Cotton producers continued to plant cotton this week where fields were dry enough to work, despite the cool conditions Monday and Tuesday. By the first of the week, approximately only 47% of the crop had been planted. By Friday, most producers had finished planting cotton south of I-40 with exception of the fields that remain under water. Producers in Northeast Arkansas have not been able to finish up planting due to wet fields and cool weather conditions. Originally, Arkansas producers were intending to plant 630,000 acres of cotton in 2011. Frequent rainfall and floods have prevented the planting of approximately 120,000 acres of cotton thus far. Approximately 40,000 to 50,000 acres of that total are either completely flooded or affected by deep water and will most likely be planted with soybeans in June if waters recede. The remaining 70,000 acres of cotton in Northeast Arkansas should be planted if rainfall will hold off long enough for fields to dry. On the other hand, many cotton acres in Southeast Arkansas will require rainfall to provide enough moisture for germination and stand establishment. When it is all said and done, there may be 500,000 to 600,000 acres of cotton that Arkansas producers will harvest in the fall. This number will move up or down depending on weather conditions through the end of May.
Cotton that was planted Monday (May 9) and Tuesday (May 10) of last week is coming up to a stand without too many issues. However, cotton that was planted on Wednesday (May 11) and Thursday (May 12)is struggling to emerge to a stand, especially in fields that received heavy amounts of rainfall prior to the cool snap. The three or four days with low nighttime temperatures (in the lower 44°F range) really hurt the survivability of these germinating seedlings. This cool weather snap stopped cotton growth and development in its tracks for at least four days. Expect to see weak looking seedlings and seedling disease on many acres. The only cure for this is sunshine, warm weather and time. The fields that I am most worried about are those that were planted on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday (May 11-13) of last week. Scout fields closely and make re-plant decisions where necessary. Keep in mind that lower populations in the 20,000 to 25,000 live plants per acre can produce high yields assuming that few large skips (3ft or longer) are present and plants are healthy, especially the root system. Whether planting for the first, second or third time, it is time to plant only early maturing varieties. AM 1550 B2RF, DP 0912 B2RF, DG 2570 B2RF, FM 1740B2F and PHY 375 WRF are proven varieties that perform well when planted later in the season.
Scout, scout, scout this late planted cotton to prevent further delays from thrips and early weed pressure.