Importance of Stormproof Cotton
Growing cotton in West Texas can be tough, with its dry conditions and sudden and wild weather changes. Many times, cotton fields that are ready for harvest can get harvested in a timely manner. Sometimes, however, unforeseen inclement weather such as rain, hail, sleet and early snow can cause cotton to sit in the field for days or weeks until it can be harvested.
Storm proofness, or the tightness of cotton in the burr, is an important consideration for a West Texas grower selecting varieties to plant. West Texas growers can experience significant yield losses from a single weather event. As cotton strings out of the boll, it becomes showier and can be more susceptible to wind, hail, sleet or rain that can pull that cotton fully out of the burr and put it on the ground. Once cotton is on the ground, it can no longer be harvested.
Check the Rating
Cotton staying tight in the burr during weather events described is important for West Texas growers. Many seed companies look at storm proofness from different perspectives. For the Deltapine® brand, we rate overall storm proofness of varieties using a string-out and fallout rating. There are products across all brands that may string out a little more but may never hit the ground. There are other cotton varieties on the market that may not be too showy, but when they get a weather event, the lint within bolls can fall to the ground. So, we look at it both ways — what is stringing out versus what is falling out — and between those two ratings, we develop what we call a “storm-proofness rating.”
The Deltapine brand rating system describes how our products within the cotton variety lineup, relative to each other, can withstand those outside growing conditions West Texas growers often face. Within the Deltapine brand lineup, there are DryTough™ dryland cotton varieties priced accordingly for the dryland and light-water acres, as well as more high-yield potential varieties for the high-end irrigated acres that have very good stormproof ratings.
Choose the Right Variety
The type of harvester used can also play a role. Some varieties can be too stormproof for a grower harvesting with a spindle picker. If lint is held too tight in that burr, sometimes a spindle picker can leave some of that lint in the field. For these reasons, when we make variety recommendations, it is important to know if a grower is harvesting with a stripper harvester or a picker.
And, of course, growing conditions at harvest can play a large role in how stormproof a variety will be. Sometimes even the most stormproof varieties, given a lot of wind, hail or sleet-type events, can still have harvest losses due to lint knocked to the ground.
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Performance may vary, from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields.
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