Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas: “It has been a brutal spring in the Upper Coast. It is one of the coolest I can remember. Everything is behind. That is following a super wet winter, one of the wettest on record.
“It finally dried up enough to let guys try to work their fields. But there is a lot of variability. I still have guys trying to finish planting. Others are trying to replant after the last rain. We’ve had a lot of chilling injuries on seed and complaints about poor seed vigor. But the soil was still too cold when they planted. For me, 65 degree is my bottom soil temperature for planting. I’d rather it be 70. Good dryland cotton does better with the soil temp at 68 to 70 degrees. My guys that waited are seeing a good-looking early crop.
“With all of the rain, we have lots of weeds. We’re already spraying a lot of fields, even after doing preemerge applications. The weather didn’t allow us to get good kills. I’m having to spray for weeds in cotelydon cotton.
“Thrips are showing up. It’s nothing terrible. But as cool as it has been, I’m not sure if our seed insecticide is holding up very well.
“Overall, we’re a solid month late in getting planted. A lot of people are worried but warmer temperatures are finally here. We’re seeing some growth. But stands are still slow in getting started.
“Down in the Corpus Christi area, there is finally some good-looking cotton after a lot of guys got blown out by sand. We had some blowing sand here too, but not as bad as Corpus. Some guys down there are actually on their 3rd replant. I hate to have to replant even once. This whole coast is going to see an interesting crop at harvest.
“In contrast, the Rio Grande Valley looks as good as I’ve seen in a long time. They’ve had good warm temperatures and deep moisture. Those fields look outstanding.”
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “Everything is behind in most of the Blacklands due to wetness. Some got planted early during a dry spell at the end of March, but not that many. That cotton is up and going, but the vast majority has not been planted. We’re at least 2 weeks behind and rain is forecast again tomorrow (5/1).
“On the positive side we have plenty of moisture for the crop. But with the moisture, we’re definitely going to need a lot of initiative to make sure the crop starts clean. We’ll need a good preplant burndown as well as residuals to control early weeds. At this point fields are clean. Since there’s not much planting yet, guys have more time to get herbicides out. Most weeds out there are winter weeds, like rye grass, that are wrapping up. But summer weeds will be coming on strong.
“Farmers have several options on herbicide technologies. There are a lot of options for those who are apprehensive about the risk associated with the dicamba and Enlist technologies. Even if they like the variety traits offered in those technologies, they can still use Roundup and Liberty to manage their weeds.
“Also, growers need to stay on top of nutrient management. Soil samples are needed to know where they’re starting the season with phosphorous and potassium. Those samples will also help them adjust their nitrogen needs.”
Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “We’re in the middle of planting and have a fair amount left to do. I’m on a planter this morning (4/30). Most of the western part is in, but it was late in getting planted. That cotton looks pretty decent. But some of it got rained on right when it came up. Thankfully, we’re not seeing a whole lot of replant.
“Weather has kept us behind this spring. We’ve had abnormally cool conditions and a lot of moisture. Some of the central part of the state got rain last night. The added moisture has compressed our planting season. We like to start the first part of April. I’d say we’re about 2 weeks behind schedule overall.
“We’re seeing more and more dicamba technology used, and now that we have a label for 2, 4-d technology, we will see more Enlist varieties as well.
“Glyphosate resistant pigweed is here. It’s not widespread, but we definitely have pockets around the state.”
Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma: “We’re shinning up the planters and trying to get started. We’ll see how the weather treats us with more rain in the forecast this week. Guys have been making herbicide applications to handle early weeds we’re seeing after good rainfall.
“This is the best late-winter, early-spring I’ve seen for a moisture profile. I’ve had 5.25 inches since the first of the year. It has all been slow and easy, not a lot of erosion. We just need some decent planting weather.
“We could see a few more peanut acres on farms that are a cotton/peanut rotation. There was a little better peanut contract this year. But it’s cotton that brought us to the dance. Our growers are good cotton producers and the market still looks good. We’re hoping it will get to 80 cents on the futures. We’re seeing some acre contracts as well as straight futures contracts. If the deal with China ever gets done, the market could get better.”