Owen Taylor, Editor
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More cotton has been let go, either because it’s physiologically past the point that insects matter or because there isn’t enough time to mature out any still-vulnerable fruit.
Cleanup sprays are being made this week in the upper Midsouth, with some expected into next week. Plant bugs and spider mites are the main pests still lingering around. But past that, the next applications in many fields will be harvest-related.
Some defoliation could start in Louisiana within a week if it hasn’t already begun in scattered, isolated locations. More cotton is opening in the lower half of the region.
Target spot has taken a toll on cotton in the upper Midsouth where heavy rains fell week after week this summer.
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Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana: “We’ve let go of most of our cotton and are really just checking green spots now for stink bugs. A couple of fields still have soft bolls, but I’m not sure if we’ll pick them. It’s been hot and dry, and we don’t have much chance for rain over the next 10 days (from 8/26) and 95 to 100 for highs over the next week. Mainly, we’re looking ahead to when we might start defoliation. We’ll initiate a little within 10 days, I think. Some cotton seems to be doing really well, although we’ve got fields that missed earlier rains and aren’t hanging too well.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “As best I can tell, we’re about to wind up this cotton crop in parts of the state. In northeast Arkansas they’re still fighting plant bugs, plus I’m getting a few calls about spider mites around. But all of that is mostly over. Plant bug numbers have really fallen off. Cotton isn’t a prime host at this point, and when you spray you can actually clean them up now. A lot of cotton in the southeast part of the state today (8/26) is upwards of 20% open. I even saw some beans being harvested down there.”
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Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland Parish, Louisiana: “Our first defoliation will start 7 to 9 days from now (8/27) in our very earliest cotton and progress from there. With our acreage way down, it won’t take long. We’re just waiting now to get enough bolls open to shoot the leaves off. The crop looks good. Rainfall has been favorable.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee: “We’re getting some nice sunshine and accumulating heat units, which are helping, but we still have a long way to go on some of this cotton. We’ve got scattered plant bugs, and with most cotton this probably will be the last week of cleanup sprays. We’re encouraging people to make a last spray this week if it’s needed, with maybe some exceptions where worms might develop in later cotton. But even in those cases we’ll really only have to watch it for another week. Most people say they’re only seeing a few worms, but some non-Bt cotton in plots is getting hammered.
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“By the beginning of next week we’ll probably cut loose a lot of cotton. Some isn’t physiologically ready. But based on the calendar rules and the average first frost date, any effort to protect this later fruit doesn’t make economic sense. Based on an average first frost date of October 15, a white bloom on August 15 has a 50% chance of making a harvestable boll, so we’re nearly 2 weeks past that point now (8/27) and will be 3 weeks past it next week.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist: "Plant bugs are still an issue in a few areas, but those areas are getting smaller every day. Spider mites are robably the biggest thing in cotton this week. They're active in places and are being cleaned up. We still have a fair amount of late cotton, but even in those fields we’re getting things under control. We’ve also got some ultra-late cotton, but I don’t know if it has time to make anything and, fortunately, we don’t have a tremendous amount of that.”
David Kerns, Entomologist and Interim Cotton Specialist, LSU, Macon Ridge Research Station: “Most of our cotton has really cut out hard, if not completely. A few late fields are still around and susceptible, maybe at 6 NAWF, but there can’t be very much of that left. They’re still treating plant bugs in some of those situations and dealing with spots of spider mites. Some non-Bt cotton actually has bollworm issues, but for the most part this crop is finishing up. We’ve got open bolls, with quite a number of them in places. Just a rough guess, but maybe 80% to 85% of this crop has some open bolls.”
Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Mississippi: "We’re basically finishing up the cotton, making some cleanup sprays and trying to wind things down. In places, we’re still spraying plant bugs and spider mites. The plant bugs aren’t bad but some are around. We had a few scattered showers last week, a half-inch or so. That helped where it fell but the rains weren’t widespread enough.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas: “We’re trying to finish up treatments this week, although we mostly wrapped up applications last week and are just cleaning up a few things now. Unless it’s a really late field, we’ll finish irrigation this week.
“We’ve been concentrating on making a top crop where the whole middle was lost to shed and plant bugs. We’ve also had to deal with a lot of aphids lately. We’re actually in pretty good shape with pests this week, nothing like the last 3 weeks. We treated every field every week for the last 3 weeks and every field actually got something pretty much every week for 6 weeks straight.
“Target spot wore us out in some fields, too, and we’ve lost a lot of yield in places. We’ve treated, and that seems to have straightened things up. With all the rain for 3 weeks, we couldn’t get anything sprayed when needed. Airplanes were backed up. It’s been a nightmare at times. After all the loss to shed and plant bugs, target spot added insult to injury.
“This won’t be a great cotton crop, overall. It will be pretty good in places, and we have made a fairly nice top crop. Normally we have a big number of fields that average 1,500 lbs/acre, but this year we’ll have just a handful of those here and there, with more than usual in the 1,000 to 1,200 lb/acre range. That’s still good cotton, but a lot of people have come to expect more than that.”
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 but is growing and finishing bolls. We’re growing our middle and top crop.
“We don’t have a bottom crop because all the wet weather earlier complicated plant bug applications. It doesn’t make any difference 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 we’d actually welcome more days of sunshine right now.
“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 pest issues in cotton.”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist: “A lot of fields are at cutout or past and plenty of bolls are cracking and opened. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some defoliation start in the next one to two weeks. We’re still dealing with plant bugs in some late cotton. Spider mites are still here, too, and people are fighting them. They’re trying to protect those leaves long enough to fill out the last positions, even though cotton has cut out.”
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