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Owen Taylor, Editor
Here is this week's issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton.
Our thanks to SePRO – maker of Brake herbicide – for once again sponsoring our coverage.
Bollworm moths and eggs are becoming more obvious through a large part of the region. More treatments are being made, at least in the southern portion of the Midsouth.
Treatments continue to varying degrees for plant bugs, aphids and spider mites. We are mostly hearing about hot spots and localized situations, not widespread issues.
Where possible, growers are catching up on field work and spraying after more rain put things on hold. Parts of the region have dried out enough that irrigation pumps have come to life for the first time this year, but showers are in the forecast through a wide area into next week.
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Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist
“We’re in a normal plant bug year. In a few spots the numbers picked up in a bigger way, but on the whole we seem to be okay. Mite numbers have been picking up in places, too, and people have been treating in certain areas.
“In the last few days (from 7/11) we’ve been picking up tons and tons of bollworm moths, with egg lays ranging from 10% to 60%. The moths we’re seeing now are coming out of corn planted in the last week of March and the first week of April, based on counts in our emergence traps. That is some of the earlier corn.
“Today I received the first two reports of bollworms in soybeans – both in late planted beans that are just starting to bloom. Most calls regarding soybeans have been about redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) in beans that are between R5.5 and R6. That’s the crop stage when they begin showing up in treatable numbers.
“RBSB aren’t widespread but treatments are going out. I think we’re 3 weeks away from seeing a lot more RBSB and I’m convinced we’ll be dealing with this pest on broader acreage this season.”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist
“We still have quite a large number of bollworm eggs in the environment and are still in the midst of a moth flight. We’re finding more and more eggs every day, too.
“The regular WideStrike cotton is still the weaker of the Bt systems with bollworms. If you have those varieties, scout closely. Let me emphasis, this is the regular WideStrike, not WideStrike 3. Other technologies, including WideStrike 3, seem to be holding up.
“Plant bugs are hit or miss. We still have hot spots and people are spraying, but it’s nothing crazy. Some growers have gotten away with spraying only once or twice. But in worst cases, 4 or 5 applications have gone out. These seem to be places influenced by alternate hosts or where corn is drying down.
“Mites are beginning to show up, just scattered occurrences, and no reports of treatments.
“Rainfall has varied. Areas from Alexandria south and areas north of Interstate 20 have received ample amounts lately, even drenchings. But little or no rain has fallen (as of 7/11) between Alexandria an I-20 in the last 2 weeks. A lot of that cotton is being irrigated now.
“Aphids are still hanging on where they haven’t been taken out by plant bug sprays, and this hot, dry weather is fostering mites. Guys are finding them on field edges. No treatments to my knowledge.
“Corn earworms are showing up in R1 to R3 soybeans. It’s nothing drastic, and threecornered alfalfa hoppers are present, too.
“We’re starting to deal with more redbanded stink bug (RBSB) pressure, especially after soybeans hit R5. Scout closely. If possible, check twice a week since they can sneak up on you in a hurry. We’re finding a few loopers, at least in the northern part of the state. At this point in the year they’re probably cabbage loopers, not soybean loopers, and are easier to take out.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist
“There was some level of concern this week when a person misidentified a type of seed weevil as a boll weevil. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Should you find something that you can’t identify, collect it and take it to someone who can tell you specifically what it is.
“In Extension we’re always happy to help. And if you’re concerned about whether something might be a boll weevil, you can ask us or anyone in the boll weevil eradication program to take a look at it.
“Plant bug numbers are popping up in a lot of places and counts have really jumped in the last 4 to 5 days (from 7/12). They’re blowing up a little here and there and this trend is kind of creeping northward in the state. Up until now it’s been kind of quiet with plant bugs. Some people have treated a couple of times and others haven’t sprayed the first time this year. But a lot more cotton is beginning to bloom, so we can expect varying influxes of plant bugs now.
“Bollworms are being treated in some fields in south Arkansas. That includes applications in Bollgard 2 cotton but more so in WideStrike and conventional varieties. The bollworm flight is still going on, with increasing numbers in cotton.
“The same goes for bollworms in soybeans, especially in the southern two-thirds of Arkansas. Fall armyworms aren’t slacking up in soybeans, either. They’re turning up in late-planted beans that still have grass in them, which isn’t surprising, but we’re also encountering them in fields that are really clean.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee
“In places, the crop is still trying to recover from being too wet, but cotton generally looks good with the conditions we have now. Most fields are blooming and calls are picking up, especially about plant bugs. People are reporting counts that need to be treated.
“It’s July 11, which is about when we see immature plant bugs in cotton. In some cases the counts weren’t quite at threshold, but growers were going across the field for other reasons and wanted to know whether they should include something for plant bugs.
“These are never simple questions to answer. Whether you might treat for sub-threshold levels depends on several factors – how close are counts to threshold, how big is the cotton, is this a place where more plant bug movement seems likely?
“Mostly, people are finding tarnished plant bugs but a few clouded plant bugs and stink bugs are in the mix. We’ll probably spray more fields in the next week than in the last 3 or 4 weeks combined. That’s kind of typical as more cotton starts blooming.
“Low levels of target spot are showing up here on the station in an area where we do our target spot plot work. None of the consultants I’ve talked with are finding it yet, but it usually appears about now. Look for it but don’t jump into any panic spraying.”
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana
“We’ve had a good run of hotter, drier weather and this finally looks like a cotton crop. A few acres are lagging, but even those fields are catching up. Right now (7/11) we’re trying to set things up for water.
“We’re into a big run of bollworms this week, maybe some of the highest numbers found in bloom tags in the last several years, regardless of the technology. So, we’re spraying for worms, cleaning up plant bugs, putting out Diamond and getting Pix out before we begin irrigating cotton.
“I’m trying to set up this crop so that we can keep it going longer. Compared to states to our north, we have more flexibility in terms of stretching out the season. Several of my clients this year haven’t grown cotton in a number of seasons, so I’m re-educating them on the approach we need to take with Pix.
“We’re now into the real nuts and bolts of crop management. Most of our cotton is 10 days into bloom, with a couple of thousand acres right before bloom.
“In soybeans, we’ve started spraying for redbanded stink bugs (RBSB), primarily north of Interstate 20. That sounds kind of weird that we’re not treating south of the interstate, even though this insect develops from south to north. But the heavier numbers north of I-20 probably have something to do with availability of alternate hosts. That might include clover patches, which may not be as abundant to the south. One thing we’ve learned is that it’s time to aggressively scout beans for RBSB at R5.5.
“We’ve finished watering corn. Most all of it is at the half-starch-line phase or beyond. I imagine that some corn here will be cut in the first week of August. It’s an excellent crop, too.”
Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi
“Our cotton ranges from pinhead to about the third week of bloom. We’re mainly applying Pix on most fields. A few June-planted fields had to be treated for aphids. We tried to wait for the fungus but hit a point that we had to take that pressure off of those young plants. Today (7/10) is the first day I think that I’ve seen some fungus show up.
“Plant bugs are here and there but, if anything, they seem to be easing up.
“By the end of this week we would like to have a rain. We have begun irrigating cotton in some fields that are blooming and have shallow root systems due to all the earlier rain. In those locations we’re just starting with a half-inch of water.
“We just began irrigating corn today, aside from farmers running nitrogen through pivots earlier. All of our corn looks irrigated. I’m expecting plenty of dryland fields to average 150-plus (bu/acre) and I bet we’ll see 200 to 250 on better ground. On some of our less-than-perfect dryland fields that cut 50 last year, we’ll probably see 150 this year.”
Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana
“Some areas yesterday (7/9) received more rain. One spot picked up about 4 inches in 90 minutes and it’s raining through the area right now. With all the rain, farmers have done hardly any spraying lately. About 2 months ago our moisture situation was about as perfect as you could want, but it’s been anything but perfect since then.
“In cotton, we have plant bugs under control, at least for the time being. Plant growth regulators are the big question mark. In places, plant bugs moved out of corn and into cotton, but the weather prevented us from timely spraying. So, we lost some early squares at the bottom of plants. We’re not as worried about those from a yield standpoint since a lot of the early bolls hard lock anyway. But even where we still have good retention, growth management has been a challenge.
“Quite a bit of our corn is at or near black layer, and I’m not sure what the effect of all this moisture will be where corn isn’t drying down in a timely manner. Our oldest beans are about halfway between R6 and R7, and a few early fields have just had a second spray for stink bugs. On the east side of Avoyelles Parish we’ve encountered tremendous bollworm pressure in beans. A lot of those acres have been sprayed and more will be as conditions allow.”
Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri
“The last couple of days (from 7/10) have been pretty good, weather-wise. We’ve had sunshine, which makes cotton. After all the rain and delays, growers are pushing to catch up with herbicide and insecticide applications.
“Polypipe is being rolled out and there’s some thought of getting pivots going later this week. Corn silks are brown, so plant bugs are moving out of corn and into cotton. We had some really high numbers over the weekend up in the Dexter area and now we’re finding high plant bug numbers down at Kennett. Treatments are going out as soon as possible.
“Mites seem to have increased over the last 2 weeks. We started with border sprays and are now treating whole fields in certain cases.”
Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi
“Most of my cotton is at 12 to 14 nodes and we’re picking up blooms here and there. Some early April cotton is in full bloom. Plant bugs really built and we sprayed all of the cotton last week. Control was good.
“This week I’m finding a lot of bollworm moths everywhere in cotton and we’re picking up just a few eggs in terminals. I’m not concerned yet but I’ll look closely again on Thursday, especially in non-Bt cotton. They have potential to bust loose in a week or so.
“A few aphids were around but we used Transform this last time for plant bugs, and that took out aphids. I’m not finding spider mites in our usual mite hot spots. This absence of mites in cotton may have something to do with the corn having ample water. Also, we haven’t had tractors running up and down the rows, which spreads mites. With all the rain, herbicides remained activated longer, so we haven’t had as much need to deal with weeds, which reduced those trips.”
Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Mississippi
“We are just getting into bloom. One to two applications of a plant growth regulator have gone out on everything. In some cases the first treatment slowed down cotton, but we’ve also caught a lot of rain in that time period. We’re hoping that the second shot will stop it.
“In a 2.5-day period I poured out almost 5 inches at one gauge and it was already wet there before this last round of showers. That was a week ago and those folks are just now (7/10) getting in the field again.
“Plant bugs are few and far between. Aphids are scattered. Maybe 15% of our total cotton acreage had to be treated specifically for aphids, and most of that was planted into a wheat cover crop. We made one Transform application and the beneficials took care of them after that.
“Corn looks phenomenal and everything seems to be at or just before dent. We started watering a little for the first time. With the exception of 300 acres in a bottomland field, we haven’t found disease. In that specific field, which has a 250-acre pivot, we identified 7 different diseases, and 5 of those could be detrimental to yields. Everything is at brown silk. Except for spraying 80 acres for green clover worms, we haven’t had to do anything with insects in soybeans.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas
“Our cotton ranges from just starting to bloom to mid-bloom. We’ve been fighting plant bugs tooth and nail. We’ve had about 2 weeks of solid rain and could hardly get a day to spray. On some acres, plant bugs did a number on us.
“Aphids have been popping up and we’ve treated about 1,500 acres for them in the last couple of days. We’re spraying 300 to 400 acres a week for mites.
“We’re trying to spray Pix, handle weed control and make layby applications. So far, we’ve only been able to do layby on a few fields (as of 7/10). Last week we had about 4 inches of rain and, depending on the location, 7 or 8 inches fell the week before.
“There hasn’t been much need to irrigate anything lately. Polypipe has yet to be rolled out in a lot of cotton and soybeans, and you won’t see any difference between irrigated and non-irrigated fields.”
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