AgFax Southwest Cotton: Weather Delays, Weeds Popping

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Cotton planters in the Southwest are revving up where weather permits — and in plenty of places the weather isn’t permitting.


    Larry Stalcup, Field Editor

    Welcome to our 7th season of AgFax Southwest Cotton covering cotton in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arizona. We’re excited to have you onboard for our 29th year of publishing crop newsletters.

    Many thanks to the PhytoGen Cotton Team for their continued support and sponsorship.



    Planters are revving up where weather allows. Rain has delayed planting in many parts of our coverage area and given weeds a head start. 

    Hard blowing 30 to 35 mph winds and sand have been giving young plants a hard time around Corpus Christi where some growers are on their 3rd replant.

    It’s too cold to plant and “bone dry” around Dimmit. But Kyle Aljoe says that hasn’t stopped some growers.

    From our sponsor…



    Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus: “Some folks with irrigation started planting last week in the Oklahoma Panhandle. They had some warmer weather in the 70s and 80s and had received some good rains. As far north as they’re located, they figure they’re going to be short on heat units at one end of the season or the other. They’re trying to capitalize on good planting conditions as much as they can.

    “With the forecast for more rain across much of the state in the next 2 weeks, many more growers should be in the fields with planters. It’s really key for growers to get off to a quick start.

    “Since that region and other parts of the state have had some moisture, weeds are popping up before planting. They are able to spray and take care of some weeds that will be problems down the road. After planting, everyone needs to scout for more weeds and potential thrips pressure. They also should have a production plan ready and be able to adapt it as needed.

    “We’ve had some good offseason grower meetings to learn more about the new technologies and how they should be handled. We’re into year 3 of the new weed management technologies and year 4 of having newer varieties. Many folks are in a better comfort zone with the new technologies, and there has been a lot more grower-to-grower communication about using them.”

    Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “With rain and warm temperatures in the forecast for this week, conditions should be good for planting later in May. Some planters were rolling south of Lubbock and into Terry County last week but rain this week will probably hold up most everyone until next week.

    “Fields are looking pretty clean. A lot of dryland fields that failed last year look good for planting. Many of those growers put in a wheat cover crop to offset wind erosion. Covers are being terminated. Overall, growers are doing a good job with early weed control. Not a lot of fields have been neglected.

    “We’re encouraging guys to watch closely for thrips after they plant. We need young plants to have every chance they can to make a good stand. Growers will need to make sure their seed treatments are holding up and determine if they need to treat for thrips.

    “There has been a big effort by Extension and industry to make sure growers are up to speed on the auxin herbicides. We saw good attendance from growers at various training sessions. These new technologies are good for our cotton producers and we need to make sure they are used according to the label.”

    Haley Kennedy, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Runnels, Tom Green & Concho Counties: “It will be at least mid-May before growers begin planting cotton out here. They’re waiting on some moisture and we’re supposed to be wet later this week. Fields are clean, although there are a few baby weeds being treated with preemerge applications.

    “Some wild oats are showing up in wheat, and there has also been some stripe rust and leaf rust in some fields.

    “I’m doing sorghum stand counts today (4/29). People have been planting the last couple of weeks. Sorghum fields are pretty clean so far.”

    Robert Flynn, New Mexico State University Extension Soils/Agronomist, Artesia: “Our area is looking pretty good. Planting is progressing very well. I checked some fields this morning (4/30) and the planters are rolling. Hopefully rain later this week won’t slow them down, but we’ll take the rain if we can get it. Just south of here plants are in the cotelydon stage. Fields are clean and don’t have weed pressure.

    From our sponsor…


    “We typically plant cotton right after growers take out an alfalfa field. That means there is some volunteer alfalfa in places. It usually gets cultivated in as the season goes on.

    “It’s too early to know of any thrips pressure. Guys will need to stay ahead of any insect problems. We’re late in planting at the NMSU research farm in Artesia, but we’ll be following insect pressure closely.

    “Alfalfa is really big in our area. The crop is variable right now. Some are seeing their first cutting around Artesia. Growers had their first cutting in the Las Cruces area last week. A lot of triticale will be cut as forage for area dairies. Those farms will then go into corn.”

    Orlando Flores, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, El Paso County: “Drought conditions really impacted our irrigation allotment this season. Our estimated planted acres are about 7000, down from around 20,000 acres last year. Most local cotton farmers are pecan producers as well. They would rather use water on existing pecan orchards. 

    “I would assume all Pima cotton has been planted. Upland planting should be finished within the next week. 

    “We did get some rain last week, 0.2 inches in some areas, while others received substantially more. The Upper Valley/Mesilla Valley region received over 1 inch in places, as did parts of Hudspeth County. We are looking forward to a record runoff from the mountains this year, so Elephant Butte Reservoir water storage is predicted to be really good.”

    Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi: “Our cotton is all over the place with all of the wind and sand erosion we’ve had. A few early planted fields are at about the 6-leaf stage but most is at 4-leaf. We have a lot of fields that are still being replanted and some are being re-replanted a second time.

    “Some of the replanted cotton is getting blown again this week with winds at 30 to 35 mph. Guys are doing as good of a job as they can, running rotary hoes to help stop blowing sand from hurting young plants. We usually don’t have this hard of a time with blowing. But this year has been non-stop, day-after-day.

    “We have good moisture, so if we can finally get everything planted we should be in good shape. The corn and sorghum look fantastic. We just need for it to stop blowing so we can get all of the cotton started.”

    Tom Studnicka, Studnicka Consulting, Belle Plaine, Kansas: “It’s still too early for planting cotton, but there will be a lot of acres going in when conditions are right. Last year’s production was off the chart and guys are eager to plant more. We keep getting a lot of rain that has created an early weed situation. Some fields are wooly. With the rain, guys have been slow in getting burndowns applied. There will be a lot of catching up to do along with getting pre-emerge down.

     “It looks like we’ll see a lot more Enlist cotton this year. From the fields I check, it’s probably 40% Enlist and 60% dicamba. There’s kind of a line at I-35. There have been more 2, 4-d issues west of I-35, so guys west of there are going with the Enlist technology.

    “We’re behind on planting corn – about 70% completed from Wichita south. Some guys are hoping to get early beans planted if it ever stops raining. Wheat looks pretty fair and good for guys who planted early. But others had to wait until after a long fall wet spell before they could plant. They will see an average crop at best.”

    Kyle Aljoe, Crop Quest Consulting, Dimmitt, Texas: “Some guys are planting cotton and they shouldn’t be because it’s still too cold. I took soil temperatures last week and they were in the mid-40s and up to mid-50s today (4/29). That’s too cold to plant cotton. I’m glad none of my guys are in a big hurry. They know better. They’ve seen seed jump out of the ground after 10 days, then face big trouble when cold weather returns.

    “It should be 7 to 10 days before they plant. Some fields have a wheat or oats cover crop. Guys are getting ready for termination before planting them in cotton. We’re just now putting corn in the ground. Some growers will break from planting corn to plant cotton then come back to corn. Most are waiting to plant corn silage.

     “While other parts of the Panhandle have received some good rainfall, we’re bone dry. We may have had 2 inches since January. We’ve missed the good rain they’ve had around Hereford just 20 miles away and further north toward Amarillo. Our dryland wheat is drying up. Some fallow fields where we plan to plant cotton need an inch of rain before that’s feasible.

    “There is rain in the forecast this week, but we’ve heard that before. Still, guys who are supposed to be cutting triticale and wheat silage are holding off because they don’t want it setting on the ground if it does rain.”

    From our sponsor…


    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.”

    AgFax Southwest Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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