Questioning Slow Cotton Emergence

Emergence

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Monitoring emergence is important because it can be a signal of a problem if cotton is not emerging on schedule. For almost all varieties it takes about 50 DD60s from planting to emergence. The actual time of emergence can be defined in a number of different ways, but the day you can first “row65533;? the cotton is a good guideline. “Rowing65533;? the cotton refers to the time you can look down the seedbed and see a row of cotton without too much difficulty. It also corresponds very closely to the time at which there is enough of a stand that you would not consider replanting.

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Uniform emergence is an important part of establishing uniform yields.

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If a cotton field does not begin emerging after 50 to 60 DD60s, the cause of the problem should be investigated. There are many reasons why a field fails to emerge on schedule, but planting too deep or into inadequate or excess moisture are common reasons. The following questions are designed to help in troubleshooting.

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Questioning Slow Emergence

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Temperature

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  • Is the temperature in the field the same as at the thermometer? – If not, you may have an incorrect estimate of DD60s.
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  • Did the soil temperature at the seed depth fall below 50°F? – If so, your crop may have sustained chilling injury.
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Seed Depth

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  • Check the depth of the seed.
 Seeds planted deeper than 2 inches may be unable to emerge.
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Moisture

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  • Under what moisture conditions has the field been since planting? – The soil in the area adjacent to the seed needs to remain moist. Saturated soils will often prevent emergence, as will drought.
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  • Has a crust formed? – Crusting of the soil surface can prevent seedling emergence. If the problem is severe, cultivation and possible replanting may be necessary.
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Pests

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  • Are there disease or insect pests preventing the crop from emerging on schedule? – Seed rot can prevent germination or emergence and seedling disease can kill young plants as they emerge. Early-season insects can prevent emergence or damage seedlings as they emerge. Treat with the recommended product for your area.
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Chemical Inhibitors

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  • Is there a herbicide problem from last year or earlier this year? 
– Monitoring herbicide use during the season and from season-to-season is critical. Elevated herbicide rates can prevent cotton emergence.
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  • Is there some other residual soil chemical (for example, starter fertilizer or salts) causing a problem? – Salts and excess fertilizer can have negative effects on emergence.
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This article is from the Cotton Management Guide, a publication with year-round advice on managing high-yielding cotton. Download the Deltapine Cotton Management Guide now or sign up for new content to be delivered to your email each month.​​​

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Click here to learn about cotton plant populations.​