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What should I do about hail damaged cotton stands?

Hail DamageEvery year some fields are hit by hail. The replanting statements in Should I replant? apply to hail-damaged cotton as well. Deciding what to do with a field of cotton after a hail is often a difficult decision. When looking in a hail-damaged field, examine the plants to see what percent have a terminal, what percent do not have a terminal, and what percent are cut off below the cotyledon node. Those cut off below the cotyledon node will probably not recover. Those that do not have a terminal will probably recover but produce a crazy plant with many branches. These plants can produce cotton but will mature late and be subjected to the problems associated with late cotton, i.e., insects, weather, and increased production cost with low potential returns. In other words, the risks are great

Examine the stems of seedlings that survive. Stem damage may be severe enough to cause lodging later in the season. As the season progresses, additional considerations include the following: How "strong" is the soil? Where in the state is the field located, north or south? What is the variety in the field?

If the date is after the first of June and the number of plants that are damaged to a degree such as to make survival unlikely is go great that the plant population will be below 20,000 plants per acre with numerous skips, destroying the stand may be in order. If the survivable plant population is greater than 20,000 plants per acre, and the stand is uniform I would keep it. Plants with damaged terminal will produce vegetative branches which will set fruit. Maturity will be delayed and management must be adjusted for a late crop.

Hail DamageIf the weather turns favorable after a hail storm event, plant recovery will be phenomenal. One of the reasons for this is that the root:shoot ratio has changed tremendously. The plant should have the same size root system after the hail storm event as it did before. However, the shoot, or leaf area, will be greatly reduced.

The fact that the leaf area is reduced and injured is one of the reasons why attempting to foliar feed hail damaged cotton has not been successful.

There are no miracle cures that can be sprayed on the fields to increase survival or yields. Make replant decisions carefully.

The very thing that makes cotton so complicated to manage, being an indeterminate perennial, gives cotton an advantage over other crops when hit by hail. Cotton can recover much better from hail damage than soybeans, and especially corn.

If there is a doubt, keep it. Cotton can really come back.

When examining a hail-damaged field examine the plants to see what percent have a terminal, what percent do not have a terminal and what percent are cut off below the cotyledon node. Those cut off below the cotyledon node will probably not recover. Those that do not have a terminal will probably recover but produce a crazy plant with many branches. These plants can produce cotton but will mature very late and thus be subjected to the problems associated with late cotton, i.e. insects and weather. Examine the stems of those seedlings which may survive. Stem damage may be severe enough to cause lodging later in the season.

After a hail, avoid going into the field for several days. Cotton will look terrible the day after hail event. Give the cotton some time to recover before herbicides are applied.

Hail damaged cotton will produce numerous vegetative branches. Hail damaged fields will also act like and need to be treated like "late cotton." The only plant growth regulator we have had much success with in late cotton is mepaquat chloride (PIX, ect). For this reason hail damaged cotton has a good potential to respond to PIX application. These applications should be made after the cotton has recovered and branching and setting fruit. If you have specific questions about manageing hail damaged cotton, call your local county agent.

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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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