What is in this article?:
• In 2011 weather took precedence over every other issue in North Carolina
• Texas set records for heat and drought.
• Extremes were the rule for Mid-South growers.
STAN WINSLOW, right, cotton consultant from Camden, N.C., visits with a group of fellow crop consultants, including Ray Young, second from left, after Winslow spoke at the annual Cotton Consultants Conference in Orlando, Fla. The consultants conference is the lead-off event for the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences. Young, often considered the dean of cotton consultants in the United States, is from Wisner, La.
Efficient irrigation a plus
Glodt said the unprecedented drought of 2011 graphically showed the advantages of efficient irrigation. “Efficiency paid dividends last year,” he said.
Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) systems, with 80 percent efficiency, proved far superior to broadcast irrigation systems, at only 50 percent efficiency. On a field with 16-acre feet of water applied, the crop gets only 8 inches from the broadcast system. LEPA provides 12.8 inches.
Water use efficiency will become even more important with new water restrictions in the Underground Water District No. 1. The new rules will allow 16-acre inches of water — where available — for contiguous acres.
“Wells will have to be metered or growers will have to use some other accurate means of correlation (energy uses, for instance) to monitor water.
“These restrictions will be a challenge to adapt to,” he said. “But a lot of farmers have not been using ET demand to manage irrigation efficiently. And some have gotten away from LEPA and switched to broadcast irrigation, and I don’t understand why.”
The Mid-South also had drought and heat issues but only after early-season flooding and cold temperatures set back planting and early emergence.
“Hot and dry came after cold and wet,” said Tucker Miller, Miller Entomological Services, Drew, Miss. Early rainfall and flooding was made worse in some Delta areas when a levee was blown, flooding vast areas of farmland.
“We also had a lot of wind, which turned over center pivot systems,” Miller said. “And we had hail, lemon-sized hail.”
He said growers got a late start planting. “We like to start around April 20, but a lot that was planted that early had to be replanted,” he said. Most planting was under way in earnest by mid-May and “cotton caught up quickly.”
Miller said Mid-South cotton farmers continue to watch for glyphosate-resistant weeds, which include waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, horseweed, giant ragweed and goosegrass.
He said variety selection is another concern. “Some of our non Bt refuge cotton made 200 pounds per acre more than BG II varieties and Stoneville 5288 also performed well. Miller said he believes low-level bollworm damage may account for some of the yield difference in BGII cotton and has seen yield advantages with a supplemental spray application.
He said thrips control remains a concern. “About 70 percent of Mississippi cotton required an additional foliar application. I’m not certain why we’re seeing heavy thrips pressure.”
He said the tarnished plant bug is also troublesome and in 2011 cost farmers $97.50 per acre. That compares to only $24.50 in 2002. “We’re trying to block cotton away from corn,” he said, to limit in-migration.
“We’re managing for earliness and are making early applications of Diamond insecticide.” Mixtures are also important control tools, he said. “And we may need to shorten spray intervals in areas with heavy pressure. New chemistry may help.”
Miller said high temperatures possibly contributed to 4-bract squares in 2011. And bacterial blight has resulted in yield losses of 200 to 300 pounds per acre.
“In 2012, we need to realize that consultants have to be involved in all areas of production,” Miller said. “Knowledge is the key.”