Mother Nature has not been cooperating this spring (geez mom!). 

It looks like there may be some opportunity for one more flurry of cotton planting when we dry from this last bout of rain, after which most folks will probably make the switch to soybeans. 

Below are some thoughts to consider when managing late planted cotton. Manage for earliness! This includes a whole slew of things including variety selection, proper fertility and irrigation, and good insect management. 

Don’t make a late crop even later unless you enjoy racing the frost and battling late-season insects.

• Larry Steckel already made the suggestion in a previous article to switch towards early maturing varieties such as AM 1550, DP 0912, FM 1944, PHY 367, PHY 375 and ST 4145. Although there are a couple of decent non-Bt varieties out there, they are not a great fit for later plantings.  The vast majority of your acres should be planted in Bollgard II or WideStrike varieties.

• Avoid the over-use of nitrogen. Previous research has shown that 80 pounds of nitrogen is very adequate for the vast majority of fields in Tennessee, and you should consider lower rates in good bottoms that tend to be wetter, have better soil, and a propensity to be later maturing anyhow.

• Except in special circumstances, irrigation prior to bloom should be avoided. Research by Brian Leib indicates that more harm than good often comes from this. It delays maturity without the yield reward in many cases. With high water levels in our soil profile, the need for early irrigation would seem pretty minimal at this time.