Excessive rain hit several areas in Georgia’s cotton growing region in June. 

Where this kind of rainfall occurred, cotton was already planted. Cotton seedlings are highly sensitive to excessively wet soils.  In most cases the soil profile dries out and growth and development is not delayed. 

But the shear amount of rainfall and continued frequency of rains have left soil in parts of some fields or entire fields waterlogged for days, if not weeks.

First things first, the soil does have to dry out for us to do most anything to the crop. In cases, portions of a field will remain waterlogged while most of the field is drying out.  The question of when to start working a field may be based on when a particularly wet portion of the field dries, but consider that these parts of the field may remain unworkable for the entire year and proceeding with field activities in the majority of the field while staying out of wet areas may be the way to go.

Waterlogged soils can cause cotton seedlings to respond in various ways.  Generally, waterlogged conditions reduce the crop growth rate by replacing the air in the soil with water, depriving the roots of oxygen. 

These roots are unable to maintain normal respiration. Respiration is the process that the plant uses to provide energy and building blocks for growth. Respiration rates are highest in the terminal of the plant and the root tips.

As soils become saturated and eventually waterlogged, they are termed anaerobic. The effects on cotton plants may include chlorosis, yellowing, reduced shoot growth, reduced nutrient uptake, altered hormone levels, and other problems (many acres of cotton have symptoms of reddening leaves and stems being too wet, as well as typical nitrogen deficiency symptoms).  

So, if we consider the amount of rainfall and the fact that soils have been waterlogged (or close to it) for an extended period of time, the crop has gotten off to a slow, rough start.  This will bring up management issues that may or may not be worth addressing and will likely create a scenario where growers are trying to “fix the problem” or “bring the crop out of it.”

This issue will be something that just has to work itself out. As soon as the soil dries out, the crop should start to rebound and major alterations to management will not likely be warranted.  

In the meantime: