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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.
Hurricane Harvey appears to have done minimal damage to the Midsouth’s cotton crop. If anything, heavy rains ahead of the storm inflicted more harm on cotton and other crops than the tropical system managed to do.
Defoliation started on a limited basis. mainly in the week before Harvey. More rain fell in the region after Harvey’s passage, triggered by a cold front that moved through the Delta states. That put defoliation on hold yet again. However, a drier weather pattern is in place now and more applications should be going out this week and next week.
Insect treatments in cotton have mostly wound down.
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Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana
“Our cotton has taken a pretty hard lick all season from rain. We already were finding hard locking before the storm (Harvey) and now (8/5) we have a little more. That’s not good.
“A lot of cotton I checked today had 30% to 60% open bolls. But after all we’ve been through, we’re not talking about a great crop.
“Hit or miss showers fell in the week preceding the storm, and that kept combines from running in places. Some beans that were ready did take some damage from Harvey.
“We received 6 to 7 inches around here from Harvey. Since the storm, our better ground dried up enough that people could start cutting beans again. Damage on samples has definitely increased since the storm. But considering all the rain we’ve had since May 1, that’s actually been close to a normal week for us.
“We planted a fair number of MG V soybeans, and they’re between R6 and R6.5 now. When you drive through the area, those look beautiful, green and juicy, and stink bugs (RBSB) are finding them. At this point, it’s mainly the redbanded stink bug. We either have to deal with them or face the consequences.
“We’re past the point that caterpillars would matter in most soybeans. Generally speaking, rice fared well in the storm. I don’t have any hard numbers on rice yields, but people seem to be pleased.”
Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi
“The older cotton has cut out and I really don’t think anything could hurt us now. I can find little squares on top but we won’t make them anyway. Where any insects are still in cotton, it’s just late plant bugs and scattered worms. I’m letting some cotton go and in other cases I’ll apply a last shot of a pyrethroid and acephate.
“With the weather lately, we’re hardly accumulating any DD60s, and I think it will be the first week of October before we start much defoliation.
“In soybeans, we’re spraying a second time for redbanded stink bugs. Hopefully, that will be the last round except for really late beans. As everything else dries down and is cut, we could see a whole flock of redbanded in those fields and might end up making 3 or more sprays in places.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas
“Rainfall amounts (from Harvey) were all over the board, depending on which squall line the rain gauge was under – from an inch to 4 inches and up to 8 inches in places.
“I can’t tell that the rain hurt to any extent. It did lay down some rice and I’m sure it prompted some boll rot. But in the last 2 or 3 days (from 9/5), I can’t tell any negative effects. In fact, it really helped some dryland fields more than it hurt and the rain reduced any immediate need to water anything.
“In cotton, we’re in the process of letting go of everything. This week we’re mainly just dealing with stragglers – some late fields here and there. Insects are generally quiet. We have some June-planted cotton that’s being sprayed this week for plant bugs and worms.
“We defoliated our first 2 fields today and will do a little more tomorrow, I think. That’s early for us. We hardly ever begin defoliation before September 20.
“Where beans have been cut, they looked pretty good but I haven’t heard any definitive numbers on yields. What’s left to protect are late-planted fields and beans behind wheat. We treated some soybean loopers last week – the first this year – and that was only in 5 to 8 fields. By now, we’ve normally treated that whole farm. It’s been a weird year.
“In rice, we’re applying salt where it hasn’t already gone out. One rice field still has water on it where the crop was flooded out in the spring. Otherwise, we’ve let go of everything else. I even let go of some replanted rice today. We’re still spraying rice stink bugs in those few late fields.
“Maybe 20% of the rice in this area has been cut. Yields seem to be around 200 bu/acre. One grower who has all hybrid rice said he doesn’t think any of his fields have averaged under 210 bu/acre.
“We’re getting into corn harvest pretty good, although some farmers shifted into rice as it got ready. We’ve cut around 50% of the corn. This has been a good corn crop. I’ve heard of very few fields averaging less than 200 bu/acre and was told about some that went to 260. Most of mine is generally running 200 to 230, with a little maybe touching 240.”
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana
“We got about 3.5 inches of rain out of Harvey in this area. The rainfall from Harvey, in and of itself, wasn’t the bad part. The thing that hurt was the 6 to 10 inches ahead of the storm and 4 or 5 days without sunshine.
“We no longer have a cotton crop to brag about. We still will see some 1,000 lb/acre yields, but we went through 2 big rounds of fruit shedding in August. By and large, this will be a below-average crop. Usually, we’re waiting for cotton to mature out so we can finish it up, but right now (9/5) cotton is as green as a gourd and very little maturing is taking place.
“We will maybe start defoliation in 3 or 4 fields next week and see how that goes. The crop looked huge at one time. I have learned that a crop that looks bad tends to turn out a little better than expected and a cotton crop that looks awesome is never quite as good as you thing it is. However this one goes, we’ll need a good fall to finish it out.
“Soybeans are sprouting in some fields and we can find true deterioration. Again, we’ll have to see how this turns out. Whenever a consultant or farmer hand-shells beans in this situation, it always looks like 100% damage and you’re thinking there’s no way that field will be worth anything.
“Several guys did start harvesting beans on Sunday and, yes, there is damage, from 6% to 14%. At 14% we are sustaining a good deal of loss, but at least we’re able to deliver beans and the yields are holding up. That’s not a worst-case situation, and we’re in about the same shape we were during last August when we had to battle out the crop.
“We’re still dealing with redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) and will be in that mode until the last bean is out of the field. In July, we thought we’d have to spray them every 2 weeks, then in August it was every 10 days and now it’s every 7 to 10 days. We’ll see if this cooler weather does anything to curtail RBSB or slow them down.
“This was a good overall corn crop. On ground where we thought we should average 200 bu/acre, it was 200. In places where we had too much water earlier, yields ran 50 to 60 bu/acre. It could have been so much better but everyone, I think, made a corn crop they could be reasonably proud of.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist
“How much of a hit our cotton took from the storm (Harvey) is yet to be determined. But we already were wet. At Marianna, we’ve actually had about 11 inches of rain on our plots in the last 10 days and the field flooded. You can see the water line about a third of the way up on the plant. I’m sure the lower fruit is going to pay the price. It rained again today (9/5).
“All of our soybeans are laid over and now redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) are turning up in more places. People are complaining about how hard it is to sweep those beans, and it’s turning into a bit of a nightmare.
“With some of the earlier beans coming out, we already were seeing quite a bit of weather damage from all the rain ahead of the hurricane. People are sending me photos of harvested beans that are shriveled up and off-color.
“I’m afraid that this is being widely mistaken for RBSB damage. I’m hearing about cases where March-planted beans were sprayed 3 times for RBSB but still looked terrible at harvest – due to weather, not that stink bug. Some farmers, I’m told, are jumping to the conclusion that consultants dropped the ball on RBSB control. In fact, they could have sprayed 3 times a week and still sustained this same level of weather damage.
“RBSBs aren’t quitting. In places, they’re moving into fields that don’t have a leaf on them – in some cases up to 2 per sweep. It’s a dilemma, for certain. Do you go ahead and spray to reduce the chance that you’ll take big numbers of them to the elevator when you cut? And depending on the insecticide, you could have a pre-harvest interval of 8 to 21 days or even up to 30 days with certain materials.
“This insect has caused all manner of complications that are new to us. If there’s any good news right now in terms of soybeans, the weather has cooled off, so maybe that will slow the RBSB’s ability to reproduce as fast. Also, these conditions have really enhanced the natural control of soybean loopers. We’re seeing a good deal of virus and fungus in looper populations.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist
“I can’t really say that the storm (Harvey) affected us much. A lot of cotton laid down like it does this time of the year and maybe the winds helped promote that a little. But when bolls begin opening, plants will start standing up.
“Some cotton is ready for defoliation but a cold front came in and more rain fell. At this point (9/6), people are waiting for clearer weather before they get too serious about defoliation.
“In soybeans, we’re still treating redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) in places and they’re building in later beans, as expected. A lot of fields have had 3 sprays and the late beans still have a way to go.
“With all the spraying for RBSB, we’ve released soybean loopers in a big way. We knew that would happen, but it was necessary to take care of that first problem as it developed.
“A couple of fields were sprayed this week for soybean loopers because of the level of defoliation. On the positive side, we’re detecting the looper virus, plus temperatures have dropped into a range that works against loopers. A lot of people can’t find materials recommended for loopers, but we’re advising folks to hold back and wait for the virus. Maybe we can get by without further spraying.
“We are hearing about some really good yields in the early beans, which is great news.”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist
“We had minimal effect from the hurricane (Harvey) but had rain before that storm and then have had more since then.
“Not much defoliation has started and guys are waiting for this last round of rain to move through. After that, we are supposed to transition into a solid 10-day stretch of dry weather and sunshine. So, a lot of defoliation should get underway.
“In soybeans, redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) are still definitely here. In extreme cases, they’re running up to 10X threshold. They’re into the young and late-maturing fields and we’re seeing that green-island effect where they congregate in whatever’s left.
“Soybean loopers are still very much with us. We’ve also had a pretty good influx of velvetbean caterpillars and green cloverworms, but most beans are past the point that they would pull those in.”
Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi
“We defoliated some cotton a week ago Monday and should see a picker in the field next week. So far, we’ve probably made applications on 1,500 acres. We have about 5 fields in the same variety that are showing some hard locking. Maybe cotton will fluff out and be okay, but it sure looked ugly the last time I checked.
“Overall, we came out pretty much unscathed from the storm (Harvey), especially considering what the forecasts predicted earlier. We’ve been spraying for stink bugs here and there and have probably treated more for stink bugs than in the last 4 or 5 years. That must be due to the mild winter.
“In soybeans, redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) started moving into some fields and I’m checking soybeans longer this year than I ever have. We had a near-threshold level in one field at R7. The farmer didn’t want to apply paraquat ahead of the hurricane, and we felt like we had to do something in terms of the stink bug.
“The grower’s brother farms in Arkansas and had cut beans that were still carrying a good many RBSB. When he took that first load to the elevator, he was told that they would take that load but don’t bring any more beans in with that many RBSB. That’s the kind of situation we want to avoid.
“We’re finding enough soybean loopers in spots to treat. Those fields tend to be isolated, out there by themselves. Where people have been harvesting beans, some dryland fields are averaging 55 bu/acre. But where beans missed key rains in July, they’re cutting about 30. Some irrigated MG IVs are averaging 70.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee
“At this point, everyone is waiting for defoliation and to crank up the pickers. Effects from Harvey were pretty minimal. Some cotton is laying down but there’s no indication of rot. This does look like a very good crop, and we’re not far off from defoliating the early fields.
“Soybeans are a little wallowed up from the storm but seem to have weathered it okay. We’re done with corn earworms in beans and are mostly watching a few loopers and stink bugs. That includes waiting to see if redbanded stink bugs turn up.
“I haven’t heard of much that anyone would treat in beans this week except for late blowups of kudzu bugs in places. That’s causing some heartburn. We thought the fungus would take them out, but they’ve come back strong in certain areas.
“Kudzu bugs seem to be worse in places where we haven’t had them in the past. If parts of the state with a big history of kudzu bugs, the insect has somewhat settled down, maybe because the disease is better established. We do have quite a bit in some early beans that we maybe should have treated a few weeks ago.
“Populations also seem to ebb and flow now. A few years ago, the numbers went up and stayed up. Now, though, kudzu bugs can disappear but then come back later.”
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