Start right to end right. Sounds as simple as the mantra to “be timely”. Neither management mantra is easy to follow; both are essential to harvest successful cotton crops.
The First 40 Days are critical to the success of your cotton crop. Pre- and early-season decisions influence season-long pest impacts, yield opportunity and lint quality. Proactive decisions are key. Pair high-performing varieties with premium seed treatments and weed management tools to protect your crop from nematodes, early-season insects and resistant weeds.
The first decision is to choose varieties that have strong seedling vigor and are bred from elite germplasm with the characteristics your field needs, including resistance to diseases, such as bacterial blight.
“One thing that needs to be top of mind for growers is to pick a variety with yield stability, not one that’s only yielded for one year but one that’s shown performance in multiple years. They also want to choose a variety with strong early-season vigor so they can get that crop up and going and minimize the risk of replant,” says Scott Asher, Bayer Eastern agronomic services manager. “They also want to look at the field history, especially in regard to disease pressure. Variety selection is the priority for controlling bacterial blight and Verticillium wilt.”
Pressure from nematodes starts when the seed drops into the furrow. Nematodes rob more than yield; they also rob plants of water and other nutrients.
“That first 40 days is the most critical part of that plant’s life,” Bayer Senior Technical Representative Keith Rucker says. “That’s when it’s sinking down that root system that it’s going to draw nutrients and water from all season long. When we protect that root system early in the season that plant has a really good shot at being able to fend off nematode attacks that come in later in the season. When they’re being attacked by nematodes from day one what happens is you get a stunted root system and that plant is never able to really overcome it.”
Growers who plant Stoneville® cotton seed receive pest protection in the bag. COPeO® Prime, a highly effective nematicide seed treatment, is part of the base package on Stoneville.
“Having COPeO Prime on the seed from the beginning – having every seed already coated – to combat the nematode pressure that is in that given area of the field will really make for a more uniform stand, a more predictable stand upon emergence,” says James Rutledge, Bayer technical service representative.
Growers who add the premium treatment of Aeris® and Trilex® Advanced add nematode and disease protection layers to the seed.
“We have the potential with Aeris, Trilex Advanced and COPeO Prime to limit potential early-season robbers,” Bayer SeedGrowth™ Product Development Manager Jeremiah Mullock points out. “When we add Aeris we’re adding a second chemistry for nematodes and also dual protection, two sites of action, for thrips in Aeris.”
Under higher nematode pressure, consider Velum Total.
“What can we expect if we use Velum Total in the right field with a nematode problem is less damage to that plant, less galling in the sense of the root-knot nematode. We can expect better growth and we can expect better yields,” University of Georgia Extension Plant Pathologist Bob Kemerait says. “If we have the right varieties, we have the right production practices, we have the right nematode population, the use of a nematicide like Velum Total should help us to produce a better crop and better yields as well.”
Weed competition also threatens the crop early in the season. Key here is to manage weeds before you see them.
“Growers are always looking to cut costs to make their business run efficiently. But, you still need something that works and Liberty is that option for resistant weeds,” Bayer Regional Agronomist Jenny Cahoon says. “For weed control, it’s important to start early, target small weeds less than three inches, optimize coverage and pair with residuals. The Liberty system works and growers have seen that. Get control of those resistant weeds early because that’s what’s going to help your yield. Weed control with Liberty gives you a great return on investment.”