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Agronomic Crops > Crops Blog > Posts > Using Soil Temperature to Determine When Is It Time to Plant Cotton, Soybeans, and Peanuts in Alabama?

Three experts from Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System recently shared some advice on using soil temperature as a guide for planting cotton, soybeans, and peanuts in Alabama.  Their webinars were part of the March 14 session of the 2017 Alabama Agronomic Crops Webinar Series.

Dr. Trey Cutts recommends planting cotton when average soil temperature (4 inch soil depth) has been 65 degrees Fahrenheit  for 3 consecutive days and warm temperatures are forecast. Plant when you can expect 50 degree-days (base 60 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next 5 days.  The optimum cotton window usually extends ifrom April 15 to late May.  Planting earlier or later is risky but has advantages under certain circumstances.  Learn more by listening to his short presentation.



Kris Balkcom  provided advice on the best time to plant peanuts.  Soil temperatures are affected by air temperature, soil type, soil moisture, cover crops, and tillage.  He recommends planting peanuts only after the average soil temperature (4 inch soil depth) has been 68 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days and when there is an extended range forecast of consistent weather.   He discusses how to obtain soil temperature data, and provides the reasons for recent changes in peanut planting recommendations in his webinar.


Did you know that soybean seedlings can be permanently damaged if they are planted when soil temperatures are too cold?  Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the first 24 hours of germination cause the cell membranes in the seed to become leaky, resulting in chronicaly stunted seedlings.  Dr. Dennis Delaney explains that soybeans grow best between temperatures of 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  He recommends planting when soil temperatures (2 inch depth) are at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the morning.  Watch the extended weather to make sure there are no forecasts of cold fronts or cold rain, particularly in the first 24 hours after planting.  Learn more by listening to his webinar:


Webinars in the Alabama Agronomic Crops Series are presented live at 9 AM on the second Tuesday of each month.  A schedule for all the 2017 Webinars, connection information, and links to the recordings of previous webinars are posted on

Kathy Flanders


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