What is in this article?:
• Excessive rain has created a scenario where cotton growers are trying to “fix the problem” or “bring the crop out of it.”
• What’s going to fix this cotton? Sunshine and dry weather will help. The plants, in many cases, just need time to recover.
ABUNDANT RAINFALL has left some Georgia cotton fields waterlogged for days, if not weeks. What should be done to help pull the crop through? Maybe a lot or maybe nothing.
What's going to fix this cotton?
SUNSHINE AND DRY WEATHER. The plant processes have been slowed and the plant needs time to recover. It will recover when oxygen levels reach normal in the soil and respiration can proceed as normal.
Most of the symptoms are related to the plant not growing, not a lack of something. In most cases, everything the plant needs is there.
Will this cotton live? If the soil is no longer waterlogged and the terminal is green and producing new leaves, then the logical answer would be that it has lived. If not, then it isn’t. That answer is pretty simple, but trying to decide while the soil is too wet to do anything is futile.
When the supply of oxygen is cut off to the plant and the field is in standing water, the plant can die in as little as 36 hours. When the supply of oxygen is completely cut off, roots stop absorbing water, even when completely saturated with water, and eventually die. Cotton which has produced several true leaves has fared much better than germinating cotton or cotton with less than two true leaves.
Is this crop worth it now? If the plants aren’t dead and actively growing, then in all likelihood it’s worth it. Proceed. If some or portions of the field are drowned out, insurance providers and experts may help with that financial decision.
If a part of the field was dry enough to get back going, it would make sense to farm the drier parts, but it may depend on the insurance side of it and the protection and coverage available.
What are the potential lingering effects? Stunted growth. Once excessive moisture is gone, normal growth should start, but the effects may be noticeable for much longer.
One potential issue with waterlogged seedling cotton is the dramatic reduction in root growth. In normal conditions roots develop 0.5 to 2 inches per day. Waterlogged conditions greatly reduce root growth. This may cause the crop to be more prone to drought later in the year.
Other than irrigation to alleviate drought stress, this is a problem that could potentially hurt yield. Development could be delayed such that the crop could be managed like it was planted much later than it really was. Waterlogging could slow growth to the point in which cotton planted much later could actually be farther along and management should reflect this.
Can I cultivate the middles and help it out? n some soils, excessive rainfall events tend to pack soil and “seal” it. When these conditions occur, drying of the soil may proceed slower and there is a potential for cultivation to loosen soil and allow oxygen to reach the roots faster and help the crop start to develop normally.
Since root development was restricted during wet conditions, cultivation could actually prune roots if the sweeps are set too low. One could dig around to see where in fact the major portions of the root zone are before considering cultivation. In most cases where soils are excessively wet for an extended period of time, lateral roots may be very close to the soil surface and pruning them may set us back even further, especially if the tap root has not developed as it should.