VERNON — A cotton seeding rate study at two Rolling Plains sites by scientists of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Agricultural Extension Service has shown area producers how they can cut costs and even improve their yield.
The study, funded through a grant from Cotton Inc., was conducted at Vernon and at the Munday Station in Knox County. Seeding rates of one-, three- and six-seed per foot of row were used.
“Even under the hot, dry conditions experienced in the two-year study, we showed lower seeding rates have had as high or higher yield than the commonly used ones,” said Emory Boring Extension Service entomologist. “In essence, you’re cutting seeding rate in half, saving at least $5 per acre, and having a better yield.”
This year, Boring described those results in meetings with producers. “We’ve had several farmers reduce their seeding rates, especially with the late planting,” he said. The specialists are saying that a higher seeding rate may be needed only if planting early. Once farmers get into a late planting situation, seeding rates can be cut by about 10 to 15 percent..
For some, the crop still looks too light when it comes up. Boring calls this the “green rope” syndrome. Looking down those rows, it is easy to imagine a green rope laying out there, he said However, dryland cotton comes under drought stress during most years, Boring said, and that’s when the economic benefits of reduced seeding become significant.
From a weevil standpoint, the entomologist showed the potential for loading the plant with bolls early in the season, which reduced the number of plants coming back to produce a late crop.
“A cotton plant that doesn’t produce a boll is a weed. A plant that doesn’t produce a boll, then comes back at the end of the season to produce fruit to feed the boll weevil is worse than a weed,” he concluded. ” That’s what we’re trying to get away from.”