Weather conditions now are nearly opposite of last year’s conditions as we were waiting for dry weather to plant. We are now in need for rain. Last year, Easter was April 20th. Easter has now past and it is warm. With warmer soil temperatures, many are asking if we can go ahead and plant.
For cotton, we need to have 65 degree soil temperature for 3 days and future warming conditions projected. For peanuts, we want 68 degree soil temperature. We are seeing warmer soil temperatures now, but we need to be aware of other early planting risks.
We struggled with thrips last season. Thrips live on field edges and along roadsides in weeds during the winter. When plants emerge, they move to our fields. If we are planting before May 10th, we know we will have an increase risk of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in peanuts. Irrigated cotton should usually be planted after May 1, since the risk of having adequate moisture is eliminated, thrips pressure is less, and the possibility of boll rot from August rains is reduced. Boll opening and harvest-time rainfall risks are reduced and harvest can be completed from late September through November, normally lower rainfall.
We were looking at planting date curves from different crops. Below is a graph UGA Extension Agronomist Dr. Scott Tubbs showed at our peanut meeting. Our largest yield window is late April through mid-May.
We also have a graph from UGA Extension Cotton/Soybean Agronomst Dr. Jared Whitaker on soybean yield with planting dates. For cotton, long term research has shown little yield difference in planting dates between late April and May 20th. We can show a yield loss in soybeans, because soybeans are a determinate plant. The plant must have a full vegetative set before it can produce fruit. Cotton is indeterminate, meaning it produces vegetative and reproductive growth at the same time. Remember to follow the Georgia Weather website for planting information.