Dryland cotton promising in Oklahoma fields

Dryland cotton is the best J.C.Banks has seen in several years.

“In most areas, Oklahoma cotton has recovered from the wet soils and is going into fruiting in good shape,” says Banks, Oklahoma State University Agricultural Extension state cotton specialist at Altus.

“The dryland crop is the best I have seen in several years. We had a problem with aphids in some fields, but beneficial insects and the aphid fungus have reduced the problem with only a few fields needing to be sprayed. Irrigated cotton has had two or three irrigations and is at peak bloom and holding fruit well. The only problem we’ve seen this week is in some dryland fields on sandy soils that have not recovered fully from the wet soils earlier in the season.”

Banks says because of waterlogged soils, cotton in these fields developed a shallow root system with limited taproot development. When the soils started drying out, the only roots the plant had were in the quickly drying upper soil layer.

“The upper lateral roots are attempting to grow deeper, but growth will not be as deep as a root system with an active taproot,” Banks says.

“These plants will be at a disadvantage the rest of the season, especially if we have drying conditions. Fortunately, these spots normally show up in only a small part of the total acreage of the field.”

He’s fielding a lot of question about growth regulators.

“Since dryland cotton is growing so well, we have had questions on use of Pix (or ethephon-type growth regulators) on the crop. If the crop is well fruited and is not on extremely fertile soils, it will likely not need a growth regulator. The best growth regulator is a good fruit load. Carbohydrate demand by the developing bolls should keep vegetative growth under control.”

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