Virginia Cotton: Pix, Boron Becoming Priority, Insect Issues Remain Low

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Good general rainfall averages from around a half inch to over 3 inches in some spots are going to make decisions regarding growth regulators much simpler.

Some cotton is over 30 inches tall and really growing while other cotton looks like it will never need pix. Ultimately nitrogen, soil type, and prior rain seem to be a common theme for the difference.

If cotton is blooming or just beginning to bloom and is 24 inches tall or less, then pix should be delayed until more vigorous growth resumes. I also believe it is just as important to get some pix on younger cotton that is already 24 inches tall and may not bloom for another week or more. Most farmers will add a half a shot of boron to this trip as well.

The dilemma on this prebloom/early bloom spray will be whether or not to add something in for plant bugs. Typically plant bugs develop slowly prior to blooming, occasionally getting some squares, but the majority of fields maintain 90% of the squares prior to bloom. This year seems even lower than average as even the hot spots are holding over 80%.

So while I am quite sure most of our cotton is safe for a while, it is still mighty cheap to add the neonics to a planned trip. The major concern I have for this approach is that it could give farmers a false sense of security.

In my experience, the materials don’t last long and if you have a hot field, it could still get damage. Still, there is generally no harm, just don’t let it replace any insect management steps during the high risk period from the second week of bloom through about the 5 week of bloom.

Herbicide Resistance Info

I personally prefer to keep checking the cotton rather than rely insurance sprays, particularly when I am basically finding extremely high retention, because not spraying maintains higher beneficial populations during this low insect risk period.

Whichever approach you take, keep in mind that neonics are not labeled for blooming cotton, so once we get to that second and third week of bloom, we will switch to pyrethroids.

A few other tid-bits:

  • Cotton compensation for square loss changes over time. It is essentially 100% in June, and very good for the first half of July. By Mid-July, we start shifting to more risk from fruit loss when considering compensations time.
  • Light land usually has fewer plant bugs
  • Light land and earlier planting dates actually benefit from losing a few squares by reducing a heavy fruit load all at one time, particularly for dry land production. Losing a few squares prebloom can reduce the heavy shed that occurs during dry weather once the crop sets bolls. This can reduce premature cutout particularly with light soils planted early.
  • Rank land and late planting dates and perhaps irrigated cotton are the opposite and are less forgiving of losing squares. Holding a higher early crop for these situations helps hold rank growth down and favors timelier cutout.


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