Cotton Journal

Cotton ( Chris Bennett )

Keep It Clean

The National Cotton Council (NCC) is urging producers and ginners to make seed cotton/lint contamination prevention a high priority. “This industry has worked for decades to build a reputation as a reliable supplier of contamination-free cotton, but recent occurrences of contamination, unfortunately, are jeopardizing that reputation, and it has economic consequences throughout the supply chain and for our textile customers,” says Gary Adams, NCC president.

In response to the problem, the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service Cotton and Tobacco Program has implemented two new extraneous matter codes for samples containing plastic contaminants. To help farmers address the issue, NCC has developed an educational video on plastic contamination prevention. The video and more resources are available at

Root Out Pigweed

If there’s a most-wanted weed cotton farmers want to destroy it’s more than likely glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, more commonly called pigweed.

“Palmer amaranth is always a great challenge, and when the weed management program can’t be implemented in a timely fashion, the weed is even more problematic,” says Stanley Culpepper, a University of Georgia Extension weed specialist, in a news release. His recommendations for 2019:

  • Plant in pigweed-free fields.
  • Apply two pre-emergence herbicides with active ingredients effective on Palmer amaranth.
  • Apply sequential postemergence applications.
  • Conduct a directed layby application.

Growers must also understand the time intervals between two sequential postemergence applications are critical for optimum results, Culpepper says.

While herbicide applications are important in pigweed management, they can also be damaging to the crop and the producer's pocketbook if they’re not correctly applied. University of Georgia  Extension research shows it’s best to avoid potential herbicide damage to cotton past the eight-leaf stage.

More information is available at

Reassess Planting Populations

Cotton farmers looking to reduce input costs in 2019 should take a hard look at their planting populations, according to a recent study by Texas A&M AgriLife research.

Analysis of data from a field trial and science-based literature shows the “minimum plant population for optimizing yield with evenly spaced plants is surprisingly low,” said Curtis Adams, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research crop physiologist based in Vernon, Texas.

“We identified a plant population threshold of about 15,000 plants per acre, which is a final density of about 1.1 plants per foot on 40" rows,” he said in a Texas A&M AgriLife article. “The research also showed yield will decline quickly below 15,000 plants per acre.

He said the most common seeding rate recommendation they found for cotton around the country was 33,000 plants per acre, which is 2.5 plants per foot on 40" rows.

However, Texas producers often plant at densities of 50,000 plants per acre or greater, Adams said. High seeding rates are often used to improve stand establishment.

“In light of our research results, if a producer wants to reduce their seeding rate to lower their production costs, they should consider the soil and environmental conditions they are dealing with on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

“If a producer typically loses about 20% of his seeds in a given situation, and now knows yield is expected to be stable at a lower population, this will help him dial in his rate better and still maintain his production and reduce his overall costs by buying less seed,” Adams added.