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What final live plant population should I target?

In Mississippi, cotton plant populations can vary from 30,000 to 55,000 plants per acre without seriously affecting yields, but 40,000 to 50,000 plants per acre is a good final target. This translates to a desired final population of 3 to 3.5 plants per row foot in 38-inch rows. Growers should avoid high plant populations because they can, 1) shorten the boll loading period, 2) decrease drought tolerance, 3) increase fruit shedding, and 4) increase number of small bolls. Extremely low populations should also be avoided because they can, 1) encourage vegetative development and large plant size, 2) delay reproductive development, 3) shift more bolls to outer fruiting branch positions and to vegetative branches, and 4) increase boll size and micronaire in key fruiting positions.

Seeding rate should be based on number of seed per row foot, rather than pounds of seed per acre. For example, if planting conditions are good and the desired population is 45,000 plants per acre, then the standard germination percentage should be a good predictor of emergence. If the standard germination is 80 %, then 45,000 divided by 0.80 equals 56,250. This means that 56,250 seeds should be planted per acre (same as 4 seeds per row foot in 38-inch rows) to attain a final stand close to 45,000 plants per acre (3.3 plants per row foot in 38-inch rows). Consider the scenario that the weather unexpectedly turns cool. Then, you expect field emergence to be close to the cool germination percentage (60 % in this case). For example, you would expect a final stand of about 33,750 [56,250 x 0.6] (2.5 plants per row foot in 38-inch rows), which is still within the acceptable range.

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News

A closed boll is seen on a cotton plant growing in a field.
Filed Under: Agricultural Economics, Cotton September 15, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rain, cool weather, more rain and some wind have slowed cotton maturation, but since the crop was a little behind schedule, the damage may be less than if harvest were already underway.

Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said recent weather is causing some yield loss, but it is hard to estimate how much.

“Being late to a degree helped the crop because rain did not string out open cotton, but given that we are running out of heat, we may have been better off with an earlier crop that had been defoliated and was standing up when the rain came,” Dodds said.

Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp. representative Mike Mullendore checks one of the cone-shaped traps located near a Mississippi State University research field on June 27, 2017. The traps evolved from U.S. Department of Agriculture research at the Robey Wentworth Harned Laboratory, commonly known as the Boll Weevil Research Lab at MSU. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Cotton, Insects-Crop Pests August 24, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cotton will always have challenges, but few of them will ever compare to the boll weevils that thrived in Mississippi from 1904 until 2009.

“It is nearly impossible for this younger generation of consultants, scouts and growers to understand how hard boll weevils were to control and how much boll weevil control hurt beneficial insects and complicated cotton management,” said Will McCarty, who served as the Mississippi State University Extension Service cotton specialist during “the boll weevil wars.”

Award-winning farmer Paul Good examines cotton growing in Noxubee County during a Mississippi State University field tour on July 12, 2017. Good said he remembers a time when farmers did not grow cotton in the area, mostly because of boll weevils. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Cotton, Insects-Crop Pests August 24, 2017

MACON, Miss. -- Farmers' independent natures make them strong, but when agricultural producers join forces, they can take success to the next level.

Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, commended Mississippi farmers for their efforts to unite in the battle to eradicate boll weevils from the state.

“Historically, boll weevils were the prime pest in cotton fields. To control them, it took numerous pesticide applications,” he said. “Those treatments were costly and ate into the growers’ profit margins.”

Dark clouds move toward Mississippi State University soybean and corn plots at the R.R. Foil Plant Science Research Center in Starkville, Mississippi, on Aug. 17, 2017. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Cotton, Grains, Rice, Soybeans August 18, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s row crops have had enough rain, and most fields just need sunshine.

Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said corn is mature and will gain no benefit from additional moisture. In the first couple of weeks of August, skies were overcast or rain was falling across most of the state.

Cotton across the state has been struggling with excess rainfall but remains in good shape at this point in the season. This cotton was growing in a saturated field June 22, 2017, at Mississippi State University in Starkville. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Cotton June 23, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Tropical Storm Cindy did not help the state's cotton crop that struggled with cool and wet weather all spring.

Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said in mid-June, cotton received about a week of the heat and sun it needs to thrive. Weather before that was not ideal, and rain remains in the forecast.

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