Home Farm Equipment Weather dictates cotton harvest prep

Weather dictates cotton harvest prep


Seth Byrd, Extension cotton specialist at Oklahoma State College in Stillwater, says the 2021 season has been a type of years when if one thing can go incorrect it would.

“We’ve had some weird issues come up,” he says. “Some years, we may have one of the problems; this year we had them all at once.”

Promising prospects

Even so, he says the crop, estimated at about 500,000 acres, is promising because it nears season’s finish and producers begin considering about harvest prep.

“Most of the issues we had will not affect harvest aid applications,” he says. “The biggest factor with harvest aids and how we approach harvest is that the crop is still a bit behind. I say that with bit of hesitation, however. A month ago, a lot of folks were saying we were two to four weeks behind. I thought maybe one or two. Today (August 25) after last week and hot, dry, weather through much of the month, most of the crop looks good with flowering near the terminal, with some fields still a bit behind.”

Oklahoma dryland, on-farm subject trial. (Picture by Seth Byrd)

Later within the afternoon, after checking quite a few cotton fields, Byrd up to date his evaluation of crop maturity.

“Not sure if it’s worth mentioning or not, but I think the major reason for concerns about maturity all year was that our crop just started fruiting higher up on the plant than normal,” he says. “So, not solely did we have now slow-growing circumstances from Might by way of early June, however I’m additionally persistently seeing our first fruiting department occurring a node or two greater than regular for varieties I’ve evaluated in earlier season.

“To me, this is the best explanation for why we’ve been concerned about maturity all year; this fruiting pattern has just shifted our whole fruiting window back. After looking at cotton all over the place today, I really do feel like we’ll be okay if September is kind to us.”

Two eventualities

He stated two eventualities may play out from now till producers put pickers or strippers within the subject.

“One, if September climate is favorable, hopefully we will get to the purpose with the crop in a really perfect window, 60% open, and we may have favorable circumstances to use harvest aids and put strippers or pickers within the subject.

“Two, we may have a look at the forecast and it’s unhealthy, tough climate unfavorable for cotton to proceed maturing by itself, and we begin making use of harvest aids at sooner than regular progress levels, say 50% open.

“Also, for those fields that are still behind in development now, we may not reach our harvest aid application window until later in the fall when we’re dealing with cooler weather.”

He says final yr was such a case. “We had a cold snap in early September that slowed things down. It took forever to get the crop from a point where we applied harvest aid to harvest. The month of September was colder than normal. We could see that again this year and crop progress could slow down.”

Query of timing

He says harvest assist utility usually comes with timing questions. “Most producers do a great job of opening harvestable bolls; the larger downside goes in earlier with plenty of inexperienced leaves nonetheless on the vegetation.

“If weather turns cooler or we apply earlier, we may apply higher rates of boll opener but still have to consider leaf. In that situation, we might want to increase rates or consider putting out a different mix or a different product.”

He says plenty of “Monday morning quarterbacking” goes on when producers query what they need to have achieved.

“The truth is, weather dictates performance of harvest aids. If we get into a situation where we apply in cooler temperatures or earlier than normal, producers might want to adjust the mix based on what they need to open bolls and also to remove leaves. When it’s cooler, harvest aid activity is slower. Be attentive to conditions. Match harvest aid mix to weather.”

He says no new harvest assist merchandise are beneficial this yr. “But we are looking at some different strategies.”


Conditioning the crop might be one. “That was not beneficial last year,” Byrd says. In our space, it could be this yr.”

Conditioning includes making use of a low fee of defoliant, at round 30% open, to knock leaves off. “In bushy, immature cotton, we can knock leaves off early, so when we make the traditional timing applications, we hope to get better coverage.”

He stated the method will depend on prevailing climate and crop circumstances. “Last year, much of the crop was not big and bushy, and there wasn’t a lot of benefit to conditioning, particularly when the crop was planted early. The cool September did not hurt that early-planted cotton as bad.  This year, a lot of cotton has not started to senesce yet. We have a lot of leaf to remove.”

Conditioning may assist out on the second utility. “Producers must spray not less than twice — to situation, then a second move that features a boll opener and sure a further defoliant. Conditioning may match for sure eventualities. Yield potential, crop situation, and climate forecast will dictate the necessity.

“Focus on harvest application timing as related to growth stage.” He says defoliation shall be tougher than opening bolls.

Weeds early

Byrd says producers had weed issues early within the season due to persistent rains however nothing that ought to have an effect on harvest.

“Early weed issues appeared worse than ordinary as a result of we had a lot rain that put stress on residuals. However people have been conscious and anticipated the residual herbicides to beak. When fields dried up, they have been in a position to make well timed purposes earlier than the weeds obtained too large. The fields I’m seeing now frequently are clear.”

The Oklahoma crop seems to be good, Byrd says. “We had good boll retention. Latest boll shed comes from vegetation which have a full fruit load, so shedding just isn’t from stress.

“We need a mild September, not down below 40 degrees on September 9 like last year. We were behind on heat units last year. An average September would do a lot of good. I hope we can avoid last year’s year cool spell and have an average freeze date to finish out cotton. The crop has a lot of potential if we can get there.”

Oklahoma acreage is down barely from final yr, Byrd provides. “However we had a great stand and never a lot abandonment. I feel we have now round a half-million acres.”


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