Since we obviously can't control when it rains, one thing we should control according to Daniel Olivier with Bayer CropScience is the weed population. Taking some extra precautions before putting those cotton seeds in the ground could make a big difference in your whole growing season.
"Getting closer to the planting season, definitely need to be getting their pre-emergence out, starting to pre-water and getting the fields ready, and start with a clean slate," Olivier said. "Really try and get the weeds under control before we get into planting. It's always a better idea to start with clean fields, it's easier to control weeds."
Olivier concentrates mostly on the region north of Lubbock where many growers rotate between several different crops. He advised that producers continue with their rotations and try to pick drought tolerant varieties as the dry spell continues.
"Water issues are really big for us now and everybody is aware of that, it's still dry," Olivier said. "We're hoping for some moisture, maybe some more rain. We've gotten some rain in some areas, but cotton is definitely a crop that can handle more drought situations."
No till or strip till are other management options that producers are trying to help reduce moisture loss.
"One of the things to keep in mind when you go in and do the strip till is make sure you go back and pre-water really good and firm up the seed bed," Olivier said. "We don't want to plant the seed and then start irrigation and then really sink the seed where it's too deep to germinate or emerge."
Of course another important choice is picking the variety that best fits your farm.
"Our FiberMax 2011 Glytol or our 9250 Glytol Liberty Link are two excellent choices, early maturing varieties that just really fits the far northern High Plains exceptionally well," Olivier said. "They're high yielding varieties with great quality as well and really perform good under very high irrigation situations, limited water, or even your dry land. Those two varieties perform really, really well."
And Olivier said that patience is truly a virtue this time of year. Getting anxious and planting too early can expose those cotton seeds to drastic temperature changes, especially with the late cool fronts our region is seeing this spring.
"One of the things I will do is urge growers to be patient with the planting. We always get in a hurry and soil temperatures are really critical for cotton and germination and emergence," Olivier said. "The other thing is if we can plant in to moisture instead of having to turn the pivots on and water cotton up, it's always better to plant into the moisture and not have a chance of chilling injury on the seed."
Cotton seed can be especially vulnerable when exposed to cold temperatures, either in the soil or through applied moisture.