Friday, May 28, 2010

What A Tool!

This is the exciting piece of equipment that I mentioned yesterday. I picked it up on my 3-day fertilizer mission this week. Any guesses what it is??? It's a table-top cotton gin. I have wanted one of these for some time, and at last my dreams came true. It is pretty old, but seemingly a very effective tool. You put some field cotton in the top, and a series of saws grabs the fibers and forces it through a roller. But the seeds are retained and fall out the bottom, here into this box. The ginned cotton is blown into a cage at the back. That is what I am holding in my left hand. It is really fluffy. (Fortunately I saved some cotton from Oklahoma last fall in anticipation of this hallowed event.) The plan is to have a means of determining fiber quality from test plots that we have established in several cotton growing locations. Additionally, if any sales personnel or growers have some plot comparisons, we can gin it here. Probably the major lab for fiber analysis is in Lubbock, Texas. And they don't gin it for you. So this has been a snag in some of our plot comparisons, but no more. Additionally, I suspect that the NCRS is now the largest operating cotton gin in the entire state of Michigan! I know I am humbled.
With all of the rain and cool weather we have had lately, we are advised to be on the lookout for head scab of wheat. I sprayed some Caramba on our wheat today. It was a great day for spraying. It is to be applied at anthesis, or flowering, and that is where we are according to the picture. I applied it at a spray volume of 15 gallons per acre at 50 psi for good coverage.

With crops coming up now, we will be on the lookout for fertilizer treatment differences. I hope to start showing some of this next week. In my absence this week, Stephanie took this picture from one of our corn plots. This picture is from a plot with very low soil K levels. On the left, no fertilizer was applied at planting, and on the right, the planter applied 3 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 9 gal/A of Sure-K + 2 qt/A of Micro 500 in the seed furrow through Rebounders. Quite a difference. We will also be taking tissue tests as well. Tissue tests can be both helpful and confusing. For example, last year in our phosphorus corn test, the phosphorus-fertilized corn had P tissue test levels similar to that of the no-phosphorus corn. Yet there was a big yield difference at harvest, and everything else was the same. But I still recommend tissue tests to provide a look inside the crop as an indicator of fertility needs.

I wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day. And use a thermometer and not a finger to see if the grill is hot.