Texas High Plains: Crops Dive Right into Heavy Management Mode

General Status

Much like we felt last week, fields seem to be flying from a stage when concern and tender care were needed straight to heavy management required quite seamlessly. I generally feel that  most of the care and management givers rather need a breather between the two stages before the  latter go too intense.

Nonetheless there are a lot of important developments occurring in most of  our fields this week. Most cotton fields are blooming and setting their first fruit with the later ones  getting pushed by any means possible to catchup (if possible), earlier corn and sorghum are  pollinating and / or in early grain development, later corn and sorghum fields are setting head and  ear sizes.

The issues fields are having immediate needs depends greatly on situation but include  weeds, heat, irrigation, PGRs, fertilizer, the occasional pest, and damage recovery.

We can note  that pests remain low on the list of common issues but they remain on the list and we still have  reports from the Southern areas of Texas of several pests that could be migrating our way bringing  plenty of trouble with them. For that, we will just have to remain vigilant while trying to manage  this crop through the important stages they are moving through.

Cotton

This week our PPM scouting program cotton ranged between 1/3 grown square stage and 5.2 nodes above white flower (NAWF). I would estimate that over 80% of our cotton fields are sporting blooms and can be measured by the NAWF stages with another 15% very close. The bulk of our fields ranged between 6 and 8.7 NAWF.

Most fields first bloom occurred between the 7th and 9th node but there were a considerable number that started at the 5th to 6th. Those later fields had been a concern for lateness and appeared to be intentionally stressed a touch, and perhaps a touch too much. Producers look to be correcting that as quickly as wells and pivots and start making revolutions.

Cotton pests this week were very quiet. We had a few fleahopper fields last week, but none followed suit this week with many fields moving past economic fleahopper damage.

The remaining fields, not to that NAWF measurement stage where fleahoppers would prefer to feed on easily accessible pollen than hard to penetrate squares for their protein needs, are still in that dangerous time when we know the pest will not be an issue in a matter of days but we cannot afford the additional fruit loss if the fleahopper’s population increases.

We still have several fields where beneficials and fleahoppers are balancing near ET while that fleahopper finish line nears.

We are picking up more Lygus in our fields, but none were at ET. Our highest field for Lygus held 1 Lygus / 6.4 row feet this week with 16.7% fruit drop. Lygus will be a significant pest until bolls reach 350 heat unit accumulation.

The areas of concern I see for Lygus this week are nearby recently cut alfalfa fields and recently mowed or shredded highway medians. Alfalfa, clover, and a few other roadside plants are all preferred hosts for Lygus.

When disturbed, Lygus will move to the next preferred host, cotton. I noted a TexDot highway crew about ¾ the way across Swisher moving  south down I-27 this week and a few farm to market roads in Floyd recently mowed.

We have not noted any boll worms or fall armyworm eggs or larva  in any cotton yet.

Corn & Sorghum

Our young corn this week reached V6 to V7 this week while our older field moved into early dough. With still very little happening pest wise in our younger corn, the older seemed to make up for it. We now note 80% – 90% infested with bollworm (corn earworms) larva but no fall armyworms yet.

The CEW should not be of any economic concern as they will only feed on the ear tips and will cannibalize until only one worm remains in the tip. We remain watchful for FAW but we are only finding them in younger sorghum and at a very light rate.

Herbicide Resistance Info


Meanwhile, Banks grass mites were very resurgent in the heat this week. We noted that the newer mite colonies were not ‘starting’ out on the lower leaves but rather from the ear leaf and above. This might be an indicator of additional migration into the field but seemed to be evenly distributed across the field.

Our damage rating for the BGM rose from last week’s 0.38 to an interesting 1.28 on the 0-10 damage scale. The mite specific predators of six-spotted thrips and mite destroyers remained at a profitable level. We will see if they can keep the mites in check for another week or not.

Without the sudden appearance of these predators last week, I am confident this field would be nearing the ET of 3.5-4 on the 0-10 damage scale.

Our sorghum ranged from V7 to 80% bloom. We still have not noted any sorghum midge or headworms of any type in booted sorghum, but about 1% to 5% of older whorl sorghum contain very light FAW damage.

Thanks to some of our outstanding independent crop consultants doing an excellent job, the sugarcane aphid (SCA) has been confirmed in several Floyd County sorghum fields. The SCA colonies found were small and just starting to establish.

With the reports from South Texas of an ‘easier to get along with SCA’ this year we can hope that we too will see fields not have to be treated this year, especially with other IPM SCA strategies in place. Early planting and resistant hybrid use along with predator management and / or saving should hold benefits this year.

We have not found any SCA in our program sorghum yet and the yellow sugarcane aphid (YSCA) remains our top pest this week. We had one dryland field reach ET for the YSCA but it remains a tough decision to treat.

The field is experiencing serious drought stress which does force the YSCA farther up the plant and exacerbates the damage caused. If the field receives moisture soon, a decision to treat the YSCA would be easier but treating the YSCA in this case would not help the field without more moisture.

With moisture in the forecast this weekend, hopefully this decision will be easier Monday.


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