By Clint Thompson
Cotton and peanut plantings are well underway across the Southeast. Unfortunately with it being hot and dry, these are not ideal conditions as seed and plants are being put in the ground.
Wes Porter, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension precision agriculture and irrigation specialist, stresses the importance of maintaining moisture in the soil. Irrigation helps promote germination of the seed and provides enough moisture to help the plant get out of the ground and start growing.
“The problem is if we’re trying to plant right now, we’ve ran out of soil moisture or we will very soon. We’ve got very, very warm temperatures. We’ve had some windy conditions with lower humidity. If you’ve got irrigation, it’s probably time to think about pre-watering a little bit before you plant,” Porter said. “If you’ve already planted, I know that typically we say we don’t need a lot of water early on cotton and peanuts but when we’re looking at temperatures this high and looking at absolutely no soil moisture, we may want to hit those a time or two a week with about a half to three-quarters of an inch event.”
Upcoming Weather Forecast
According to weather.com, temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit early next week in Tifton, Georgia with little to zero rain forecast through the end of May. It’s the same forecast for Auburn, Alabama, though, high temperatures next week are predicted at 94 degrees.
Porter said producers can schedule irrigation events by applying either one-third to one-half of an inch twice per week or by applying one big application of three-quarters per week.
One concern is for dryland producers. Those farmers that don’t have access to irrigation may need to approach their plantings with a different strategy.
“We saw back in 2019, similar conditions to this when it got extremely hot in early May. Our better results were actually to plant a little bit deeper on the crops where there was still some soil moisture and the soil temperature changes were not as extreme,” Porter said.