Texas West Plains IPM Update: Large Cotton Losses Due to Hail; Insects are Quiet

Corn stalks are all that remain in a Texas field hit by hail and wind in July. Photo: Kerry Siders, Texas AgriLife Extension Agent

Needless to say again, we have been through the wringer the last several weeks. My prayer now is that we have good open weather from here on out with gentle, timely rains, and a great long fall. On the bright side we have good soil moisture for mid-July and the temperatures are almost ideal.  

Based on the IPM scouting program fields here is what the average cotton plant looks like:

Average number of total nodes is 12 (range 5 to 15) 1st fruiting branch at node 7 (range 5-9) Square retention of 1st positions is 93% (range 72-100%) Node length is 0.8″ (range of 0.5″-1.6″) Plant populations average 34,500 per acre (range 19,200 to 56,000) Nodes above white flower 9 (currently only one field blooming) I began finding blooms and small bolls on Tuesday, July 11, mostly in Cochran County.

I project we should go into bloom with 8.5 nodes above white bloom. This places first bloom on a majority of those fields which have escaped much damage near July 24, with remaining fields hitting first bloom after this date through the later part of August. Just recall that August 20 is the date when we can say with some confidence that a boll formed on that day will have time to mature out. Anything formed after that point the odds of it have time to mature out decrease greatly.

It remains very quiet currently on the cotton insect front. I would really watch fleahoppers and Lygus on this late cotton that is squaring up.

Click here to read this week’s AgFax Southwest Cotton covering fields in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Arizona.

My priority list for the upcoming week:

  1. Keep close watch fleahoppers and Lygus bugs on young squaring cotton.
  2. Stay on top of weed control, cultivate, hoe, whatever it takes to keep the pigweed from going to seed. It’s a numbers game.
  3. If you still have fertilizer to go out let’s get it in place before the end of this month. This applies even to late cotton. Late fertilizer applications will only delay maturity.
  4. Look at the top 3-4 nodes on your cotton, if longer than 1.5″ consider additional plant growth regulator. Call and we can visit more about this.

We (local/regional producers and our agriculture industry) are not the only ones who are interested in what is going on here. Because we are the “largest cotton patch” in the world, people are interested in the good and the bad of what goes on here for many reasons.

Last week’s weather and many weather events prior to the 4th of July storms has caused great losses here on the West Plains. I have estimated that Hockley County has lost 40% of its planted cotton acres. That is in the 100,000 acre range. Cochran County has lost near 55% of its cotton acres, that’s another 100,000. Lamb County is not as bad, but suffice to say they have had significant losses as well, and not just cotton acres.

Private Pesticide Applicators Training 2017 Cochran, Hockley and Lamb Counties

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will offer the required private Pesticide Applicators Training (PAT) in Morton, Levelland and Littlefield throughout 2017. This training is required by Texas Department of Agriculture before taking the exam for obtaining the license. A private pesticide applicator is a person who uses or supervises the use of a restricted-use or state limited-use pesticide or a regulated herbicide for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity. This license is not for those receiving monetary compensation for a pesticide application.

To participate in a training individuals must call 806-894-3159 by 3pm the day prior (Wednesday) to the trainings in Levelland; 806-385-4222 ext 235 by 3pm the day prior (Wednesday) to the trainings in Littlefield; or 806-266- 5215 by 3pm the day prior to any trainings in Morton. The trainings will begin promptly at 1pm at the Extension Offices (see addresses below). There is a $60 fee for training materials. This is only the required training. Testing will be conducted at a separate time and location.

Future PAT Trainings:

  • July 20 Levelland Extension Office 1212 Houston Street
  • August 28 Morton Extension Office 200 W. Taylor Avenue
  • September TBA Littlefield Extension Office, Courthouse, Room B-5
  • October 19 Levelland Extension Office 1212 Houston Street
  • November 6 Morton Extension Office 200 W. Taylor Avenue
  • December TBA Littlefield Extension Office, Courthouse, Room B-5



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