“Farmers in south Texas are also looking at Pima cotton. Some new varieties look really good.”

Baugh said climate remains the number one yield limiting factor for High Plains cotton producers. “If we get one to 2 inches of rain in July and August, we usually make high yields,” he said.

Variety selection is the second most important factor, Baugh said. “We have new ones coming, but farmers tend to base variety decisions on too little information, especially regarding nematode and Verticillium wilt tolerance. Losing Temik will be a factor,” he said.

He cautioned farmers to keep track of nematode infestations.

Baugh said farmers too often base fertility decisions on the price of fertilizer. “It should be based on field need. Dryland fields last year that had been fertilized for the first time in five years made two bales per acre.”

He also recommended growers take deeper samples, 18 inches to 24 inches. “We can sustain yields with deep nitrogen.”

He said fertilizer application timing also makes a difference, especially in an area where rainfall can leach away nutrients applied early. “Apply one-third of the recommended amount in March or April and the rest before full bloom.”

Baugh said zinc levels fell last year following heavy summer rains and recent samples “have still been low.”

Baugh said High Plains cotton farmers spend more money on thrips control than on any other insect. “Again, losing Temik hurts. We get 14 to 18 days control with seed treatments.”

He said bollworm resistance in Bt cotton is “a concern for High Plains cotton farmers.”

Hydrick said variable rate fertilizer application is a practice than can make money “for the grower, the consultant and the dealer. We can reduce cost and increase yield.”

He said 2010 cotton yields in Arkansas were “well above average. ST5458 and DPL 0912 were the top producers. We also had a rain free harvest and no bollrot.”

“We have a lot of questions for 2011.”

McLawhorn said the 2010 cotton crop in North Carolina was “better than average with good grades. The very late varieties did well.”

Temik continues to play an important role in insect control, especially for thrips, he said. “It’s been a lot more profitable to use than seed treatments.”

Worm pressure was also “higher than ever,” he said.

McLawhorn anticipates precision agriculture will play an increasingly important role in crop production. “Advantages include accurate delivery and accurate rate,” he said. “It is an excellent tool if used thoughtfully.

“Downside includes problems associated with poor sampling and interpolation which can cause uniformity problems. Potassium deficiency or over or under liming are also concerns. We also need a better understanding of variable rate nitrogen application.

“We need to see more widespread use of yield monitors,” he said.

McLawhorn said farmers need “more proven varieties for the Ignite system and more data on varieties before widespread use.”