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Questions about cotton following a hurricane

Was the desiccation of cotton leaves due to the salt content in the hurricane?

This has been a common misconception. Many cotton fields across the state have desiccated leaves similar to symptoms from an application of Sodium Chlorate. However most of this is in the mature cotton leaves that have already started producing ethylene and abscisic acid. Ethylene and abscisic acid are hormones that accelerate senescence and leaf abscission. When the cotton plant is injured in any way, in this case 50 - 70 mph winds, these hormones are rapidly increased in the plant. This causes the leaves to increase the senescence process and begin to dry up. This coupled with the high winds for extended periods of time have left us with the "Sodium Chlorate" effect on the leaf tissue.

 

Winds have knocked off most of the leaves on my crop. Should I go ahead and defoliate or wait?

If your cotton crop is ready to defoliate (at least 60% open, and top harvestable boll is mature) then yes, you should begin defoliation. However, if your fields are only 30-40% open, defoliating will most likely lead to decreased yield and fiber quality, particularly length. Even though most of the leaves may be gone, cotton has a tremendous ability to compensate and may transport needed nutrients to immature bolls. Leaves will also re-grow in an attempt to compensate. Within 7-10 days if the crop is not recovering, you will know because the bolls will begin to open very quickly.

 

Will my cotton stand back up?

In most cases the cotton will straighten up if not but just a little bit. This is especially true when the cotton is defoliated where the leaves have it tangled up. In many cases where the cotton was rank and the top crop was heavy, it may take a little longer. However in years past when we have experienced high winds the cotton has always made an attempt to stand back up.

 

How much boll rot and hard-lock can we expect?

If the cotton bolls are lying on the ground, there is a pretty good probability that they will rot. The bolls that were beginning to crack when the storm hit stand a pretty good probability of hard-locking. Overall we shouldn't see more than a boll or two that will rot or hard-lock per plant. The fact that the wind took many leaves off will help to alleviate the rot problems.

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News

Close-up of a cotton plant.
Filed Under: Agriculture, Cotton August 30, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When the calendar turns to September, many who call Mississippi home long for cooler temperatures to relieve the summer’s heat, but the state’s cotton growers want high temperatures and dry weather to drag into October.

Water stands in a corn field
Filed Under: Crops, Corn, Cotton, Soybeans, Disaster Response June 24, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- MSU Extension agents will be assessing agricultural damage from early-June flooding until well into July, but preliminary estimates indicate losses could break records.

The 2019 Yazoo Backwater Area flood caused $617 million in crop damage alone. It looks like the more recent flood will exceed those losses.

Heavy rainfall, primarily north of U.S. Highway 82, throughout the second week of June waterlogged crops during critical growth stages. Flooding caused complete or partial losses in many fields.

 A man in a hat kneels among straw to point at tiny plants.
Filed Under: Crops, Corn, Cotton, Rice, Soybeans May 20, 2021

Because it is the first crop planted starting in March, Mississippi corn is in much better shape than other row crops struggling with the challenges of wet, cool weather.

Graphic showing 2021 planting intentions
Filed Under: Agriculture, Corn, Cotton, Rice, Soybeans April 1, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi row crop growers are planning to plant more soybeans and corn in 2021 than they did last year but not as much cotton, rice or hay.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, publishes its planting intentions report each year at the end of March. This report provides a state-by-state estimation of how many acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton farmers will plant in the upcoming growing season.

Filed Under: Agriculture, Corn, Cotton, Grains, Rice, Soybeans, Sweet Potatoes, Agri-tourism, Beekeeping, Equine, Goats and Sheep, Poultry, Swine, Turfgrass and Lawn Management, Vegetable Gardens, Forestry February 2, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Each February marks the occasion for producers to share their research and programming needs with Mississippi State University agricultural specialists in person.

To comply with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, the opportunity will be extended virtually this year.

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Cotton Agronomics
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