What is in this article?:
- Despite planting late, Mattson Farms had an incredible 2013 cotton year. Weather, fertility, irrigation, rotation, insect control, and fortune all lined up for booming cotton yields.
In 2012, Mattson Farms, Mattson, Miss., had its best cotton crop ever, averaging 2.8 bales per acre. But that was then and 3.5 bales per acre is now. Brothers Scott, left, and Graydon Flowers say good weather, hard work, and a fine Mattson crew are responsible.
Aggressive weed fight
On top of balanced fertility and little shed, Mattson had a fine water year, in part due to excellent irrigation work. In a standard weather year, no matter how sharp the crew, heat sucks away a tremendous amount of moisture and some field sections are neglected — but not so in 2013. “This year the weather bought us time. We try not to spread our guys too thin and they work hard on irrigation, but usually we can’t get around quick enough. You could get out in the fields and every area looked the same because milder temperatures helped retain moisture and in turn made our irrigation more efficient.”
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The Mattson fields were high in soil balance and moisture — but significantly low in weeds and possibly the cleanest Scott has seen in his 10 years of sharing the helm. Aggression wins battles in weed wars and beginning the growing season clean — with pre-emerge action and a mix of chemistries — is vital. “I believe Roundup-resistant weeds are making us better farmers because we had gotten so complacent and it was too easy to spray Roundup. Now we’re very aggressive and don’t play around with pigweeds, or other weeds, and it’s working. If you’ll go ahead and kill them at planting with a pre-emerge like Gramoxone and then put another pre-emerge out, you’ll have a huge advantage.
“Starting clean and maintaining good weed control means you have to spend more money, but when you ride around the fields you won’t see hardly anything sticking up above the cotton and it makes a tremendous difference. When I first started I was trying to save so much money and we let some weed escapes go which is not that bad in the short-term since you can hit them the next year. But the reality is, if you let pigweed get a hold on your land, it makes so much seed that you can’t afford not to be aggressive.”
For photos of Mattson's crew, see Mattson Farms hits banner cotton yields
Weeds weren’t the only crop-killer missing from the Mattson fields; insects were also low in number. A good deal of Mattson cotton rubs against corn, and plant bugs usually march into cotton through the corn corridors. As a measure of plant bug compensation, Mattson uses a five-day insecticide spraying program for a month and a half during the growing season and hits plant bugs hard — not whole fields, just the corridors extending from corn into cotton at a distance of approximately 100 to 200 feet.