Cotton farmers have a new Internet-based tool to track heat units being accumulated by their cotton. The new Web site, www.CottonHeatUnits.com, provides a daily update of heat units in a growing season and compares the values with long-term climate norms.

The Web service also forecasts heat units for the next seven days, based on overnight updates to weather forecasts.

By selecting the date of planting and the nearest weather station, the Web service calculates heat units for each day since planting and also calculates a running total of heat units accumulated for the season. The heat unit calculations are based on degree days 60 (DD-60).

It also compares the heat units for the current season with long-term averages, enabling an evaluation with climatic norms. Long-term climate data is utilized from 65 locations across the Cotton Belt, with each location having daily temperature records for at least 30 years.

“Cotton farmers, and their advisors, often use weekly reports by state university Extension services as an information resource for tracking heat units,” says Robert Ratliff, creator of the Web service.

“By utilizing an online Web service that updates temperature and heat units overnight, farmers and their advisors now have a resource to check daily, rather than weekly. The addition of a seven-day forecast extends the information resource beyond just a review of the past, by adding a prediction of the future.

“Most farm chemicals used in cotton growth management have a range of application rates based on the growth stage of the crop, temperature experiences and forecasts, and other local growing conditions,” explains Ratliff.

“By reviewing past growing conditions and the forecast for the next seven days, the application rates and timing can be made based on a greater understanding of the current growing environment, resulting in greater performance from chemicals used as growth regulators, boll openers and leaf defoliants.”

For more information, go to www.CottonHeatUnits.com or contact Robert Ratliff at ProfitableFarming.com Corp., 102 Painted Fall Way, Cary, NC 27513-3526. The telephone is (919) 481-9309 or mobile (919) 414-7588. E-mail is RobertRatliff@ProfitableFarming.com.