Owen Taylor, Editor
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A little more cotton in the lower Southeast is moving past the point that insects are a concern. But with this year’s late crop – especially where cotton followed small grains and/or planting was delayed by rain – stink bugs could pose a threat well into September. Some cotton in Georgia has been treated 3 and even 4 times for stink bugs this season, and a large part of the crop there has received at least one application.
Bollworms, so far, have not turned into a big issue in cotton, based on this week's reports.
Plant bugs are fading in more areas but have certainly left some damage in their wake.
Open bolls are evident on a wider basis this week in Florida, south Alabama and south Georgia.
Target spot hit hard in places this summer, but drier weather over the next 10 days should slow target spot development, according to Austin Hagan, Auburn University Plant Pathologist. Hagan posted that brief observation this morning on his Twitter feed. Hagan noted seeing that pattern in mid September last year.
Virginia's crop probably isn't as late as it might seem, according to Johnny Parker, Chief Agronomist at Commonwealth Gin in Windsor. In the previous three seasons, temperatures were above the long-term average, says Parker, which makes this year's crop seem later than usual. After reviewing DD60 accumulations, Parker wrote on the gin's web site this week that "we are slightly warmer than the 20-year average for Holland and slightly cooler for Capron." Connect to Parker's full report in our Links section for his observations about crop development and potential defoliation timing.
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David Butcher, NC Ag Service, Inc., Pantego, North Carolina: "Cotton is mostly on time, with just a little running behind. The differences mainly depend on how much rain fields got earlier. For us, overall, this is more like a normal year. Some fields have just started to cut out on the sandier places. Except for a few younger bolls on top, most bolls are hard.
“We had plant bugs earlier, but they’re fading now, and plants are to the stage that they couldn’t really hurt. We didn’t have very many stink bugs in cotton but did have some in soybeans. Moth activity and worm pressure in cotton has been light, just a worm or two now and then.”
Ames Herbert, Virginia Extension Entomologist: "We’re monitoring cotton for bollworms and stink bugs. I’m afraid stink bugs kind of slipped past at least a few growers this year, based on damage I’ve seen on some big bolls. It’s too late to do anything about that now. Plant bugs have been a problem in places, too, and I saw one field that was next to potatoes and was ruined by plant bugs that poured into the cotton when potatoes were harvested. We’re still not finding much bollworm pressure. Considering that we didn’t find much in the corn crop, that’s not surprising.
“Some fields are bronzing out on the edges. The low this morning (8/26) was 54 degrees, so we’re moving toward the end of this show. Skies are clear, and I go with the idea that it doesn’t necessarily take hot weather to mature out cotton as much as it does strong ultraviolet rays. We get plenty of those in the fall, which should move us toward defoliation. Except for defoliation, I think we’re pretty much done with cotton. By the time we get into September, we’re not too worried about cotton pests, and September starts next week.”
Jack Bacheler, North Carolina Extension Cotton Entomologist: "Things are settling down a fair amount as far as pests go in some of our earlier cotton, although we obviously still have late cotton that could be affected. We’ve gotten more sunny weather lately, which is pushing things along.
“In some areas we have had plant bugs on pretty much an ongoing basis, which is unusual. At this point, squares that might be damaged don’t have a chance of turning into harvestable bolls, anyway. Toward the latter part of last week I was still getting calls about stink bug damage in cotton, with some of it running in the 20% to 30% range. However, I think those were specific cases, and they don’t paint a picture for the whole state.
“Late trap counts for corn earworm remain amazingly low. Oddly, we still have cases where the sampled worms are running 85% to 100% tobacco budworms in some cotton and peanuts. However, that certainly isn’t the case in every field.”
Christy Hicks, Auburn University Regional Extension Agent, Opelika, Alabama: “Cotton is all over the board. Last week I was making estimates of potential yield loss due to the rain and was in one field that had just started blooming, but 2 miles down the road I could find bolls cracking.
“Early-planted cotton seems to be doing better. But where cotton was delayed and planted late, I just don’t think growers will have the time to finish the crop they should make. People with far more experience than I have keep saying they’ve never seen anything like this. If we keep getting sunny days like today (8/26) that will help. But we’re going through some cooler-than-average temperatures. It was 62 this morning at my house, and the forecast calls for 55 tonight at Auburn before we get into a better warmup later in the week. No pest pressure is being reported.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “We’ve had a run of dry weather, although there’s a chance for rain Thursday and Friday (8/29-30). We still have stink bug pressure where we haven’t sprayed, and plenty of them are out there. Bollworm trap counts are on the low side of the curve now, so we’re coming off the current flight. I’m finding a few large bollworms where I’m scouting plots. I can’t say whether we’ll have another peak before the end of the season, but I doubt it. Once we get past stink bugs, I think we can call it done.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: "Target spot continues to increase in parts of south Alabama, which has been a big concern for growers and consultants. As far as insects go, things are winding down in many cases. We’re still into stink bug control on later planted cotton, which has a ways to go. But in earlier fields. cotton is maturing out and will be safe soon as far as stink bugs are concerned. With the later cotton it could be another month before we can back away, depending on whether the weather is suitable for carrying more of this late crop to harvestable bolls.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia: “It’s still wet. It hasn’t rained today (8/26), just sprinkled around, but we got 5 to 12 inches last week. I poured out 8.5 inches at my house. Just about everything started greening up when we did catch a break from the weather, but now we’ve been set back again. The forecast right now is at least good, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve got as much moisture in the air. Maybe we’ll get a break.
“The earlier cotton is finishing up. We’ve got 2 scenarios in those fields. In the best case, growers were able to get fertilizer out early and plants took advantage of it. In the second scenario, cotton was planted early but growers couldn’t get fertilizer out, then got delayed by all the rain and had to apply fertilizer late. That cotton cut out and is regrowing now. It actually looks like drought cotton.
“Some cotton planted later looks good and turned around before this last round of rain. It’s hard to say how some of it will progress from this point. Normally, we’d be supplementing cotton with more fertilizer, based on rainfall amounts, but this year with all the setbacks and as late as it is, I think we’ll let it ride.
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“A lot of rain came fast and got off pretty quick, and we’re hoping the outcome won’t be as bad in some cases as you would expect. What makes all this even worse is that we had a great crop last year, just tremendous yields. Some growers keep thinking that they can duplicate that, but we can’t spend another $300 an acre and expect to pick what we did last year. We’ve got to survive.
“Let me emphasize that we still have some good looking peanuts and some good looking cotton, but not on the scale of 2012. With so many washouts, low spots and ends of fields gone, we will have some areas zeroed out, at least 15% of our acreage. I was on one large farm last week that’s pretty representative of my area and probably 20% was gone.”
Mace Bauer, Extension Agent, Columbia County, Florida: “Last week we got another 5 inches of rain, maybe up to 8 in places. Our soils can handle it, and we seem to be in good shape. Stink bugs are being treated in some cotton behind wheat, but most of our crop is wrapping up. Cotton has pretty much cut out, and we’ve got a lot of bolls opening in early-planted fields.”
Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama: “I’ve seen some open bolls – a pretty good number in the last couple of days – and that made me feel pretty good. The end is near. Stink bugs finally reached the point that we sprayed a few fields, but they’ve been pretty light, overall. We can find damage in certain fields but nothing at all in other places. I’ve actually found a few whiteflies in some cotton planted in mid June. It’s nothing I would even think about spraying, but it’s unusual to find any.
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“The rain has slacked up, and we’re hoping things will dry up a little. At this point it will be late September before we defoliate our earliest field. The bloom is still good. We do have bolls in the top of some plants but also have a lot of cotton that’s still making.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia: "We’re spraying stink bugs in cotton, and that’s it. Numbers are up and down, but most fields are getting sprayed. We have some high-pressure areas – not everywhere but certainly a lot of sprayable situations. We’re into the third treatment in certain areas, and I’ve heard about four treatments in some fields.
“If we treat a field three times, that’s considered a heavy spray year for us. The boll is susceptible to stink bugs until 25 days of age, and we’ll have plenty of late cotton and will need to check it. We've got fields that will likely require protection through the month of September. Some of our earliest cotton is starting to finish up and is reaching the point where stink bugs won’t be a concern. But that’s just a few acres right now.
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“Some cotton is starting to open. Planting dates had a huge effect this year. You can see drowned out fields and just across the road a pretty nice field. Some of this cotton will need a really good fall to finish out an average crop, and some fields won’t be harvested.”
Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee: “We’ve thrown a couple of big shots of Pix at the cotton and have the plant stiffened up now. It’s no longer trying to grow nodes and is growing and finishing bolls now.
“We’re growing our middle and top crop. We don’t have a bottom crop because of all the wet weather complicating plant bug applications. It doesn’t make any difference that we lost that part of the crop because bottom bolls would have all rotted anyway. We’ve gotten around 10 inches of rain in August, which is very unusual.
“Normally, cotton would accumulate about 23 heat units a day right now, but here at the end of August we’re adding 16 or 17 a day, and we need them all. That’s still a good rate. Normally, August weather would be melting us down, but this year we’d actually welcome more sunshine. With the boll load on cotton now we’ll start seeing the ‘yield lean’ next week where bolls start pulling the crop over. That’s a good sign. We’re just about past insect issues in cotton.”
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