AgFax Midsouth Cotton: Rains Persist, Late Cotton In The Cards

Owen Taylor, Editor
Questions, comments, complaints? My door is always open.

Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by
the Midsouth Cotton Team of AMVAC Chemical Corporation.


Rain – or the chance of it — curtailed cotton planting this week across parts of the Midsouth. Heavy amounts were in the forecast. Cotton planting continued at least in the early part of the week but some growers held off planting this week altogether.

The meteorologists weren’t bluffing. As we closed out our calls on Wednesday afternoon, the initial weather front already had moved across much of Arkansas and west Louisiana and was edging across the Mississippi River. The forecast calls for several days of additional rain. All that will keep many growers out of the field during a portion of next week.

Cottonseed availability was likely a factor among farmers who either quit planting early in the week or who didn’t plant at all. Seed is in short supply, so any replanting could be problematic, aside from issues with weak germ and smaller seed size among some varieties.

Cotton acres still could go up in the region, based on feedback from our contacts this week. But they continue to site limiting factors, aside from continued wet weather. For one thing, gins are trying to limit the amount of cotton existing customers can plant. Several gins, we’re told, have turned away new customers.

How much picking capacity will be available this fall is yet another question. Growers jumping into cotton after several years out of it no longer have pickers. Many will have to rely on custom harvesters who, like the gins, may already have all the acres they can handle.



Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi:

“Probably less than 15% of my cotton has been planted (as of 5/7). Of that, 50% is up to a stand. We planted last week ahead of a 3-inch rain. Some of that came up pretty good, some hasn’t yet, and I’m assessing how the seed looks where cotton hasn’t emerged. In places, emergence has been highly variable.

“A lot of people held off planting ahead of that rain and took care of other things. Some worked land for the first time since last fall or planted soybeans.

“Our cotton acres are supposed to be up, but I can’t say if that will hold or how much of anything we’ll have until water comes off fields. Of the acreage I work, 15% to 20% is either covered up or the water has backed up on the low ends. Some of the corn ground growers wanted to plant was too wet or under water when they needed to plant, so part of that shifted to cotton.

“Probably 30% of my soybeans have been planted and 50% of that is up. We’re a solid 2 weeks behind on soybean planting. In corn, we’ve been spraying stink bugs, and they’re more widespread in corn than usual.”

Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri:

“Cotton planting is under way. While some growers haven’t started yet, one larger operation is through. The forecast calls for possible rain on Thursday and maybe over the weekend. Hopefully, we won’t get much out of that and there won’t be any major interruption.

“My cotton acres definitely will be up. A couple of guys who got out of cotton 5 years ago are back this year. Everyone who’s been in cotton seems to be planning to plant more, provided it quits raining. It’s not that the cotton market has been great but other markets aren’t particularly attractive. Most of the expansion in cotton will be at the expense of soybeans.

“People will stick with some corn, mainly for rotation benefits. Growers with corn planted all they intended to have, I think.”

Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:

“We’re probably 40% finished with cotton planting and it’s coming up good. We’re wet right now (5/7) and will be wetter tomorrow if the forecast for rain holds. But we had a pretty good run last week. In fact, the cotton I have so far was all planted last week, and it came up fast.

“My acres were down significantly last year but will be up almost 3X from what they were in 2018. With cotton, things are back like they used to be. More cotton would be planted if we had more gins. People should be okay with what they’re planting now but I doubt if there will be any excess ginning capacity this fall.”

Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

“We started planting cotton last week and some has emerged. Burndown was good and we had rain to set up our preemerge program. It rained about 2 inches over the weekend (5/4-5) and that kept us out of the field, but we’re running again today (5/7).


“Rain is in the forecast later this week, so that has to be taken into account. There’s a limited seed inventory in the high-demand varieties, with some issues with germ specs. I’ve heard of cases where farmers had to sign waivers that they knew the germ was lower than normal with certain varieties they intended to plant.

“It’s a little amazing how well planting has gone so far after it had rained here for 7 straight months. In the first 40% of 2019 we received over 30 inches of rain in this area, which is 60% of our annual rainfall average.

“We’ve probably planted 40% of the cotton we will have. Rain – with potentially heavy amounts – is in the forecast for Thursday and into Sunday. Growers will plant today and tomorrow and then I think they’ll hold back off until it’s dry enough again.

“Our cotton acres will be about the same. With the weather that’s coming, I don’t think we can increase our cotton acres that much more. When it does dry up again, we’ll be into the second half of May, and it will be kind of touchy to get more in after that.”

Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:

“We’re making planting progress but also are paying attention to the weather forecast, which calls for heavy rains on Thursday and steady rain chances for a few days after that. Several growers said they’ve stopped planting and will wait to see what happens with the rain.

“Seed quality has generated several recent questions about how to deal with low germ and smaller seed. We do have warm temperatures and adequate moisture, so planting conditions are very good. But I am concerned about this heavy rainfall in the forecast and slightly cooler temperatures. None of that is extreme. So, the best answer about these seed issues has been to take into account these lower-than-average germ and smaller seed size, then adjust your seeding rates up a little to compensate.

“Across our cotton counties, I’m seeing tremendous progress with planting and I think that we’re 25% to 35% planted. Next week should be a big week for planting once we get through the rain and fields dry up. At that point, farmers will be moving at full speed.”

Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:

“Planting is much further along than I initially thought. A consultant in southeast Arkansas told me on Sunday in a text that they were 70% planted in his area and 30% had emerged. It’s been a little drier down there compared to our central and northern counties.

“As you go north, for example, they’re maybe 50% planted around Marianna. Some of those growers, though, are planting peanuts first, which is affecting progress on cotton planting. In our northeastern counties, the weather has had more of an effect. Agents in a couple of northeast counties put planting progress at 5% to 10% to maybe 15%.

“Some people are still planting (as of 5/7) in dry fields but everyone also is watching the forecast, which says it could rain 3 to 4 inches starting in the second half of the week. Hard-packing rains could cause crusting, which would keep seedlings from emerging unless that soil stays moist.

“This is kind of a precarious situation because seed supplies are tight, especially in popular varieties, so you don’t want to push yourself into having to replant a bunch of acres. If I were farming, I don’t think I’d be brave enough to keep planting ahead of these storms.

“Another concern is keeping up with preemerge herbicides. A couple of consultants said their growers had stopped planting because the planters had gotten so far ahead of their spray rigs. In places, cotton also was coming up and seedlings were stressed some. Consultants wanted to know if applying Roundup would hurt those small plants.

“In that case, you sure don’t want to mix anything with Roundup. My thinking is that it’s better to spray now and maybe ding up the plants a little than to wait until it’s dry enough to get the sprayer in the field again. By then, you could have a real mess on your hands, considering that we’re looking at several days of rain.

“It’s important not to let these weeds get away from you early. They’ll compete with cotton and hurt yields. By harvest, most people have generally forgotten about all the weeds they contended with early in the season and can’t put a finger on why yields are less than they expected. In fact, those weeds took a toll. Once the crop takes a hit from that early competition, you can’t buy back that time or do anything to compensate for how the crop was held back early on. Where cotton already has been planted, we have got to stay on top of weeds.”

David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi:

“Maybe 10% to 15% of our cotton has been planted and that went in last week. It has all pretty much emerged.

“We’re waiting now for this predicted rain to pass through, and nobody has planted cotton this week to my knowledge. Along with the rain, the weather is supposed to be cooler. So, growers are keeping the seed in the sack for the time being. The really good varieties are in short supply, so if you’re forced into replanting, that could be an issue.

“If you feel a little scared about jumping in there and planting ahead of this weather system, that’s not a bad thing.


“Cotton acres will be up and soybean acres will be way down. Ginning capacity will be an issue with how much cotton our growers may finally plant. Gins don’t want to commit to any more cotton. As it was, one gin was still running until February 20 this year.

“We’ve finished planting corn. Our best yielding corn years tend to start with dry spring weather, which isn’t the case this year. In places, corn looks really good but we’re also seeing some that’s yellow and spots where it’s drowned out. You can tell we’ve had too much rain. So, yields will be off to a degree this year after a couple of years with strong averages.”

Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas:

“We’re rolling pretty hard. On the high ground, we’ve planted about 50% of those acres and are maybe 25% finished in the bottoms. A small amount of cotton emerged this week, enough to call it a stand and it looks good. We haven’t had any emergence issues.

“Cotton acres in the area will be up maybe 10%, I think. One thing holding us back on more acreage is picker capacity. Some growers are returning to cotton but don’t own pickers, so they’ll rely on someone else to pick it for them.

“Any increase in cotton acreage is mainly coming out of soybeans. Soybean prices weren’t all that favorable, even before all this tariff business, and some of this reduction in soybean plantings also is driven by landlords. Plus, we had poor soybean harvest conditions last fall with all the problems that creates.

“I haven’t seen a soybean planter running this week (as of 5/7), only cotton and corn planters.

“We can probably go another 2 weeks on corn planting. I think a lot of guys figure it’s better to plant corn later than soybeans now. We’ll have quite a bit more peanuts. There’s now a new shelling plant in the area with a couple of buying points. In Lee County, we’ve been averaging about 2,000 acres of peanuts a year but offhand I can think of 5,000 acres that will be planted this year.”

Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist:

“We’re 20% to 30% planted. Things stalled out this past weekend due to rain. A little more has been planted this week (as of 5/8) but we’re about to get a deluge of rain over the next 3 to 4 days, so a lot of people are holding back. It’s sprinkling right now.

“Temperatures are great for planting cotton if the rain would just hold off. People have been trying to work through all kinds of scenarios about how they should plant this week, like going shallow and hoping for the best. Growers like to have all their cotton planted by May 15, which will be a tough mark to hit if the forecast holds true.

“June 1 is kind of the unofficial very last planting date in Louisiana. We don’t like to plant cotton in late May but this year soybeans aren’t too attractive. But after June 1, we’ll see any remaining ground going into beans.”

AgFax Midsouth 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.
©2019 AgFax Media LLC

The Latest

Send press releases to

View All Events

Send press releases to

View All Events