On June 2, Tunica, Miss., producer Justin Cariker found a white bloom in his early-planted cotton crop. By the end of the week, there were a few dozen more.
Needless to say, you don’t normally see cotton blooms that early this far north in the Delta. But then again, few springs were more generous than this year’s in terms of temperature and rainfall. Temperatures got into the 80s in early March. Pecan trees were budding out in late March. Johnsongrass was in the ditch banks. Fingers got itchy. Diesel fuel got burned.
“Tommy Walker, my farm manager, wanted to go and plant it,” said Cariker, explaining the decision to plant about 30 acres of cotton on March 25. “I thought it was too early. But we tried it. ”
It turned out to be a good decision even though Cariker had to search high and low for cotton seed. The months of March and April continued to pump out warm weather, and Cariker’s early-planted cotton was up in five days. “We haven’t had any problems with it. We sprayed it one time for thrips and two times for plant bugs. But it grew right through everything. It’s looking good. It’s loading up. We probably have 20 ounces of Pix on it already. It’s ready to layby. We could be picking it in August.”
Cariker waited until April 16 to start planting the rest of his cotton acres. Other crops went in early too. He planted corn starting March 20 and peanuts starting April 16.
“It’s very, very early to be blooming,” Mississippi Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds, said in early June, noting that producers had reported blooms from Greenwood, Miss., north prior to June 8. “Typically, we start seeing blooms the last week of June and the first week of July. So they’re almost a month ahead of the game.”
Dodds said most of the cotton producers in the state started planting around April 10 to April 15 and starting wrapping up by the end of April, which is still a very early start for the state. “We’re pretty far ahead of schedule.”