Cotton – Southeast – In Places, It’s The Season That Won’t Start – AgFax Southeast Cotton

    Cotton planting. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

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

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


    Planting progress varies widely, from finished to hardly started. Rains continue stalling field work and planting where things are running behind. In areas hit hard by 2018’s hurricane Michael, growers continue trying to put things right, plant their 2019 crops and deal with weather delays. See comments by Wes Briggs.

    Cotton is responding to warm conditions where growers have been lucky enough to plant.



    Brandon Dillard, Regional Agronomist, Geneva, Alabama:

    “Cotton planting is running way ahead of schedule. We’re at 70% to 75% planted, and one long-time farmer said this was one of the best planting seasons he’s ever seen.

    “The weather has been warm and we’ve been getting showers – enough to help but not enough to stop us for long. Once growers started planting, they could mostly roll on through. Some fields haven’t been planted yet, including acreage behind small grain. Stands mostly look good, with just isolated areas where hard rains fell, so some replanting has been necessary.

    “A front moved through last night (5/12) and most everyone received 0.8 to 2 inches of rain. Planting will kick off again tomorrow, at least in places.

    “Our cotton acres will be up, although I don’t think anyone has a good handle about how much of an increase we’ll have. Some of that acreage is coming out of peanuts. Most farmers tell me that $400 a ton for peanuts isn’t enough to encourage them to get aggressive with peanut acreage this year.

    “With peanuts, we’re 80% to 85% planted in the counties where I work. By now, we’re usually 50% to 60% planted, so the weather has obviously been great for peanut planting, too. May showers also helped corn get off to the races. Early corn looks very good, and most irrigated growers say they’ve only watered once or maybe twice. We’re just getting to the point that corn’s water requirements increase, so we should see pivots running a bit more over the next 2 weeks.”

    Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University:

    “Most places did get rain over the weekend (5/11-12) and some received more than others. In certain locations, about an inch fell, while in other spots it was a tenth of an inch. That moisture is going away fast because we already were running short last week.

    “Planting is in progress, and a lot of seed is already in the ground. We have a cool day today (5/14) but temperatures are supposed to warm up. Folks are concerned that they will run out of moisture because there isn’t much rain in the forecast.

    “We’ve had some issues with seed, which are being addressed. Some folks are replanting or getting ready to replant because of that. This wasn’t anything widespread and wasn’t an issue with every variety.

    “By the end of this week, we’ll be close to finishing cotton planting. Some stragglers will still be out there but a large, large portion of our cotton should be in the ground. I’ve seen some cotton with 2 true leaves. That would be our very oldest cotton, but it’s just a small amount of the crop. Keep in mind that hardly any seed was planted in the state before April 29.”

    Chad Savery, Anchor Ag Solutions LLC, Fairhope, Alabama:

    “Very little is going on in cotton. This is like the year that won’t get started, and hardly anything has been planted. Among my growers, 300 to 400 acres have been planted at most.

    “As things look right now (5/13), we will have more cotton and that added acreage will come out of peanuts. Peanut planting might have just started.

    “A big rain fell over the weekend but we have a good forecast coming up and everyone will be running in a few days. Things will get wild. I can promise you that.


    “When it’s rained, totals didn’t amount to much but the fronts have just kept coming through. The problem has more to do with frequency than amounts. These have mainly been systems that moved through the Midsouth and we’re just on the tail end of them. We tend to get our biggest rains when moisture comes up from the gulf.”

    Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:

    “After generally favorable rainfall, we are moving into our first brief encounter with a bit of chilly weather for a few hours on Wednesday morning (5/15). Newly germinating seedlings exposed to temperatures in the mid-40s run a risk of chilling injury within 48 hours of planting. However, will 3 hours below 50 degrees actually change the soil temperature enough to threaten a just-planted cotton seed?  It should be fine, I think.

    “With rain clearing out on Monday, it will be a few days before about half the region can get going again. Concerns about planting have been minor. This upcoming weekend (5/18-19) might be the first one in a while without any rain, and that might be a good thing.”

    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.”

    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.

    “South of U.S. 82, all of our corn is pretty much established, and it’s all about knee-high. North of the highway, it ranges from just spiking to mid-shin. Rain and cooler temperatures killed a lot of that corn a month ago. In two fields where 4 inches of rain fell, the corn never came up.”

    Steve Brown, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Auburn University, Alabama:

    “Rain fell over most of the state during the weekend (5/11-12) and slowed things down, but it was needed, particularly in southeast Alabama. Conditions are really good. Some cotton planted last Wednesday was up by Monday, and some planted last Thursday is peeking through today (5/14). It turned a little cool over the weekend but I think we’ll be okay.”

    Mark Freeman, Extension Area Agronomist, East Georgia, Statesboro:

    “The weather is just about perfect for cotton planting. It rained over the weekend pretty much across the state, and that was good for soil moisture. Planters are in the field today (5/14). The early-season cotton looks good and thrips pressure is just about normal in this part of Georgia.”


    Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

    “I walked through some thrips trials today (5/14) and quite a few treatments showed significant thrips injury. That was at Prattville, which supposedly hasn’t had high pressure. That cotton went from 2 leaves to 4 leaves in about a week. We got almost 4 inches of rain through central Alabama over the weekend (5/11-12), which put us out of the field, but folks are planting again today in places.”

    Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, Western Panhandle:

    “We’ve had great planting weather – warm conditions and well-timed rain – and we’re off to a good start. One thing to keep in mind is that cold weather was somewhat limited over the winter, so we probably have volunteer cotton in places. Those plants would give nematodes a way to carry over. That’s something to be aware of as the season progresses. The rain also helped the corn. I’m seeing more twin-row corn than in the past.”

    Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia:

    “On average, my growers aren’t 50% planted yet. A couple are at 50% but they’re the exceptions. For May 15, we’re definitely behind where we need to be. We started with really good cotton stands but after heavy rains in the last 7 to 8 days we’re seeing problems – rhizoctonia, washing and such.

    “We’re starting our herbicide sprays and fertilizer work. It’s that time in the crop season when it’s hectic anyway but everything will be more complicated this year. We’ll have a pretty big gap between planting periods, so things like spraying and fertilizer applications won’t fall into an efficient schedule where you move from field to field.

    “The rain and planting delays account for some of that, and we’ve sure had rain all spring. But we’re also still contending with damage caused last year by hurricane Michael. The storm blew over pivots across the countryside. Even though new pivots are up, farmers are still trying to remove the old ones from the fields. Where pivots were repaired, some are still leaking.

    “The pivots are just one of several things that still haven’t been fully put back in order, and this is a big mess. With current cotton and corn prices, growers know they’re planting a crop that will potentially lose money, so that makes all the hurricane and weather issues that much worse.

    “With peanuts, we’re 60% to 70% planted. Some farmers aren’t that far along but we’re in better shape with peanuts than cotton.”

    AgFax Southeast 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