Owen Taylor, Editor
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More open bolls are evident in the lower Southeast in both dryland and irrigated fields. As our contacts continue to note, intense heat this summer quickly pushed the crop along. In Florida a few fields are as much as 30% open. A very small amount of defoliation could start before the end of the month on the far western side of our coverage area in south Mississippi.
Stink bugs vary. Treatments continue in places but in other areas they have been sprayed little, if at all. A bollworm flight is stretching out in parts of the region. Plant bugs have turned up again in areas in North Carolina. Spider mites continue to demand attention and some applications have been made over the last week.
A larger portion of the crop has moved past the point that insects are an economic factor, although plenty of later-planted and/or irrigated cotton still requires some degree of protection.
Rainfall has picked up in places. No major fronts have come through but scattered showers have at least been a little less scattered.sss
Mike Donahoe, Santa Rosa County Extension Leader, Milton, Florida: “We had rain over the weekend (8/15-16). Totals ranged from not much to about 2 inches in places, and it was very much needed. Some areas, of course, remain really dry, but we’re getting showers today (8/17), so maybe people who’ve missed rain still have a chance.
“Our oldest cotton is pretty much cut out or is in the process. Some of our later cotton still has a little ways to go. We haven’t had major pest problems. A few stink bugs have required attention here and there. Spider mites developed a couple of weeks ago in spots. One consultant had farmers treat a few fields.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia: “Scattered showers developed over the last week but to my knowledge nothing more than a half-inch fell anywhere. Whatever did fall, we needed every drop of it. Some of our older cotton is opening, so we don’t need rain there, but all of our peanuts and 95% of our cotton would greatly benefit from rain.
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“We’re mainly spraying stink bugs in cotton. Pressure has been below average, and we have fields that haven’t been treated for anything pest-wise this year. We can find worms in WideStrike and also in Bollgard II but nothing at treatable levels. Where we are treating for stink bugs, we’re switching to a pyrethroid if we find escaped worms.”
Josh Thompson, Sales Rep, Helena Chemical Co, Florida Panhandle: “We started getting rain over the weekend and then today (8/17) and I’ve been rained out everyplace I’ve been today. Totals have run up to 4 inches in some locations. Most farms got at least some. Things were getting critical and the rain was very much needed.
“Cotton looks pretty good. Our very earliest planted fields are 25% to 30% open. Most cotton, though, is just starting to bloom out the top. Overall, things are tracking along and yield potential looks pretty good. Insect pressure has been below average and the crop has been pretty clean over the last couple of weeks. Target spot is showing up, especially on irrigated cotton. In some instances it’s too late to do anything, but treatments have gone out in places.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “People are still cleaning up some stink bugs, plus plant bugs have made a heavy move into certain places again. With the hot and dry conditions lately, it’s tricky to make decisions about whether to treat or let them go. Some growers want to finish that top crop, especially where the weather cost them fruiting positions earlier. Normally, we’d tell farmers not to protect those top 5 positions, but I’m not going to argue with anyone who decides to spray in these cases.
“We’ll just hope enough heat units accumulate to finish out those last bolls. Most people think they’ve got a reasonable chance to make that late fruit. Let me add that plenty of our cotton received better rainfall amounts and does have a good fruit load. But we have those areas where the crop took a hit between no rain and excessive heat.
“We’re in our bollworm season but pressure is very light across the state. The only complaints have been in varieties where we expect worms to come through. After all the extreme heat, we did slip into a cooler period but now we’re back in a warmer and more normal weather pattern for August. Rain is in the forecast to some extent. Some fell lately and caught people up on moisture in places.”
Trey Bullock, Bullock’s Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi: “We’ll defoliate some cotton in 7 to 10 days (from 8/18) in the Hattiesburg area and surrounding counties and over on the Mississippi River. In Hattiesburg we caught some rain and have a good cotton crop, generally speaking.
“Cotton is done and also has reached that point in a hurry. In 10 days or less some fields went from 7 to 8 NAWF to blooming out the top. Rainfall patterns have varied quite a bit this season. In one area we went from June 20 to last Tuesday (8/11) without rain, then got from a half-inch to 2 to 3 inches. Hot and dry weather have clearly hurt us in places. Even where we have great soil, plants can’t hold on very well if they go that long without rain and the heat index regularly hits 110. This won’t be a horrible crop but parts of it will be disappointing.
“Bugs have really been light. That’s made some late-season decisions easier. In a few fields where we were still looking for plant bugs, a lot of small fruit we might have tried to protect would probably fall off if it did rain. If it didn’t rain, they still were going to fall off. Since we didn’t find many plant bugs, we didn’t have to make those decisions.”
Christy Hicks, Auburn University Regional Extension Agent, Opelika, Alabama: “Spider mites are easy to find in some cotton. I don’t know of many people who have treated but several folks have sent me photos. In fields I’ve been in, mites were bad outside of areas the pivots could cover. Cotton was webbed up in some cases and shedding leaves, but it was a very localized situation in just a few fields.
“Lower bolls have started opening in April-planted cotton. I was in a field Sunday (8/17) where I found a lot more open bolls on the edges but even within the field I saw bolls cracking and a couple had opened pretty good.
“We had really nice rains across the area yesterday (8/16), which maybe helped with pockets of spider mites. Plenty of bean fields needed rain, so it was timely. More showers are in the forecast today and tomorrow.”
Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina: “It’s dry, really dry, and some pockets are quite parched. Everybody in our area needs water now, and we do have pretty good chances for rain this week. We had a promising cotton crop before the weather turned hot and dry and still have potential with certain maturity ranges in certain neighborhoods. But much of our crop has suffered over the last 7 to 10 days.
“At this point we’re probably in the last week of bloom where we have time to make a boll. It’s unfortunate that it turned dry 2 to 3 weeks before that point. Plants have kicked off a lot of small bolls by now. A little more bollworm pressure has developed than is typical and stink bugs are still a factor on cotton that’s a little less drought stressed. But by next week plenty of this cotton will be safe as far as insects go.”
Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama: “We’ve caught plenty of rain over most of our cotton lately. It’s wet today (8/18) and I’ve just taken my vehicle out of four-wheel drive again. With that 2 to 3 weeks of hot weather our cotton matured in a hurry and the bloom came up to the top fast. We lost some of our top crop. With the stress, plants just couldn’t hold it.
“We haven’t sprayed any fields for stink bugs and, based on the way bolls are progressing so fast, we probably won’t. Over the last few years we’ve had to make one application on most fields in the late season, sometimes for a combination of stink bugs and clouded plant bugs. But clouded plant bugs haven’t been here, either, at least not in our cotton. Cotton planted around April 20 is popping open pretty good in some of the earlier varieties.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “Cotton has been moving quickly after several weeks of hot weather. Some of our irrigated plots planted in mid May already have bolls all the way to the top. It’s hard to find a white bloom and many fields are pretty much done.
“We do have a continuing bollworm egg lay in parts of the state, even in some cotton that doesn’t have many blooms now. In plots that are pretty much done, we’re finding little eggs all over the top. The weather conditions lately could be hindering the Bt expression, so that might translate into insect issues with an elevated or extended egg lay. My trap captures are up from last week. We’re also dealing with scattered late-season stink bugs and some spider mite populations.”
Andrew Sawyer, Extension Agent, Thomas County, Georgia: “Some treatments have gone out for stink bugs, but they seem to be lighter than they were last year. I’ll look for them every time I go out but have not found a hit.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: “Over the last two weeks I’ve continued taking calls about spider mites. Some of our older cotton is approaching the point that we won’t have to worry about mites. We should look out for stink bugs in later planted cotton that still has bolls in the top that are less than 25 days old.
“A mix of southern green and brown stink bugs have turned up in peanuts, so they will move at some point to either late-maturing cotton or soybeans. But a lot of fields are beyond stink bug damage now. We can find open bottom bolls in most of the cotton planted in the latter part of April.
“This summer’s intense heat cost us some yield, more so than the lack of water. But the combination – high temperatures and no rain – was the biggest limiting factor I’ve seen this season.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia: “Cotton is progressing nicely – rapidly, actually. We’re starting to see a few open bolls as we drive across south Georgia, and it’s not necessarily in dryland fields. Where cotton was planted in April and early May, we probably would be seeing a few open bolls whether fields were irrigated or not.
“Some cotton is close to termination for insect sprays. The main pests we deal with at this point are stink bugs, and we do need to protect harvestable bolls until they’re about 25 days of age. Bug numbers remain variable, but we’re definitely treating in places.
“We’re seeing quite a few insects that are new for us, like the garden fleahopper. It turned up mainly in soybeans but we’re also seeing it in cotton. I don’t know that we’ve got any populations that are treatable but numbers are heavy in spots. It’s a small, black insect with big hind legs, and it literally jumps like a flea. It deposits black fecal spots on the undersides of leaves. The tops of leaves will have a stippled look that almost resembles spider mite injury. If people spray for stink bugs, that probably will take out this fleahopper, too.”
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