Cotton – Midsouth – Shortening Maturity In A Late Crop? See Simple Tip From Darrin Dodds – AgFax Midsouth Cotton

    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


    Stopping and starting. That’s how cotton planting has progressed through much of our coverage area. It rains and keeps growers out of the field for days on end. When it’s dry enough to jump in the field again, more rain soon follows, growers pull back and the cycle starts again.

    How to shorten maturity? At least one step seems fairly simple. See comments by Darrin Dodds.

    Farmers returning to cotton for the first time in several years are facing an array of challenges. See comments by Hank Jones.

    Thrips seem to be a non-issue, based on comments this week. The rain apparently washed them off, at least for now.



    Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist:

    “I don’t know of anywhere that missed the rain that started last Thursday (5/9) and ran into the weekend. At my house (near Starkville) it rained 5.5 inches. In the Delta, people say they poured 4 inches out of the gauge and I’ve also heard totals up to 6 inches in places.

    “A few guys said they might start planting again today (5/15). The biggest concern right now is that the day for triggering prevented planting coverage is about 10 days away and folks are getting nervous about planting past that insurance date. Some will.

    “People also are trying to figure out how to shorten the maturity of this crop since it’s running late. We’re not to the point that I would encourage switching to a shorter-season variety. However, look closely at your nitrogen rate. This year, consider trimming it back because higher N rates delay maturity. That’s well documented by research.

    “This will be a season to remember. We’ve had crops that started late but not many where the vast majority of the acreage was planted on the backside of May 15. I can’t recall the specific year and don’t have access to those numbers right now, but I remember one season when maybe 60% of the cotton was planted after May 15. By comparison, we’re perhaps 10% planted now, maybe less.

    “On the positive side, we have plenty of planting capacity and can move quickly when conditions improve. I’m not in panic mode yet. That said, things could change if it rains over this coming weekend. The growers with real problems still have ruts, which means they can’t plant until they deal with that, so they’ll be pushed back more.”

    Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton and Corn Specialist:

    “We’re about 35% planted across the state but hardly anything is happening right now (5/15). Starting late last week and into the weekend (5/11-12), it rained 5 to 10 inches across the state. Things are mostly at a standstill and it will be 2 or maybe 3 days before people can get in the field again to any extent. Rain is in the forecast again for Sunday (5/19).

    “Normally, we like to have cotton planted by May 10-15, so we’re way behind. The cotton that’s up looks pretty good, considering the rain. Thank goodness for those warm temperatures. Thrips aren’t an issue, which is probably due to the rain.”

    Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

    “We’re between 40% and 60% finished with cotton planting (as of 5/14). I don’t have a more precise number than that because every time we get ready to plant again, it rains. With all the starting and stopping, it’s difficult to say how much farmers got done. Of the cotton that’s been planted, 95% is probably up.

    “We had a short dry spell but then it rained two nights ago (5/12). It maybe only rained 3 tenths of an inch, but when the ground already is saturated, 3 tenths can look like 3 inches. It’s been the frequency of the rains, not the totals. We really haven’t had any gully washers that take the crop from you. It’s staying wet just enough to throw off everything.

    “Aside from all the planting delays, the weeds are beating us to the field and we’re trying to get everything sprayed. One of the biggest hurdles is that we’re past the legal cutoff, April 15, when we can mix dicamba with glyphosate in Arkansas. That’s really complicating our burndown program ahead of planting.

    “At this point, dicamba can be tank mixed with approved products but glyphosate has to be applied separately. Options are somewhat limited. We may run dicamba with Select to pick up some grass or just bypass dicamba and go with Liberty and Roundup. Nothing is ideal.

    “With some guys, if we can’t use dicamba in our preemerge system, then we’re having to go to post-emerge herbicides that we’d typically use in-crop. In beans, for example, we’re doing burndown with things like Liberty and Zidua or Liberty and Warrant for cotton. It’s not an approach we’d usually take but it’s an option when we can’t spray dicamba.

    “We’re doing a lot more aerial work where possible but it’s not delivering the coverage we’d expect with a ground rig.

    “Guys are planting in some areas today (5/14) but it’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. Maybe we’ll be able to plant on Saturday but then rain is in the forecast for Sunday. It’s been a horrible cycle – starting, stopping, starting, stopping.


    “If there’s anything positive, herbicides that already went out were activated. Where we have planted, those fields are clean. We just can’t get anything else planted. On the Bollgard II, we didn’t use an in-furrow insecticide and are now finding a lot of cutworms in that cotton in one area. We haven’t sprayed this much Ammo since the 1990s.”

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

    “We got more rain over the weekend (5/11-12) than expected, and most places (as of 5/14) are still pretty wet. Areas south of Interstate 40 seemed to get more than areas north of the interstate but it was enough to really slow us down. Also, we had two really cool nights. Last night, it dropped into the upper 40s and the night before that it was in the low 50s.

    “Another rain is coming tonight and/or tomorrow. We had hoped to make more progress but the weather clearly hasn’t cooperated. After tomorrow, though, we’re supposed to move into a warming trend with only slight chances of rain for 3 or 4 days. And then in the middle of next week there’s a chance for another good rain.

    “If we could miss one rain, things would really turn around. It’s been a very frustrating spring. We’ll get enough rain to shut things down. Once it dries up and we can get in the field again, it rains yet again. We’ve been through 3 or 4 cycles like that.

    “Ideally, we aim to have cotton all planted by May 25. Past that, we can see yields decline. It will require a big push to hit that goal when we can be in the field again.”

    Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:

    “I doubt if any cotton was planted in the last week (from 5/14). The forecast last week called for heavy rain and growers pulled back.

     “We’re sure hoping to miss rain that’s in the forecast for Wednesday. People are pushing hard on field work and trying to dry things out. I talked to several growers who will try to get planters in the field on Wednesday. The forecast puts us at a 20% to 30% chance for two tenths of an inch. But another system is supposed to come through on Sunday, with rain continuing until maybe Tuesday. That’s the one we sure hope to miss

    “We’re dealing with some weak germ, which resulted in weak stands in places. But nearly everyone I’ve talked with has acceptable stands. So, this doesn’t look like an overwhelming issue right now.

    “People are finding skips but not bad ones. However, they also can find rotten seed. Based on what I’m hearing, these are still acceptable stands – some at 22,000 plants per acre. That’s below what we’d like to have but should still be okay, especially this late.

    “We were told up front that germ would be lower than usual, so this isn’t entirely a surprise. With all the rain, everything in the field looks waterlogged and nothing has good color except on high ends. It will get better. At least the plants are alive, and temperatures are ramping up. The objective from here out is simply to get seed in the ground.”

    Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:

    “Everything has been delayed by rain. A handful of guys have planted 200 to 250 acres, but the planters shut off ahead of that last rain and that’s been it.

    “Between Thursday afternoon (5/9) and Sunday, it rained 3 to 6 inches. It was quite an event – everything the weather people said it would be. A few acres will be replanted where the ground went under water.

    “I do expect that people will be moving into the field again between Wednesday and Friday and – based on what folks tell me – not a single tractor will stop until it’s all done.”

    Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:

    “Nothing is going on today (5/13). The rain, which started late last week and went into the weekend, dumped 3 to 6 inches in this area. A few growers, I’m told, might be able to put spray rigs on high ground tomorrow and maybe commence some planting by Thursday.

    “This has been a tumultuous set of unfortunate events. That’s the best way to describe it. We’ve gotten one thing corrected, only to have something else go wrong. Everyone is tired of waiting and we’re all like a bunch of penned-up birddogs that are ready to bust loose.

    “Of my growers, maybe 10% of their expected cotton acres have been planted. Some of that is up, some isn’t.

    “We applied burndown herbicides in January and February and those fields are getting pretty hairy now, so we’re trying to figure out a plan to clean those up before planting. In the original plan, we would have planted that cotton by now. We’ll spray some herbicides now and come back with preemerge materials when we plant.

    “On the plus side, soil temperatures are good and we don’t have to chase moisture. When we can plant, that cotton will be up in 5 days.

    “This is the first year since 2007 when I will check more cotton than soybeans, which is a sign of what’s going on with soybeans. In a 3- or 4-week period, in fact, my cotton acres doubled. People who haven’t grown cotton in 10 or 11 years realized they couldn’t make money with soybeans.

    “I’ve had to help several of these farmers line up a gin and locate someone who’ll pick the cotton for them. Marketing that cotton is yet another challenge. Most farmers like to book on an acres contract based on production history. But these guys have no recent history, so they’ll have to go with a contract based on pounds. I’ve been trying to connect them with brokers who’ll take them on.


    “Relying on custom harvesters is yet another challenge. This year, every custom harvester probably has taken on more acres than he should. I don’t mean that offensively, it’s just how things go. Some farmers flooded out in the Yazoo River area in Mississippi and may have some picker capacity that will be available on a custom basis.

    “As late as this crop will be, the likelihood of September picking diminishes a bit more every day. With October cotton, you don’t get to pick as long. Instead of a new round-module picker covering 110 acres a day in September, it will be more like 80 or 85 acres in October.

    “Gins will be running at full capacity, too. I’m advising these returning growers that their cotton may not even see a gin stand until December or even January, which would be the earliest they’d have cotton to sell. If interest on loans is mounting and they won’t have the money to cover it, they need to plan accordingly.

    “Frankly, we’re dealing with a lot of moving parts.”

    Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:

    “Some of our earliest cotton was planted in an April 19-20 window, but that’s a very few acres. Most people waited and then cranked up around the weekend of April 27-28 and planted as much as they could before the forecast started calling for substantial rainfall. That rain began last Thursday (5/9).

    “It’s amazing how fast people can go now. One grower told me he planted his 2,400 acres in 4 days. Another farmer with 5,000 acres wrapped it all up in 7 days. That said, some farmers just started last week and were only able to plant 400 to 600 acres before the rain started.

    “Rain totals varied from 1.5 to 2.5 inches, and some of that came in a hurry. To my knowledge, nobody has been in the field since last Thursday and I haven’t seen any planters running today (5/13). Some might be in the field again as early as tomorrow or Wednesday, although a chance of rain is in the forecast now for Wednesday or Thursday.

    “I know we’re pushing toward the later side for planting but I think we can get it all done, barring another round of substantial rainfall. We’re maybe 50% to 66% finished with planting in this part of the state, which is maybe about normal.

    “Years ago, farmers started planting a lot earlier. But seed, equipment and other inputs were much cheaper. If there were problem stands, it wasn’t as big a deal to replant. But with budgets like they are now, people want to get it right the first time, plus growers can now cover more ground within a tighter window. For all those reasons, a lot of farmers really don’t like to start now until May 1.

    “In this area, cotton acreage will likely be up by 10% to 15% and that will mainly come out of soybeans. We planted less wheat in the fall, so there will be fewer doublecrop soybean acres. Corn acres will be up, too.

    “We definitely are dealing with more herbicide-resistant Italian ryegrass this year, and that’s been a building trend for several years. This isn’t like contending with resistant Palmer pigweed but it’s still an issue that demands attention. It has to be cleaned up and we need to keep it from building numbers in the seed bank.

    “I’m getting more and more calls every spring about Italian ryegrass, especially in corn. More clethodim herbicide is going out, and that raises a concern because Italian ryegrass has developed resistance to it in other parts of the country when growers relied too heavily on it.

    “If you’re finding it now, educate yourself about how to deal with it going forward. Everyone needs to stay on top of this grass for sure. This problem started in our northwestern counties as the weed began moving across the Mississippi line. Since then, it’s been progressing a little farther east every year. It’s made a foothold in northwest Alabama now and through parts of the Tennessee Valley. Fall burndown treatments have done well in our tests, so keep that in mind for later this year.”

    Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri:

    “My growers may be 33% planted, although some might have only planted 5% so far (5/13). Most held off doing anything last week because heavy rain was in the forecast, with lower temperatures, too. But from this moment on, they will be planting wherever they find a dry spot.

    “Some of the earliest planted cotton looked pretty good last week, but there was still some variation, depending on planting dates. It looked like 3 or 4 days made a difference. The earliest fields caught warm weather, which helped bring them along. Germination and sprouting weren’t as good where seed were planted just a little later and then went right into cooler conditions. We may have some replanting or at least spot planting with some of that cotton.

    “If the weather remains dry, we certainly could finish planting between May 25 and May 30. Generally, no one wants to plant cotton here on or after May 25. The price of beans is low enough that growers will have to put some thought into whether to plant cotton later than normal or shift to soybeans.

    “How the weather goes will largely determine how much cotton we finally have. I may not know until I send out my bills in June how much cotton my growers will have. For that matter, I still might not know even then.”

    Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:

    “We’re almost done with cotton planting and would have already wrapped it up but then got into a rainy spell. A few acres are left and those won’t take long. The forecast looks good. Most of our cotton that’s already been planted is up to cotyledons and first true leaf.

    “A lot of corn will be in tassel in about a week. Rain has been catching us when trying to plant soybeans. We’re about 30% done and will have to do some replanting where water is standing now (5/13). With prices like they are, soybean acres are down a little and much of that ground will go into sugarcane.”

    Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi:

    “We haven’t even started planting cotton yet (as of 5/13). It’s rained that much. Questions are now being asked about whether to rehip.

    “Things vary quite a bit, of course, depending on rainfall totals, and planting may be further along 10 miles down the road. I was coming through Indianola and saw a little cotton up. Around here, I can take you to cotton at cotyledon or first leaf but very little seed, overall, has gone into the ground.

    “On a positive note, the forecast calls for 10 days of pretty good weather, so farmers should be able to plant a substantial amount before it rains again. Certain problem areas remain, though. Seep water from the Mississippi River is keeping soils wet, so people with land along the levee could be on hold for a while.”

    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.
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