Cotton growers face defoliation decision with challenging market prices
By John McLemore, County Extension Agent
On Wednesday August 28, 2019, I had a cotton defoliation meeting at the Weir Center in Douglas. Dr. Jared Whitaker, UGA Extension Cotton Agronomist spoke to cotton grower in Coffee and Atkinson County about effective cotton defoliation strategies. The increase in cotton production input cost coupled with a decrease in market price effective cotton defoliation strategies is a must for cotton producers this year.
Effective cotton defoliation is dependent upon timing, products, application method and quality. Size of cotton acres determines cotton defoliation timing. Cotton defoliation should occur four nodes or less above cracked boll. This indicates 60 to 75 percent open bolls. In Georgia, timing is a huge issue earlier than we typically think. Defoliation product selection is based on crop condition, environment, desired effects, price, picker, etc.
Often combinations of defoliants provide more consistent results. No on harvest aid or tank-mix appropriates for every situation. Optimal rate is difficult to predict without crop examination every situation is different. Dr. Whitaker suggested during the cotton defoliation meeting, "Growers use 20 to 30 gallons of water per acres with a three-way tank-mix. Based on his research, he believes 20 to 30 gallons of water per acres is ideal especially when he expects growers to reduce rates due to the market.