Cotton Monitoring in Practice: Where Do We Go from Here?

Thomas A. Kerby


Plant monitoring (plant mapping) has been a buzz word in recent years. There are far more people that know how to collect the information than know how to interpret the data. To be able to do so requires a data base to provides a reference point followed with personal experience. In some ways, research, extension, and industry has failed in teaching monitoring because too much of the focus has been on how to collect the data, and very little on how to use the data. There are some individuals through the years who are infatuated with the cotton plant. They are the ones who have learned how the plant responds to its environment. Monitoring has the capability to help us make the best possible decisions during the year, but also to let us learn from our experience. Someone has said, experience is a great teacher, it allows you to recognize when your make the same mistake again. We will be a more profitable industry if we learn improved management techniques from our experience. To be able to do so requires that all those working to develop information, which we as growers hope to use, to place the cotton plant at the center. We need to know how the treatment affected the plant, not just only how yield was affected. Once we understand how management decisions affect the plant, we can get a picture of the plants condition (in season plant maps) and know what adjustments to make. My experience has been this can not be taught from a book, but can easily be taught in the field. There is a certain learning curve that we must get on before we see and understand how the things we can measure reveal the plants needs and limitations. You do not have to be a Ph.D. to be able to understand it, you just have to spend some time getting acquainted with the plant.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1994 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 201 - 202
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998