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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Winds help dry soils after rain

Sunday, May 2, 2010

(Photo)
Mike Milam
According to the Missouri Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending April, 25 we are about where we were last year. We are two days ahead of last year but about 2 days behind normal. A look back at last season, we had a good start, but the rains set in. We were behind all planting season and the crop did not catch up with our heat units until late in the season.

Rice planting is at 84 percent which is a full month ahead of last year and 22 days ahead of normal. Emergence is 11 days ahead of last year and 8 days ahead of normal.

State wide, our winter wheat is not doing very well. The Missouri average for wheat condition was 11 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 31 percent good and 5 percent excellent. The 27 percent in the combined very poor and poor categories compares with 8 percent last season. Our Southeast region had only 14 percent in the poor category. In some areas of the state, producers are plowing up thin wheat stands and replanting to row crops.

My concern for this season is that the night and air temperatures have been cool. As I have mentioned, planting and getting the cotton up is best done under warmer conditions so that the roots will develop and the seedlings will emerge quickly after planting. One of the most important problems with cold wet soils is the potential for chilling injury. This is not a problem for rice and corn, but cotton is a semi-tropical plants.

I have been looking at the soil temperatures and have seen something that I am not used to seeing at this time of year. On the 28th at the Cardwell weather station, the low soil temperature was 49.2 degrees. The bare soil temperature at both the Glennonville and Clarkton stations were slightly above 50 degrees.

I had learned about chilling injury from the book, ?Cotton Physiology?, published as part of the Cotton Foundation?s Reference book series. This was published in 1986 and the Editors were Jack Mauney and James McD. Stewart. The soil temperature is generally lower than the air temperature but is less prone to the rapid fluctuations. In the chapter related to root growth, the optimum soil temperature for root growth and development was from 85 to 95 degrees. This is a condition that is almost never met during our planting season. However, when our soil temperatures are between 60 to 65 degrees, we generally feel the conditions favor good seedling development. After all the DD-60 or heat unit model begins accumulating heat units at 60 degrees.

In 1963, M. N. Christiansen at the Delta Branch Experiment Station located at Stoneville, Mississippi found that chilling injury can occur at 50 degrees. This study was published in Plant Physiology. He found that the cortex of the developing seedling root would slough off and leave the root vulnerable to seedling disease. He also observed that the chilling injury in cotton affected the growth rate of the seedling. In other words, it is best to wait for warmer soil temperatures. I have seen seedlings that we suspected had been damaged because the root system was damaged and the main root had an s-shaped growth pattern. It was obvious that something had changed the straight growth of the root.

One this that might lessen this phenomenon is that the seed that are sold today have been tested at colder temperatures to get a better understanding of the seedling vigor. Also, the seed treatments available today are vastly superior to that available back in 1963.

While the rain slowed down all field activities, the main factor in getting back into the field has been the windy conditions. Both cool and warm winds can dry out the soil. I was out yesterday and I saw several conservation tillage fields being planted to cotton. With the improved temperatures and a better forecast, several producers were taking advantage of the climatic conditions. Conservation tilled fields are firmer and there is less soil disturbance. Plus, the wheat strips will reduce the wind impact on the emerging seedlings.

The only blowing sand that I have seen this year has been due to tractors disturbing the soil prior to the rains. We had been warmer and drier than last year. I have seen several reports that attribute problems with allergies to be worse this season due to more trees and vegetation blooming and having a greater pollen load.

I was surprised to get e-mails and phone calls from journalists asking about delayed planting. They had gotten reports out of Louisiana and other Southern states regarding their problems with getting the crops planted. I replied that we were actually in good shape and that most producers were hoping for some rainfall to settle the dust and to have enough moisture for planting. We learned last year that the wet soils delayed planting. We had cooler condition until toward the end of the growing season, and we probably lost about 200 pounds of lint due to the rainfall and wind during the harvest season.

One factor that might affect planting in our area is the seep water around both the Mississippi and St. Francis River levees. This seep water played havoc with several fields last year and some were not planed at all.

We can hope for a better planting and growth and development condition for this season. Last year will be in the minds of producers for a long time.

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