What is in this article?:
- Narrow rows, carpet roller can cut cotton input costs
- Larger tests under irrigation
- Major weed hurdle
• Two research projects under way at the two primary cropping research stations in South Carolina are geared to helping cotton farmers, and in some cases peanut and soybean growers, cut some costs without sacrificing valuable yield or quality for the 2011 crop.
• Cotton growers in South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina continue to battle ever-increasing numbers of glyphosate and ALS resistant weeds — Palmer amaranth being the major nemesis.
• Clemson weed scientist Mike Marshall has tested a new machine that is essentially a carpet roller mounted on a steel drum. Herbicide is pumped onto the carpet, which coats the taller weed without damaging the target crop.
Larger tests under irrigation
Will Henderson is looking at a similar test, but his plots are larger and are under irrigation at the Blackville location.
“When we put in a high rate of seed in these narrow rows, we got a lot more top growth and rank growth than in the standard 38-inch row. We will see what seeding rate looks better in the narrow rows,” Henderson says.
Once cotton is harvested later in October, the Clemson researchers will analyze data from yield monitors and evaluate quality factors to determine how the narrow row planting fared with conventional 38-inch row spacings.
In tests across the Cotton Belt ultra-narrow-row (less than 10 inches) cotton has saved growers from $100-300 per acre. Much of the savings come from reduced tractor and picker costs, since narrow rows generally require stripper harvesting. Whether or not the narrow row, twin-row cotton Jones and Henderson are planting can be picked rather than stripped remains to be seen.
Ultra-narrow-row cotton typically requires 80,000-120,000 plants per acre. The narrower the row of cotton, the more columnar or slender the plant tends to be. Limbs tend to be very short and the majority of the cotton is set at the first position with a few second position bolls and typically no bolls at the third position on a fruiting branch.
Though Henderson notes rank growth on the twin-row, narrow row cotton he planted at the Blackville Station, height of narrow row cotton is typically 24-30 inches, further reducing costs by reducing the need for plant growth regulators.
Glyphosate tolerant crops may be the single most significant scientific breakthrough in farming, but over-use of this family of herbicides and natural biological progression of prolific weeds has placed many growers, especially cotton growers, in the Southeast in the position of having to spend a lot of money to control a number of weeds that have resistance to glyphosate.
Palmer pigweed is the most oft-cited, but by far not the only weed that has developed resistance to glyphosate. Marestail or horsenettle, Italian ryegrass and giant ragweed are all as problematic in some fields in some areas of the country.