Cotton Planting Conditions – April 26, 2021

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We are starting to see soil temperatures move into the 60s this morning. That is good news. Getting some cotton planted early in our planting window may reduce stress later on and help manage risk by spreading out the maturity of our crop.

Figure 1 Soil temperatures at 10 a.m. on April 26.

Soil temperatures

Table 1. Planting conditions for April 26 – May 1, 2021

Planting conditions

Looking at the chart above you can see we have good planting conditions based on DD60s with some warnings about cool night temperatures. Whenever we see a period where DD60s predict good planting condition but have these warnings about cool night temperatures, we should check soil temperatures and consider delaying planting until later in the day when soil temps rise. We often see soil temps increase by 4 or 5 degrees from early morning to noon when we have relatively high air temperatures.

The table above is for Rocky Mount and based on the 10-day forecast. We include this as a general guide. As spring weather forecasts can often differ across the state, we strongly encourage you to get a more local forecast that can be easily updated daily using the new NC State University Cotton Planting Conditions Calculator. The calculator can be found on the Cotton website under the link “Calculators and Decision Aids” on the left side toolbar, or directly at the Cotton Planting Conditions Calculator page. We encourage growers to use and monitor the calculator twice daily to account for potential changes in weather forecasts for your region or farm, especially when conditions are right on the line between acceptable or questionable. Simply click on your farm location on the map, and click “submit” for your local planting conditions forecast. A 5-day DD-60 forecast for the current day and the following day will appear with a rating for planting conditions (based on real-time National Weather Service forecasts) as well as some comments you may want to consider, in addition to the overall rating for planting conditions.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Cotton Seed Quality Testing Program continues to be a huge success with approximately 628 samples collected to date. Approximately 410 samples are completed with test results available in the database, with many more tests underway, and more samples on the way to the lab. Now that planting will likely begin this week on a large scale, use this information to make the best decisions possible, especially when planting in less-than-ideal conditions. It’s not too late to have seed tested, although results will not likely be available prior to planting for cotton planted in the next 2-3 weeks. Regardless, it never hurts to have a sample collected for testing in case a grower has a complaint (official samples only applicable for this purpose. See previous articles for information on official vs service samples). The NCDA&CS Cotton Seed Quality Database can be found on the NC State Extension Cotton Portal, under “Calculators and Decision Aids.”