Here is this week's AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by FMC Corporation and its Southern field staff.
More cotton has been lost to sandblasting in the upper Delta since Saturday. No firm estimates on the amount of acreage affected. We’re hearing reports of damage from Arkansas, southeast Missouri and north Mississippi. Some cotton, already replanted once this season, may have been taken out again. Corn was laid over in some areas as far south as Starkville, Mississippi. We also heard reports of grain bins and at least one pivot toppling over in northeast Arkansas.
Drought persists on a wide basis, despite rains over the last several days. Thunderstorms will help where they fell, but the region mostly remains dry and is getting drier. Cotton irrigation has started on more fields, and growers feel forced in many cases to run water on cotton that normally would be considered too small for furrow irrigation. See related comments from Darrin Dodds.
Plant bug numbers continue increasing, and treatments are being made this week on a wider basis and farther north. More acreage has received its second shot. See comments from Gus Lorenz and Angus Catchot, among others.
Spider mites are being treated in more areas this week, too, and some fields also have had a second application.
Cotton aphids are being treated in more fields in Louisiana. No reports of aphid fungus and related crashing.
Pest pressure continues mounting across several crops. We’re hearing about heavy colaspis beetle and alfalfa hopper numbers in soybeans. Jeff Gore, Mississippi Research Entomologist working in rice, told us Wednesday morning that a graduate student was finding rice stink bug numbers in wild hosts that were 10X the numbers found last year. “Last week he was averaging over 100 stink bugs per 10 sweeps in wild grasses,” Gore reported. “He is collecting high numbers on all grasses that are heading as well as in pigweed that is flowering.” We'll have more about that in this week's RiceFax.
Roundup-resistant pigweed is alive and well. Multiple herbicide applications to fight the weed, combined with erratic weather, have injured cotton in parts of our coverage area. The learning curve on this problem is still mostly ahead of us.
Terry Erwin, Morehouse Parish Extension Agent, Bastrop, La.: "We’re making some plant bug sprays, but I’m not aware of any aphid or mite pressure that requires treatment like folks are reporting south of us. Thrips are phasing out. We’re in an extreme drought now. Our cotton is still young and growing, and it likes this hot weather. But it will need irrigation shortly, and some growers already have started watering. Plants are just starting to square good, so you know we’ve got a lot of late-season cotton this year. We really haven’t had a rain since early May, and even that wasn’t a big rain.”
Charles Denver, Denver Crop Consulting, Watson, Ark.: "Plant bugs are out there. Thrips are tailing back, but you still can find a lot of them on younger cotton. Most of our cotton is up to 8 to 9 nodes and developing pretty good squares. We’ve also got some later cotton, down to 3 to 4 leaves. We haven’t done a lot of irrigation in cotton yet. Cotton is still growing. It rained around an inch at Pine Bluff on Saturday night (6/11), with 7 to 8 tenths down to Gould, but nothing much fell south of there.”
Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Miss.: “I’m driving through rain in Chickasaw County (afternoon, 6/13), and we’ve got severe thunderstorm warnings up this way. We need the rain. In cotton, we started picking up plant bugs at the end of last week. Numbers are spotty but high in places, even in the same field. We count per 25 sweeps and as we move through a field we might have a zero, a zero, then a 6 and then a couple of more zeroes, followed by a 5. Averaged out, we’re finding some fields at threshold, but there will be places where we can’t find a single plant bug in one of those fields. It’s a little quirky. We’re past thrips on 90% of our cotton. We treated most cotton once and probably a third of it twice, and it all had seed treatments. That qualifies as a pretty heavy thrips year. We’re finding a lot of alfalfa hoppers in seedling beans, and we’re treating those. We’ve been finding them in cotton, too. They haven’t caused a lot of concern in cotton, but we’re seeing injury. In V3 soybeans, we’ve been catching 60 to 80 per 25 sweeps in places.”
Rogers Leonard, LSU Research Entomologist, Winnsboro, La.: “Farmers are still fighting spider mites, and more and more fields are being treated for cotton aphids. We’re still coping with severe drought in much of the state, and there’s been very little plant growth in fields that aren’t irrigated. We still have potential for a very good crop in fields under irrigation.”
Barry L. Freeman, Extension Entomologist (Retired), Belle Mina, Ala.: "Cotton, overall, is pretty quiet. We’ll be watching plant bugs over the next several weeks. We had scattered showers a few days ago but not enough to do any good. I spent a lot of last week in south Alabama, and they were sure enough in a drought. We’re just now getting into it here. Cotton is still hanging on, but corn is definitely suffering, and growers are having trouble planting soybeans behind wheat.”
Bill Brooks, Mid-South Farmers Cooperative, Alamo, Tenn.: “Most of our service area got rain Saturday (6/11), from a half-inch to a little more than an inch. That’s helping get us past thrips. Cotton ranges from first to seventh true leaf, and a big part of it has been sprayed twice for thrips. The later cotton held up better because it didn’t have all the weather problems that hit the early cotton. Along with thrips, we’ve had some seedling disease in the early fields, plus really poor growing conditions with the rain and cold weather in May. In a 5-day period around May 15 we didn’t accumulate a single heat unit.
"We haven’t run into plant bugs yet. We’re just now seeing pinhead squares and are already battling resistant pigweed. We’ve seen some success with Roundup, but not 100%, and in some fields the results may be down to 10%, based on visual estimates. A lot of Ignite-tolerant cotton has had one shot of Ignite, and some has had a second application. And we’ve got some non-Ignite-tolerant cotton that we’ll put a hood through just as soon as it’s big enough. We haven’t reached the point that we’re chopping but will be before it’s over. It’s not like we’ve got 100% infestations, but we’re finding pigweed escapes on field ends, in silt basins and around telephone poles, plus occasional spots in the field where one resistant plant went to seed. I saw one band of pigweed this week (see photo below) where it was obvious that the operator stopped to clean out the front of the machine and ended up depositing a concentration of pigweed see. We’re fighting them for the coming years. That’s how we have to approach this.”
Pigweed emerging across
rows in a West Tennessee
Zach Ingrum, Field Rep, Southern States, Athens, Alabama: “In our April-planted fields, we’re spraying plant bugs with bifenthren. Those fields are hurting the most in terms of drought and are about to start blooming. We haven’t had rain in this immediate area 3 weeks (as of 6/13). With all the weather delays earlier, our cotton is a little later than we’d like. A lot of it was planted in May, and we’re not worried about the lack of rain in those fields yet. The April cotton has 7 to 8 squares, so we’ve got a developing fruit load and will soon start slipping into early cutout if we don’t get adequate rain soon. Again, we’ve got just a small amount of cotton to that point. Most of the rest is just beginning to square.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist: "Everything keeps pointing to this being one of our biggest plant bug years in a while. A lot of cotton already has had 2 sprays. I’m getting more and more calls about spider mites, which isn’t unexpected with this hot, dry weather. This outbreak on small cotton has triggered more miticide spraying than we’ve seen in several years, and we’re just at the beginning of it. In places, 2 applications have been made. None of these materials are systemic, so when the plant puts on a new leaf, it’s unprotected. We’re finding high numbers of eggs in small cotton. While they might initially look like bollworm eggs, these probably are eggs for the granulate cutworm, which we see every few years. The egg is a little bigger and doesn’t quite look the same as a bollworm egg. Bt cottons do a good job on them.”
Tom Barber, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist: "Showers and thunderstorms developed over the weekend, and the rain was great. But we also got high winds with those storms, plus more today (6/13) that caused some hard sandblasting in parts of northeast Arkansas. I’ve gotten digital images this afternoon of tough looking situations. If those fields are as bad as the photos look, that cotton is gone. I don’t think this is necessarily widespread, but the damage was quite heavy in at least one area, and some of these places already had been hit earlier. We’ve got a good looking crop down south where they were able to plant more cotton early, but it’s getting extremely dry there, and growers are rolling out pipe and turning on pivots. We're going to have to push this crop with irrigation, where possible. This time last year, USDA report said that about 44% of our cotton was at pinhead square. This year, it’s more like 3% to 4% at the end of last week, which shows how far behind we are.”
John Kruse, Louisiana Extension Cotton/Corn Specialist: “No rain to speak of in the last week through most of the state and hardly anything in our cotton parishes. It’s dry and getting drier. We’re getting hit pretty hard by spider mites. We’re into early bloom on 25% to 35% of the crop. This weather has held back development, so we’ve got to wonder if the shorter height will allow for full yield potential. It’s not overly alarming yet, but we’ll need some vertical growth to set a decent crop. As far as I know, very few people have made any kind of plant growth regulator applications. Everybody is concerned, and rightfully so, about stunting the crop or pushing it into early cutout while they wait for rain.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “Plant bug numbers are going up, particularly when cotton hits 7 to 8 nodes and has any corn around it or heavy weeds that are drying down in adjoining areas. I’m getting reports of counts as high as 60 in 100 sweeps in extreme cases. Mostly, we’re hearing about 15 to 20 per 100. A bunch of adults are moving into cotton, plus we’re seeing a few immatures in the mix. Where numbers are heavy, we’re advising folks to increase rates. If numbers are just middling, say 10 to 15 per 100, you might be able to go with something lighter, then come back on the second application with a treatment that has more zip to it. We need to be scouting closely on square retention in any cotton at 8 or 9 nodes. Plant bug numbers are as high in early June as I can remember in a long time. Spider mites are building, and not just in a few places. With the hot, dry weather, we’re seeing activity from the Louisiana line to practically the Missouri Bootheel. They’re not heavy everyplace yet, but numbers are increasing broadly.”
Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Ark.: “A sandstorm hit our cotton pretty hard on Saturday. That cotton had been replanted once due to earlier problems. The storm banged up the cotton pretty badly, and we lost several acres. And then another storm hit Monday with 75 mph winds and more sandblasting. At least 1,200 acres of cotton have affected.
"Cotton is really suffering from a combination of it being too dry, too wet, all this sand damage and also herbicide injury. Some cotton has had up to 4 applications of herbicides in 45 days as we try to hammer down pigweed. In a more normal season, that might not have mattered much. But with the conditions this year, it’s added extra stress and magnified the herbicidal effect on cotton. Some cotton hit by sand on Saturday needs to be planted yet a third time. No decisions have been made yet, but some of those acres may go to beans, although we’re going to have issues in places where certain cotton herbicides were used. We're facing some tough choices. How much herbicide injury cotton has suffered this season widely. I’ve seen cotton that died, cotton that severely yellowed and cotton that showed no effect. How much it was injured depended on what materials were used, when they were applied, at what rate, what the weather did, whether it rained and when it rained.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tenn.: “We’re still fighting thrips in some late-planted cotton, plus we’re finding a good number of plant bugs in early planted cotton. We see this every year – the first fields coming into squaring act as a sink for plant bugs. But that effect may be more pronounced this year because of the limited amount of early cotton. Several people mentioned seeing a fair number of stink bugs in their nets. I’m not overly concerned about that except that the numbers appear to be high for this early in the season. Last year we had a terrible stink bug year in some counties, but I couldn’t even find them until July 1 and actually came close to saying that 2010 wouldn’t be a stink bug year. This year, they’re showing up early, and we had them in wheat. Rain over the weekend was a godsend. It hit almost everybody, from a third of an inch to 2.5 inches in places.”
Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist: “We’ve had some active weather this week. It rained about 2.3 inches at Starkville Monday afternoon. I was in Tunica on Monday looking at trials and doing some spraying, and at 3 p.m. the wind got so bad that my student workers got in the pickup, and the soil was blowing so badly that they couldn’t see me 200 feet away. I disappeared in the dust. Then it started raining hard. We pulled into the median on U.S. 61, and it was pouring so much that we had to sit there for 20 minutes because the visibility was so poor. One consultant said that he’d had some cotton whipped around pretty badly in that same system. We needed the rain, but it also caused a lot of damage.
"Cotton, overall, is a mixed bag. It ranges from just planted to 12 to 13 nodes. A lot of folks have started running water across cotton that’s smaller than they’d like. But it’s hot and dry, and they have to do something. We’ve got cotton on sandier ground that hasn’t had rain in 6 to 8 weeks. One thing to keep in mind is that smaller cotton doesn’t have the same demand as cotton that’s into bloom. Don’t get on the same 7-day schedule that you might with blooming cotton. You maybe can extend the interval to 10 days. On heavier ground that holds water better, you might be able to go every 10 to 14 days. Aside from dealing with the weather, people are still fighting pigweed – a neverending story. Nothing is going to be easy this year – cold early, now it’s hot and dry, plus insects are building. Fortunately, prices are still strong.”
ALSO AT AGFAX.COM
Arkansas: Plant Bug Situation Heating Up in Cotton 6-14. Arkansas Row Crops Blog
Arkansas: Moth Traps Indicate Bollworm Numbers May Be High This Year 6-14. Arkansas Row Crops Blog
Arkansas: Push Cotton Earliness with Timely Irrigation 6-14. Arkansas Row Crops Blog
Louisiana (E-Central): Cotton Insects Build, Drought Takes A Toll 6-12. Roger Carter and his colleagues at Agricultural Management Services, Inc.
Mississippi Cotton: Irrigation Considerations In Early Season 6-12. Mississippi Crop Situation Blog
Northwest Tennessee: Area IPM Update 6-15. UTcrops News
Tennessee Cotton: Plant Bugs Are Here and It's Time to Treat Them Right! 6-13. UTCrops Blog
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