Midsouth crops are generally not suffering from a lack of moisture as we head towards July. Frequent rains across much of the region have minimized irrigation costs on a wide basis.
Plant bugs are becoming more apparent and the treatment pace has picked up in older cotton. No blow-out numbers have been reported but multiple sprays have been necessary in parts of the region.
Bollworm moths are apparent, at least in localized areas. No big flight is underway yet but early July always sees a wave. See comments by Gus Lorenz.
Aphid treatments have been necessary in places. As Angus Catchot notes, certain fields in Mississippi have had to be treated for aphids and also for plant bugs or spider mites.
The biggest challenge remains all those variable stands. Consultants continue telling us about fields with a mix of blooming cotton intermingled with smaller plants that are on a different timetable.
Blooms are turning up in more places, sometimes ahead of expectations.
Bill Brooks, Mid-South Farmers Cooperative, Alamo, Tennessee:
“Overall, we’ve got really good-looking, clean crops. All three – cotton, corn and soybeans – are doing well, and I’m tickled with how things have shaped up so far. Considering the weather earlier, we have been blessed.
“Our cotton planting was spread out from April 27 through the first week of June, so we have cotton in a bunch of different stages. Normally, we look for blooms around July 4.
“Thrips and plant bugs are very light, although we’re seeing plant bug numbers picking up in some of the older cotton. We will be treating plant bugs along with making a second herbicide shot.
“In corn, we’re about to spray a fungicide. We’ve put some nitrogen on — some through pivots and we’ve flown on nitrogen on other fields. The crop has promise and we’re excited about the way the market is moving.
“Soybeans look good, too. With all the hype around corn and cotton earlier this season, early-planted soybeans got pushed to the backburner. Usually, a big share of our beans are planted in the last two weeks of April, but that didn’t happen this year. Corn took those soybean acres this season.
“The rains have come at good times. We had a one-week stretch where some of the corn showed stress but that’s been it. Rains seem to have been timely and staggered every few days. Hopefully, that will continue. There have definitely been less heat units on these crops compared to last year. Some mornings are actually cool.”
Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana:
“It’s been raining and we got another two inches last night. Most of the cotton I work is south of Shreveport, and I found my first cotton bloom Sunday (June 23). I actually thought we were a couple of weeks off from seeing that.
“Our cotton is still behind, though, like everyone else is reporting. We’ve had a few clear days and the crop took off and it now looks very good. We’ve still got late cotton that’s only at the three-leaf stage, but other fields are moving toward layby.
“Bug-wise, a mix of fleahoppers and plant bugs developed early on. I got worried because normally we get fleahoppers to start with. I was checking on Sunday (June 23) to get ahead of the rain, and the numbers were still at sub-threshold levels, so we don’t need to treat. I saw a couple of bollworm moths but nothing to worry about yet.
“Our corn has turned out okay. At the beginning of the season, I thought it would be a disaster but we kept getting timely rains and enough sunshine. It won’t be a bumper crop but it’ll be solid. A month ago, I’d have said ‘Corn isn’t working. Let’s plant some beans.’ Now, our corn has turned the corner.
“The only real issue in corn – and this is nothing new — has been feral hogs. Those hogs have overrun this part of the state, and several producers are quitting corn because of the hogs. When you bring up hogs with folks who haven’t experienced this problem, they think we’re crying wolf. But hogs are easily knocking yields by 20 to 80 bushels per acre. They mow down the field – taking one bite out of an ear and then keep moving. It actually looks more like someone ran through the field with a Bush Hog.”
Bob Griffin, Griffin Ag Consulting, Jonesboro, Arkansas:
“I’m in some beautiful cotton outside Hughes right now. It’s about knee-high and should be blooming sometime next week. Cotton ranges from the fourth to the thirteenth node. We’re putting out nitrogen on younger cotton and are wrapping up weed control, trying to deal with pigweeds.
“We’ve been spraying for plant bugs in our oldest cotton for several weeks. Usually, plant bugs don’t reach threshold until the cotton is 10-node or better. Treatment results have been good, so far.
“We haven’t had to irrigate anything yet. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse but the rains have kept that expense down. I was checking stats for our fields and we’ve averaged 41 to 42 inches of rain so far this season. By comparison, the average annual rainfall for this part of Arkansas is maybe 49 inches. We were preparing to irrigate this week if necessary but then, lo and behold, it rained another inch or more over the weekend.”
Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas:
“Most of my cotton is at the ninth or tenth node. We were seeing some plant bugs but the numbers didn’t start picking up until this week. We treated a few fields last week, and this week we’re treating a few more. It seems that when cotton gets around that tenth node, the plant bugs show up. We’ve also sprayed a few fields of younger cotton for thrips.
“I don’t think we’ve had to irrigate a single field yet. It’s rained a half-inch to an inch about every four days. The polypipe is out and we’re prepared but we haven’t had to turn on the pumps.
“Soybeans are anywhere from just planted to R-3. Insect-wise, things have been quiet and we haven’t had to treat for anything. We’re still trying to overlay pre-emerge herbicides on the beans that were planted earlier. So far, we haven’t had any trouble getting the pre-emerges activated because it seems like every time the wind blows it brings rain with it.”
Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Mississippi:
“Our cotton crop ranges from six to 14 nodes. To date, we haven’t sprayed a single field for plant bugs in the Delta. In the hills, though, we’ve sprayed many fields at least once if not twice. A lot of that can be tracked back to where someone cut grass by the highway or mowed a pasture. When alternate hosts are lost, those pests just come over into our cotton.
“We haven’t had to irrigate anything yet. Last night (June 23), everyone got a little over two inches of rain, and everything is soaking wet. That last rain was on top of another inch or more a few days earlier.
“As far as weeds go, we’re pretty clean. We knocked out pigweeds and applied a shot of Dual a while back. There’s a little bit of grass leakage but it isn’t bad. We don’t have any layby out yet but it isn’t far away. We should see a few blooms in a week or so.
“We have a lot of late-planted soybeans around here. They’re somewhere between V-2 and R-1, I’d say.”
Andy Tonos, Delta Ag Consulting, Greenville, Mississippi:
“It’s been a wild year for weather. Around Greenville last night (June 23) we got three to five inches of rain, and all that has made a mess in a lot of fields. It’s weird, though, because we also have been through stretches this season with really dry conditions.
“All of our crops have required at least some replanting and we have had to replant several fields three times. It started with the corn and that led to replanting some beans, cotton and rice.
“I had to spray cotton for thrips early on, and the crop wasn’t planted until the latter part of May. About the second week of squaring we began to run into low plant bug numbers. Cotton needed Pix, so we went ahead and sprayed it. With all the moisture, we’re trying to get a jump on the regulators.
“Weeds have been hard to deal with, and we’d be in trouble this year without dicamba. In general, though, 85% to 90% of everything is under control. I know some older farmers who are going with older materials – Treflan and such as that.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:
“Plant bug activity is definitely picking up in numerous locations. The eleventh or twelfth nodes seem to be a trigger. Where cotton is starting to bloom, plant bugs are really ramping up in most areas. People are asking about products-of-choice and the like. A big part of the cotton still isn’t blooming, so growers are using Centric or Transform or something like that.
“Now, we’re starting to kick up bollworm moths, especially in south Arkansas. From Jefferson County south, moths are in the fields, and the rains seem to have prompted them to come out of their pupal stage.
“Our soybeans are hitting R-2/R-3 so we should see some bollworm larvae developing in the latter part of this week and into next week. Start looking for eggs and small larvae in beans and cotton. This is a pretty stout flight.
“We’ve been checking corn for earworms when it’s at tasseling with silks turning black or brown. In numerous fields we checked in south Arkansas last week, corn earworms were running two or three per ear. When those cycle out of corn, the moths will head right into cotton and soybeans. It may be a perfect storm because more cotton will be blooming in a couple of weeks.
“Fall armyworm activity has already cranked up in pastures. When that happens in June, it only gets worse. Yellowstriped armyworms have built to the point that soybeans have had to be treated for them in places.”
“Our cotton crop is all over the board in terms of maturity, and it’s starting to need a plant bug clean-up in a few spots. When I say it’s all over the board, we have cotton blooming now but also have plants that were watered up just two weeks ago. Thrips haven’t been on every acre but we’ve definitely sprayed bigger cotton, and later in the season, than we ever have.
“A lot of our corn is done tasseling and is in brown silk now. The corn is like the cotton: maturity is not all uniform.
“Weed control has been okay, so far. Due to the weather, we ran into delays with herbicide applications. It rained about three-quarters of an inch today on top of the same amount yesterday (June 24). It rained last week, too, so we’re in pretty good shape with moisture.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:
“We’re seeing rather average plant bug pressure in our cotton that’s starting to square. They’re spread out a little thinner now, so we’re taking a scout-and-spray approach on plenty of acres. Right now, our focus is on weed control, applying fertilizer and other general ‘farm stuff.’ Plus, we are spraying for plant bugs in a few spots.
“Cotton comes in a huge range of maturities this season. We have cotton that will be blooming by July 4 but also have many fields that are at two or three nodes. A big portion of the crop just started squaring in the last week or two.
“In soybeans, we’re seeing stink bugs piling up in some of the earliest fields. These are mostly green stink bugs, so they should be easy to control .”
“Our cotton is a mixed bag. We’ve got smaller cotton all the way up to part of the crop that’s been blooming for a couple of weeks. There’s cotton in the same field that’s at different ages due to erratic emergence. So, in some cases we’re managing several different pests on several sizes of cotton in the same field. That’s been challenging.
“Up until this week, plant bug numbers have been low across most of the state. But this week, populations went well over threshold in places.
“We’re still dealing with aphids like we have been for the last four weeks or so. We’ve run into complication picking chemistries in a number of fields where aphid treatments are needed. Along with aphids, we are finding plant bugs, spider mites and other pests. It isn’t uncommon to have to make a co-application for aphids along with something else.
“Bollworms aren’t much of an issue in cotton, but it is early. Usually, we start picking up flights coming out of corn in the week of July 4. But this year, who knows what’s going to happen? The corn varies in growth stages all over the state and that’ll obviously affect the bollworm flight. I think we’ll know more about bollworms in about 10 days.
“In the last day or two, three consultants south of U.S. 82 reported redbanded stinkbugs in R-2.5/R-3 soybeans. Counts are running about one per 25 sweeps. Those aren’t numbers we’re concerned about now. But it is something to watch since we’re picking up those numbers in beans that aren’t really setting pods yet.”
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