The perfect time for planting dryland cotton

08 November, 2015


The recent rainfall throughout Northern NSW and Southern Queenland has not been good for winter crop harvest but, presents the perfect timing for planting dryland cotton.

For most regions (except short season areas) planting dryland cotton in mid November allows the crop to reach peak flower in February when temperatures are generally more mild. This improves water use efficiency.

This contrasts with November planted sorghum. When planted in mid November sorghum will generally flower in early to mid January. Accelerated water use and the risk of pollen blasting increase significantly. For this reason agronomists normally suggest planting sorghum early or waiting until late November or early December.

One of the downsides of planting cotton in November can be the rapid loss of planting moisture. As temperatures and day length increase it is important to carefully monitor planting moisture and adjust the planting depth regularly. Although warmer soil temperatures do allow slightly deeper planting don’t be tempted exceed the recommended planting depth. If necessary use trash whipers to remove some surface soil.

To minimise the cracking and drying effect after planting into very moist heavy clay soils consider using chains to drag a layer dry soil over the plant line.

Finally if you have a large area to plant consider getting a contractor to help you get the crop in the ground in a timely manner.