“Peanut planting seemed to start a little earlier than usual and we’re probably 70% finished. Soils warmed up a little earlier compared to last year, which helped. With cotton, we’re 40% to 50% finished.
“After dealing with hurricane Michael last year, growers are still a little nervous and wanted to start as soon as possible. Our cotton wasn’t nearly as devastated as in the worst-hit areas, but we did sustain some yield and quality loss. Some loss was due to the hurricane but we also took a hit from heavy amounts of rain.
“Speaking from our standpoint as a peanut buying point, earlier peanut planting and an earlier peanut harvest means growers could potentially make an earlier start on picking cotton, which gets put on the back burner a little.”
Mark Freeman, Extension Area Agronomist, East Georgia, Statesboro:
“Planting conditions are great. Some areas of the state received rain over the weekend. In places, growers might have wanted a little bit more than they received. But in many locations, it rained enough but not so much to bog things up in the field.
“Overall, conditions for field work have been quite good. The rain kept people out of the field short-term but we’re running again now (5/7). NASS had us at 23% planted, up from 12% the previous week, so we’ve obviously made progress.”
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 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 the 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 we’re about to have, 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.”
Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM, Marianna, Florida:
“Planting is underway and most everyone who has a planter is either running it or working on it to get it ready. A big portion of our growers actually started right after Easter in that third week of April, and we’re about 15% to 20% done with cotton now (5/7). Planting activity should start ramping up now.
“The big issue is that most pivots in the county went down during the hurricane (Michael) and everyone has been pushing to get them upright and running again. A lot of planting so far has been in dryland fields while growers also were dealing with pivot repairs. Just driving around, it looks like most of our pivots are standing up again but I can’t say how many are functional. A good deal of electrical work has been required, and that has been progressing slowly but surely.
“A lot of people are trying to figure out what to do in terms of preemerge herbicides. With pivots, they can water in the materials if it doesn’t rain. But if a pivot can’t run yet, a grower has to deal with that field like it’s in dryland production.
“Some peanuts are up to about 3 true leaves, and it’s rare to have them that far along this early. People are pushing hard to make an early start, keeping in mind what happened with Michael. We lost about 90% of the cotton crop and 50% of the peanut crop.
“With peanuts, growers were essentially finished with harvest but the buying points were heavily damaged by the storm and a good deal of the crop was ruined. At one buying point, 105 wagons were soaked by all the rain and those peanuts had to be dumped.
“Part of the loss also was where growers still had peanuts in the field and were delayed by all the rain, aside from the fact that some growers had to dig equipment out of barns that Michael destroyed. By the time they could start on peanut harvest again, yields and quality were down to nothing.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:
“The main insect calls I’m getting this week are about brown stink bugs in corn, and people are spraying on almost a wall-to-wall basis in parts of southwest Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
“This is in knee-high corn, and growers are treating to reduce populations. In a number of fields, they’re finding stink bugs on a third of the plants. We had a mild winter, and the insects overwintered in kudzu, buildings, hedgerows and other habitat. If stink bugs were in soybeans last year but weren’t sprayed, it’s logical to find them now.
“If they’re on a third of the plants, this is a time to be proactive. The insect has a long lifecycle and can live up to 30 days, laying eggs during that period to crank out the next generation. Spraying now would be the easiest and most efficient step because you can easily go in by ground.
“Waiting to treat that next generation means corn will be tasseling, and it might not be as easy to go in with a ground rig. Plus, you don’t know what the weather will be like then. Maybe you can get in the field, maybe you can’t.