Cotton Planting Conditions (May 11-15, 2020)

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cotton field

Planting conditions for producers this Spring have been less than ideal. Frequent rainfall coupled with cool temperatures has delayed or slowed farmers who are normally rearing to get seed into the ground. For cotton, planting date has a direct effect on development, maturity, and harvested yield. Suggested conditions for when to start planting include: (1) the soil temperature reaching 65°F by 10:00 a.m. in a 3-inch-deep, moist, prepared seedbed and (2) when warm, dry weather is predicted for the next five to seven days. Temperatures above 70°F results in rapid germination, whereas germination is very slow at temperatures below 60°F. The risk associated with planting in cold soils is exacerbated under wet conditions.

Soil temperature during the first five to ten days after planting has great influence in early season cotton health and development. To avoid injury to the seedling, it is advised to follow the table below that portrays planting conditions based on temperature for five day span following planting. DD-60’s is the relationship between cotton development and temperature. The equation for determining DD-60 is: (°F Max + °F Min Temp)/2 -60 = DD-60s

Relationship between predicted DD-60’s and planting conditions

Predicted DD-60 accumulation for 5 days following planting Planting conditions
10 or fewer Very poor
11 to 15 Marginal
16 to 25 Adequate
25 to 50 Very good
More than 50 Excellent
Avoid planting cotton if the low temperature is predicted to be below 50°F for either of the two nights following planting.

A great tool for forecasting favorable cotton planting conditions can be found at Cotton Planting and The Peanut/Cotton InfoNet.

Below is the five-day forecast for Hertford, NC for May 11-15.

Planting Date 5-Day DD60 Forecast DD60 Based planting forecast Comments
May 11, 2020 15 Marginal

Consider waiting on better conditions, or switching to large-seeded varieties with a high cool germ percentage (>65%), planting shallower (no more than 0.5 inches deep), hill-dropping, or slightly increasing seeding rate. Avoid planting into saturated soils prone to crusting.


May 12, 2020 25 Adequate  
May 13, 2020 35 Good Avoid planting cotton if the low temperature is predicted to be below 50°F for either of the two nights following planting.
May 14, 2020 50+ Excellent Rain forecasted for May 16, 17, and 18 for a total of 0.62”
May 15, 2020 50+ Excellent

Additional cotton information can be found at:

NC State Extension Cotton Portal

For any other questions, contact Dylan Lilley at 252-426-5428.