No-Tilling After Cotton

Look for this and other discussions among readers from our No-Till Farmer Web site:

One of the many discussions on the No-Till Farmer sponsored Web site Bulletin Board centers on what to do with leftover cotton stalks when you want to no-till a different crop, such as soybeans.

Like the no-tiller who had that question, no-tillers can discuss ideas and techniques 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at while sharing ideas with many fellow no-tillers.

Here’s the advice fellow no-tillers gave this Kansas farmer.

What Should I Do With Stalks?

Two years ago I no-tilled cotton into milo stubble and had an excellent stand. This past year I no-tilled cotton into existing cotton stalks, and had no problem in seeding or stripping the cotton crop.

This spring I want to no-till beans into this field. My question is, what do I do with the existing cotton stalks? If I leave them, I’ve heard of problems with damaged sickle sections in harvesting the following crop.

The stalks are tough, and I don’t know how long it would take them to decompose or start to break down. Maybe chopping them would be an alternative, but would the short stubble cause problems with the tires on my combine?

—Jim Coady

Leave Them Alone.

Leave the cotton stalks alone: They won’t bother the sickle sections after they dry and decompose for another 8 to 10 months.

Soybeans do not do very well following cotton as there isn’t enough surface residue to hold moisture and keep the soil cool. Spring wheat has worked quite well…

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