Cotton – Southeast – Planting Stalls In More Areas As Soils Go Dry – AgFax

    Cotton seedling: Photo: Debra L Ferguson

    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


    Finding any snails? They’ve been mentioned several times in our calls this week and are building on cotton and other crops to varying degrees. Reports have come from south Alabama, the Florida panhandle, Georgia and North Carolina. A couple of our contacts noted that snail pressure increased even though conditions were hot and dry, which wouldn’t seem to favor them.

    Thrips are building in more areas this week. While the predictive model had projected low pressure in certain cases, changes in the actual weather were out of sync with the model’s average temperature data base. Hence, thrips unexpectedly developed at treatable levels, particularly in central and south Alabama.

    After months of rain, the weather has turned decidedly dry in a number of areas. Dryland planting has stopped in places while growers wait for rain. More heat is in the forecast, with triple digits expected in parts of the lower Southeast over the weekend.



    Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia:

    “We had a 2.5-inch rain a little over 2 weeks ago, so now (5/20) it’s getting powder dry. Our cotton is probably 60% planted but growers have had to either pull back from planting any more dryland or they’re just putting it in dry dirt and hoping for rain.

    “Cotton is showing the effects of herbicides. Some of it is from residual herbicides on peanuts last year – Cadre, Strongarm – and then we’re seeing Reflex injury on top of that. That stress is holding back growth and thrips are really working over some of that cotton. Volunteer peanuts are an issue, too, and thrips have been building on them and then moving into cotton.

    “Seed treatments generally aren’t holding thrips long enough where cotton is growing so slowly. As stressed as that cotton is, it’s hard to come in with yet another residual, so we’re starting up with Roundup and including acephate or Bidrin for thrips.

    “Our peanuts also are about 60% planted. In places, low stand counts are a problem. Some of this gets back to dry soils in dryland fields and growers staying with the idea of planting deeper to get into moisture. We’re mainly planting the O6G variety now, and they don’t like to go deep. If a 2.5-inch rain pounds them down, stand issues are in the cards.

    “In some dryland fields, stand counts are probably 30% less than what we planted. None of our peanuts have received an over-the-top herbicide yet.

    “My cotton acres will be up a little this year, with peanut acres down some. The majority of our corn should tassel this week. We’ve seen a little southern corn leaf blight in all of our fields but nothing that would be a problem. In a few fields, we’ve found light amounts of northern corn leaf blight.

    “Fungicides will start next week in corn and we’ll include something to hold down stink bugs. I’m seeing more stink bugs in corn than we typically find this time of the year. They’re mostly browns.

    “Hurricane Michael took a toll here. When it reached us, Michael was an upper category 3 hurricane. It was bad for us but not as terrible as it was for folks closer to the coast. We managed to harvest 60% of the cotton. Most averaged 500 lbs/acre but a good bit only ran 300.”

    Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina:

    “We had wet weather early and it was a struggle to plant corn. But when the weather dried out, it really dried out. From mid-April on, we could plant just about anything we grow. But it’s been dry enough long enough that we’re now in a drought, and everything planted early is being negatively affected by lack of rain.

    “Up until the rain stopped, it’s been a really smooth start, but farmers have slowed down now on further soybean planting.

    “In cotton, we’re getting into a lot of thrips. Some of the more recently planted cotton also is struggling to gain a stand. On the other hand, it’s been years since we’ve had this much progress by May 20. At least 80% of our intended cotton crop has been planted.

    “Most fields got off to a good start, with just spotty stands in places, and we’re still trying to figure out the cause. Some of our intended cotton acres may come off the total, though, depending on what the weather does.


    “Overall, though, I think my acres will be up some. I picked up one brand new cotton farmer and another grower is returning to the crop for the first time in 5 years. Each of them will have about 1,000 acres.”

    Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama:

    “We’re almost through planting cotton (as of 5/20) and part of that is 150 acres that a farmer will plant behind carinata. We probably finished planting as early as we have in a long time. We jumped in behind a rain and planted a lot. Then we got a couple of rains when they were needed but it wasn’t enough to slow us up much.

    “We’ve done just a little spraying for thrips. So far, they’re light, and we won’t spray any more right now.”

    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “As a whole, thrips are moderate and have really been letting up some in the last week or so. It’s a pretty normal situation here.

    “We have had some issues with grasshoppers. That’s not out of the ordinary but a few more people than usual seem to be calling this year about grasshoppers. A lot of cotton is still coming up, so we have plants that are vulnerable. Not a lot of acres are being treated but people do need to be aware that the insect is active in places.

    “I’ve had a couple of questions about snails in cotton, which is kind of an oddball thing. If we have any issue like this, it’s more often with slugs than snails. With either, there’s not a lot we can do. We are drying out, so the snails may go away. Slugs or snails tend to develop in isolated areas, typically in wet areas with a lot of residue.”

    Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

    “We’re still dealing with thrips and that’s the big game in town. A lot of people have called about thrips and plenty of acres have needed to be treated in central and south Alabama this week after the pressure really increased.

    “We were expecting high pressure in north Alabama all along but the predictive model indicated that populations would be light in the rest of the state. But our weather shifted away from the averages in the model’s data base, and thrips numbers jumped pretty unexpectedly – to the point that we began sustaining a lot of damage.

    “With a good deal of this cotton we’re at 1 to 2 true leaves, which is the stage at which you’d decide whether to treat.

    “On another subject, a very solid agronomist with one of the dealer groups reported that threecornered alfalfa hoppers were inflicting damage on some seedling cotton in places along the Florida line. Plants were stunted and turning red, with signs of girdling.

    “On yet another front, snails have suddenly become a bigger issue and on a wider scale. In the last week I’ve had multiple reports of snails on seedling cotton. Snails were all across the leaves and weighing down 2-leaf plants to the point that they were bending over.

    “This is happening to varying degrees all along our southern tier of counties and into the Florida panhandle and it ranges all the way from Mobile to the Georgia line. Plus, I heard one report that snails were turning up in numbers in one area in Georgia.

    “Snail pressure has been increasing here for the last 3 years, which have all been abnormally wet years, but this year is maybe the worst snail pressure we’ve seen. It’s happening in cotton, soybeans and peanuts.

     “One major problem last year was that snails left behind huge numbers of shells that were picked up by combines during peanut harvest. Nobody knows quite what to do about this. I’m told that the University of Florida will hold a conference call on Thursday morning (5/23) to discuss it.

    “This is a lot worse than I’ve seen them in this area in the past and they really just developed in the last week (from 5/21).”

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

    “I’m excited about how this season is starting. Cotton germinated in very warm soil and it’s performing quite vigorously. Even though things are getting quite dry, we have managed to catch some scattered rain when there have been very low chances of precipitation. We have another week or so to go with 90-degree days, warm nights and almost no chance of rain. However, the forecast calls for improved chances of rain in June.

    “Planting continues to progress, and many growers will finish this week. Deep planting has been necessary to keep the seed in moisture. It’s an easier decision to make if you are dropping multiple seed per hill, but even single-spaced seed planted in moisture will have a lot of pushing power. I believe there is more risk in planting shallow and moisture leaving the seed than in planting deep, as long as the deep planting gets to the moisture.


    “Thrips pressure is high and treatments are performing adequately. If only using treated seed with nothing in furrow, I would encourage an aggressive approach of spraying 8 ounces of acephate at the first sign of a true leaf. This is not a ‘scoutable situation’ and the early true-leaf spray needs to be automatic.

    “When using in-furrow liquids, enhanced control is noticeable over seed treatments alone. However, acephate sprays are still necessary most of the time. In-furrows typically add more time before a foliar application is required.”

    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:

    “Any cotton planting on dryland acres needs to come to a halt if it hasn’t already. It’s dry (as of 5/21) and the weather will be hot for the rest of the week. Spotty showers fell in places but most areas missed them.

    “Some folks are spraying thrips on cotton that was planted a little early. These are routine applications. The thrips risk window has shifted a bit earlier, based on the predictive model.”

    John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia:

    “We’ve probably completed 80% of our cotton planting (by 5/21). For me, it’s highly unusual to be that far along with cotton planting at this time of the year, and a lot of my growers are completely done. We don’t have a stand yet on everything and will need a rain to complete some stands – but at least we’re getting there.

    “Of the cotton planted, well over 50% is up. Most everyone is planting on dry dirt now. Hopefully, we’ll catch a rain soon, although the forecast isn’t favorable. My cotton acres are pretty close to last year’s, maybe down just a bit because a couple of growers decided to plant more corn. Peanut acreage will be off, too, and that ground also will shift to corn.

    “In cotton, we had to spray some thrips and a few grasshoppers.

    “Conditions are about to get hot. On Sunday (5/26) through Wednesday, the highs could range from 100 to 102. Those are actual temperatures, not the heat index estimates. We usually have hot weather like that in June, but we’re still in May. One area has enough moisture to make a stand if they plant today but those growers will probably run out of moisture there tomorrow.

    “With peanuts, 90% of the intended crop has been planted. In a few areas, we’ve run out of moisture, so growers will have to wait for a rain before they finish planting those peanuts.”

    Dennis Reginelli, Area Extension Agent and Agronomist, East-Central Mississippi:

    “We should make great progress this week in finishing cotton planting in Noxubee and Lowndes Counties. If we don’t finish, we’ll be close. The wind is drying out fields really fast, so that’s making this a bit more challenging.

    “Even though planting is running late, I think we’re okay. When I transferred to Extension from research in 1991, it was wet and a lot of cotton that year also was planted late. But we still made really good yields.

    “The heat units this week will bring cotton up fast and we should be rowing it out in 4 days. Also, I don’t have any reason to be concerned about seedling disease. Right now, we have a good environment for cotton and it should develop a nice root system.”

    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.
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