While a high percentage of North Carolina cotton has been picked, some late-planted and late-maturing varieties have growers stumped as to when to defoliate.

Cotton specialist Keith Edmisten told growers that conventional methods of determining when to defoliate just won’t work on cotton that has been subjected to record daytime and nighttime temperatures and in some cases prolonged drought.

Edmisten showed growers three cotton stalks from three different fields. The question was whether the popular NACB method ofdetermining crop maturity would work.

In this system the grower counts the nodes above the first cracked boll (NACB). This is done by selecting plants with a first-position cracked boll (cracked enough that lint is visible) and counting the nodes above the cracked boll up to the highest node that has a harvestable boll. 

On one plant the NACB method worked just fine. On the other two, the grower would have been wasting time and money and would have risked damaging his cotton by following conventional defoliation strategy.

Other tour stops included: A look at different fungicide seed treatments used in cotton and how important these may become in the future as Temik continues to be phased out. A comparison of organic and inorganic soil fertility inputs. And, a discussion on development of variable rate tillage capabilities in the future.

Ambrose, who was one of the hosts for the meeting, and a driving force behind establishment of the various tests at Flatland Farms, says the change in venue gives cotton growers from the Blacklands area a chance to attend the meeting. He points out that cotton production in the area is relatively new, beginning in the mid-1990s for most growers.

Respess, who farms with his son-in-law Derrick Tetterton and farm superintendent Kenneth Van Staalduinen, has hosted numerous meetings at his farm and has been a long-time leader in North Carolina cotton production. He says, as he heads toward retirement, this will likely be the last such event he will host, but hopefully not the last one he will attend.