yields.”
One issue facing these growers in this region is variety changes, especially in Georgia, Alabama and Florida, and to some degree in South Carolina and the southern part of North Carolina, says Collins.
“We relied very heavily on Deltapine 555 as our predominant variety in past years. With the expiration of the single-gene Bt varieties, we are looking frantically for a replacement for our staple variety. We do have some varieties that seem to be competing well with 555, although the list is small. One thing we have seen in just a year is a drastic improvement in our fiber quality which does help the marketability of our cotton.”
Varieties planted in 2010 illustrate the “last gasp” of Deltapine 555, says Collins. Deltapine still dominates in the Southeast region, although there is a growing interest in Phytogen and FiberMax varieties in some of these states, he says.
“As we transition to new varieties, we notice they tend to have different fruiting patterns, and that affects how we manage the crop. Deltapine 555 is very aggressive, requiring aggressive PGR management, and that does not apply to some of these new varieties, so we’re having to change our management style as we make the transition.”
Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth is a primary challenge that has faced Southeastern growers for the last several years now, he says. “Now it has moved to north Alabama, and we hate it for those growers. However, they may be at a slight advantage in that they can learn from the experiences of farmers who have dealt with this problem in the past.”
In the Mid-South, essentially every state in the region increased its cotton acreage in 2010, notes Collins. Slightly higher yields were seen in 2010 than in 2009, especially in the Delta.
“Starting in the Missouri Bootheel, less rainfall was received than the long-term average. In Missouri, sections of the state went from extremely dry to extremely wet conditions. In Arkansas, they had a warm spring that allowed them to plant earlier. There was injury from pre-emergence herbicides due to rainfall patterns. Plant bugs are an ongoing challenge for those growers, but they were able to manage it with about three applications. They had a hot and dry mid- and late-season.”