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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cotton and Soil Planting Temperatures

               Today we are experiencing record high temperatures in the Plainview area, in the low 90’s.  With such warm weather, it can be difficult to fight the urge to head to the field with the planter.  Most cotton producers seem to be holding off with another blast of cold air and one more chance for some snow on the way later this week. 

                Cotton gets off to its best start when planted in a recommended 68°F consistent temperature soil (roughly 64°F bare minimum).  This spring the soil temperature has followed the trends of the air temperature fairly closely.  Higher moisture content in the soil usually slows the soil’s response to air temperatures, but that just is not the case today.  The best time to take your soil temperature is between 7 AM and 10 AM.  That early morning period is when the soil temperature should be at its lowest, guaranteeing that the soil will remain consistently at that minimum temperature. 

                Out of curiosity, and to answer several producer presented questions, I took some soil temperature readings in several locations during the heat of the day today.  Please keep in mind that these readings are during the heat of the day, and another cold front is expected soon.  Temperatures will not rebound to these levels until several days following the eventual return of warm weather.

-          66°F.  Two miles southwest of Hale Center, Texas.  Potential cotton field / plowed / very dry topsoil / under a pivot.

-          63°F.   Two miles southwest of Hale Center, Texas.  Current wheat field / recently irrigated under a pivot.

-          69°F.  One mile east of Edmonson, Texas.  Potential cotton field / plowed / pre-watered / dry topsoil / furrow irrigated.

-          66°F.  Two miles east of Edmonson, Texas.  Potential cotton field / no-till (2012 cotton ground) / pre-watered / moist topsoil / under pivot.


By my best estimation, sometime between May 8th and May 12th should be near ideal soil temperatures for planting cotton.  Please feel free to call if I can be of any assistance.


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