Cotton Hail Damage

Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist
By Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist May 25, 2012 16:19

Cotton Hail Damage

Hail damage has occurred in scattered areas over the past week to ten days.  Areas around Clarksdale, Sledge, and Yazoo City as well as others have been affected by hail.  Deciding whether or not to replant following hail damage can be a difficult decision to make and several things should be considered.  The first thing that should be considered is the date.  Given that this is Memorial Day weekend, we are definitely on the outside of an optimum planting window; however, we are not totally out of the window for planting cotton.  Also, the number of plants that will survive as well as the amount of damage these plants must be given some thought.  If large and frequent skips are present, substantial yield losses are likely and replanting must be given some thought.  Good yields can be achieved with plant populations as low 20,000 plants per acre if no large skips are present.  However, if populations are this low, extra care must be taken to protect all remaining plants in the field as the loss of any will likely result in yield reductions.  If replanting is being considered, the value of late May planted cotton compared to soybeans is important to consider.

Plants that have suffered hail damage should be examined closely.  Generally, if a plant is cut off below the cotyledons, it will not survive.  If the terminal has been damaged but stems are not cut off below the cotyledons, the plant may survive.  However, even if these plants survive you will likely have cotton plants with multiple terminals, also known as crazy cotton.  Crazy cotton can produce acceptable yields; however, maturity will likely be delayed which can lead to increased insect issues as well as weather issues in the fall.

There are no miracle cures for hail damaged cotton.  Essentially, the number of plants that are likely to survive needs to be determined.  Once that is established, a uniform stand (even at a reduced population) must be present.  If you have a decent stand and the surviving plants are evenly distributed, you will likely benefit from keep your existing stand.  However, if plant survivability is low and large skips are present, replanting (either to cotton or soybeans) must be given serious consideration.  Make these determinations on a field by field basis as hail damage has been spotty.

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Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist
By Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist May 25, 2012 16:19
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