Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TOPGUARD Fungicide for Texas Cotton Gets Top Marks!

For the second year in a row, the Farmer I Kiss used TOPGUARD Fungicide when he planted our cotton.  You may have read my previous two blogs about TOPGUARD, Serendipity and No Fungus Among Us, where I have talked about the 100 year fight West Texas cotton farmers have had with cotton root rot.  The results that area farmers have gotten with TOPGUARD are amazing.  Fields of beautiful white cotton have replaced fields of white cotton mixed in with huge areas of black, dead cotton.  Here is a link to a great short video showing our neighbors and their success with TOPGUARD.  Click Here

Below are photos that show our farm that had TOPGUARD and a farm 1/2 mile away that did not have TOPGUARD applied.  The trees in the background of the neighboring farm are the trees around our barn, so you can see that the farms are very close to one another.  The results are very evident:
Our field of cotton with TOPGUARD back on 9/15/2013

Neighboring field and all the brown plants have died from Root Rot
Acres and Acres of cotton are affected

Why is there one plant that is unaffected?  No one knows that answer!

That's our barn in the background where our farm of Root Rot-Free cotton lies.  I would add that where the cotton did not die of root rot, this neighboring field produced very good cotton.

TOPGUARD is not without it's drawbacks.  Cotton is a tricky plant to get established each spring to say the least, and applying the new fungicide adds a new twist to that all important task.  The TOPGUARD has to be applied at exactly the right spot, so that when the seed sprouts, it can sprout through the fungicide and have it taken in by the cotton plant.  This way, the plant then protects it's self from the fungus that lives in the soil.

 Working out the specific details as to how you apply the TOPGUARD with each of the different types of planters is proving to be a very hot topic at the coffee shops and cotton gin offices.  Our friend, Marcus, shared some photos of his rigging:

These are a close up of the sprayer attached to a planter. 

The tricky part is planting while applying the TOPGUARD at exactly the right time.  A rain on the newly planted seed can cause it to seriously slow down sprouting and emerging by reducing the vigor of the seedling.  So watching the Weather Channel each night becomes very serious business during planting season.
Look closely and you will see that only one row of cotton is up.  This row had a nozzle that was not working and did not get TOPGUARD applied.  The other rows had working nozzles and it took several more days before they emerged.  Eventually all the cotton emerged and this field does not have any root rot.

We had a big, fast, hard falling three inch rain on one of our farms after we had planted with TOPGUARD and before the seed had sprouted.  This washed the loose soil in and packed the seed bed so tight that the tiny cotton plants could not push through so we had to replant. Along the outside of the field, we found plants trying to push through the crust where Daniel's planter missed a few inches, showing that the plants were not affected by the rain on the TOPGUARD.  We hope that tells us that we applied it at the right depth. 
These are some seedlings that were trying to push up through the hard crust that formed after the 3" rain.  This is why we had to replant the entire field, not because of any negative effects from the TOPGUARD.
 Once Daniel replanted, we got a perfect stand within 5 days of planting, and the end result shows that the TOPGUARD was still there and was taken up by the plants so that they were protected from the root rot fungus.
Replanted cotton just coming up next to a stand of older cotton that was planted earlier and came up prior to the big rain.

Perfect little cotton plants protected from the evils of Cotton Root Rot by TOPGUARD!!
 Many farmers are foregoing the cost and headaches of applying TOPGUARD and just living with the dead cotton in their fields.  Perhaps they are waiting until the farmers who are using the fungicide, like the one I Kiss, have worked out all the kinks.  I for one am happy to be standing on the turn row with the Farmer I Kiss, looking at beautiful fields of white cotton this year!