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 experienced this growing season and compares these 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 units calculations are based on Degree Days 60 (DD-60).

It also compares the heat units for this season with long-term averages, enabling an evaluation of this season 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.”

The Web site also displays animated radar, satellite images, seven day narrative and graphic forecasts, rainfall histories and forecasts, plus charts of forecasted temperatures, relative humidity, wind speed and other weather forecast data.

The heat units calculator is also available from cell phones with Internet access by keying the Web address 216.150.3.82 on the cell phone keypad. Due to the small display size of a cell phone, temperatures and heat units are limited to the past seven days and the next seven days.

It is suggested the computer version be utilized first for a comprehensive understanding of heat units being accumulated. Thereafter, the cell phone version can be utilized when access to a computer is not convenient, such as decision making in the field.

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

Beginning with the 2007 harvest season, John Deere Agri Services' ExtendAg Chemical Compliance service can use near real-time label data from Agrian to verify that agricultural food products clear crop protection application restrictions before entering the supply chain.

ExtendAg Web-based software plays a key role in enhancing food safety and traceability for John Deere Agri Services customers. With up-to-date label data from Agrian, fruit and vegetable packers and processors can confidently mitigate risks associated with food safety.

New enhancements include automated Agrian updates to the ExtendAg System and a user alert notification feature. “The integrated traceability of our ExtendAg System gives customers a fast and easy way to check the compliance of their inbound product and provides both packers, processors, and their growers up-to-the-minute data on their harvested crops,” said Scott Turner, ExtendAg national account manager.

ExtendAg users can use the default label restrictions from Agrian or specify more stringent requirements for specific marketing programs or specialty product requirements, such as organics.

John Deere Agri Services has more than 15 years experience providing business solutions to the fruit and vegetable industry. Founded in 2004, Agrian, based in Fresno, Calif., provides a series of essential liability mitigation, risk management, recordkeeping, and reporting applications to field level users.

In the course of providing these services, Agrian collects field data and, with the consent of field level users, provides this data to the agri-food supply chain.