Quick decision necessary on hail-damaged cotton

J. C. Banks, Oklahoma State University Extension cotton specialist, says patience provides the best tool for deciding whether to replant hail-damaged cotton.

“At this time of year, a good rule of thumb is if the decision is difficult to make, do not replant,” Banks says. “If the cotton can come back from the hail damage, yield potential is almost always greater than replanting.

“If most stems are severely damaged, look for new growth coming from the terminal in about three or four days following the injury. Severely damaged stems can be easily broken, just by shaking the plant. Minor stem damage will heal, and although the damage can be seen later in the season, it will not affect yield as much as replanting. If there are at least 17,000 surviving plants with new growth per acre, it is advisable to keep the stand.”

Banks says an early June hailstorm last year at the Tipton, Oklahoma, research station severely damaged cotton. “We replanted the dryland cotton, but saved three strips to compare yield. The cotton planted May 18 and damaged yielded an average of 553 pounds of lint per acre; the June 8 planted cotton yielded 544 pounds per acre.”

Some Oklahoma cotton areas received a mid-June rain but much of the area remains dry. “Some areas that received moisture also got high winds and hail, so quick decisions need to be made on replanting,” Banks says.

Jerry Goodson, OSU Extension agent says beneficial insects are providing some help to a stressed cotton crop. “During a difficult growing season it is nice to know some things actually are on a cotton grower's side,” Goodson says. “Ladybird or ladybug beetles are the most common beneficial insects.”

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