Planting

Check soil moisture

When planting, its important to check soil moisture levels in the seed zone regularly. There are three options: planting dry and watering up (cools the soil and crop establishment is rapid); pre-irrigation (may be preferred when the soil is very dry and temperatures are high, and when there's a large seed bank of difficult to control weeds); or planting on rain moisture (done by dryland growers; many irrigators also aim to do this to save water).

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Planting and establishment

To optimise yield, plants should be evenly spaced from 5-13 plants per metre. The ideal planting time varies between seasons and districts: ideal soil temperatures for crop establishment are 16-28 degrees C. Growers should also consider soil bed condition, soil insects, seedling diseases, allelopathy, previous herbicide usage and planting depth. Importantly, growers growing Bollgard II cotton need to plant within the planting window for their district.

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Establish a refuge

It is a requirement under the Bollgard II resistance management plan for growers to establish a refuge. The aim of the refuge is to generate significant numbers of susceptible months that have not been exposed to the Bt proteins in Bollgard II. Moths produced in the refuge will desperse to form part of the local mating population, where they may mate with any resistant moths emerging from Bollgard II crops, delaying the development of resistance.

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Survey for disease symptoms

Soil pathogens such as rhizoctonia, pythium, black root rot and Fusariam can retard and kill young plants during and after emergence. This is increasinly prevalent outside of the ideal soil temperatures for soil establishment (16-28 degrees C), where there are high levels of cotton crop residues and in-fields with a history of disease.

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Nail your crop nutrition

Getting your crop nutrition spot on is essential for maximising cotton yield. Too little nutrition will reduce the crops' yield potential, while too much fertiliser can impact your profitability through increased costs, contamination of groundwater, excessive vegetative growth in the crop, and related insect, disease and harvest problems. Careful monitoring and management of nutrient levels is important to ensure yield potential is reached, without inefficient fertiliser application. 

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