Cotton Plant Populations and Re-Plant Decision Making

Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist
By Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist May 9, 2015 07:07

The 2015 crop has been planted and is emerging very quickly thus far and environmental conditions have been very favorable for the past week.  If environmental conditions continue, the likelihood of re-plants is minimal.  However, keep the following in mind if you are facing a re-plant situation.  Research conducted at Mississippi State indicates that plant populations as low as 15,000 per acre will produce very good yields.  Keep in mind, this is approximately 1 plant per foot on a 38″ row.  Populations of this magnitude will look very thin from the truck.  The biggest factor is the presence or absence of skips within your stand.  If you have numerous 2-3 foot skips throughout your field, re-planting may be warranted.  However, if you have 1 plant per foot and all are evenly spaced, keep the stand you have regardless of the calendar date.  As we progress further into May, you will have to become more accepting of thinner stands and existing skips with a stand of cotton.  Essentially an inverse relationship exists between calendar date and re-plant decision making.  As we move further into the growing season, the likelihood of re-planting diminishes.  While you may re-plant late in May or early in June and get a better stand, you are potentially hurting yields as fall weather is unpredictable.  Keep in mind, over 60% of our crop was planted from May 15 to June 6 in the pas two years and we have made record yields each of those years.  Do not be lulled into thinking that we will have tremendous fall weather as we have the past two seasons.  My fear is that an early fall is going to appear and we will be caught with cotton that is not fully mature and yield reductions will occur.

The decision to re-plant or not is one of the most agonizing decisions one has to make.  I am hopeful that most will not have to make this decision this year.  As everyone who has made this decision knows, even after the decision is made, questions exist in your mind all year about was is it the right thing to do or not.  My advice is to make the decision based on the data provided above as well as your personal experience and don’t look back.  In this situation, a short memory may prevent some sleepless nights.

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Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist
By Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist May 9, 2015 07:07
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