By Bill Robertson, Cotton Agronomist
Our planted acres are higher than many anticipated. Regina Coleman, Executive Director of the Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (ABWEF), recently reported that the ABWEF has calculated the state’s cotton plantings to be just over 360,000 acres. Even with the cotton fields that were replanted to soybeans this week, our current acres are thought to still be in excess of 360,000 acres.
The crop has made a tremendous turnaround this week. The majority of the cotton I have seen this week has ranged from 4 to 7 leaf. Most varieties are setting the first square on the 5th or 6th node. The record wet May coupled with cooler temperatures gave everyone heartburn this year. Seedling disease was a significant problem and appears to have been the root of many of our problems. Many were concerned that our poor color and growth was related to sand blasting, fertility, herbicide injury, and/or thrips injury. For many it was a combination of all the above but was magnified as a result of seedling disease. Some fields experienced significant delays as a result of seedling disease and other pests. These fields likely need to be managed as late-planted cotton regardless of planting date.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Arkansas, the cotton crop condition for week ending June 5, 2016 was 7% very poor, 9% poor, 22% fair, 46% good, and 16% excellent. Squaring has jumped from 1% to 3% in the last week, but was down from our five-year average of 12%.
The much-improved weather conditions this week have been good for all cotton. The majority of our crop should be squaring next week. So far I have seen few squares lost to plant bugs. Keep in mind that we want to maintain 80% retention going into bloom. Going into bloom with extremely high retention rates can set you up for failure if any problems are encounter as the margin for error is small when retention is high. Spend your early-season money wisely.
Most have or are working now to get their fertilizer applied. The second split of nitrogen is right around the corner. The weatherman is calling for a good chance of rain next week. A nice soaker will be welcome by most. However, if we make it through next week with no rain, it will be time to crank the wells.