Cotton – Southeast – Heat Pushes Crop Ahead…Sort Of – AgFax

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Pam Caraway, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Stink bugs aren’t going away, and growers continue battling the pests in a number of areas.

    Whiteflies remain active in parts of Georgia. With a higher-than-normal percentage of late cotton, those populations will likely influence late-season management decisions more so than usual.

    Cotton is heading toward an early conclusion in various areas, pushed along by drought and/or hot weather. More fields have cut out and a few bolls have opened in southwest Georgia. All of that applies to fields planted more or less on time, but plenty of relatively young cotton will linger into the fall.

    In peanuts, tomato spotted wilt virus has gained momentum in places.

    Corn harvest has cranked up in parts of the Southeast. Yields vary, mostly depending on rainfall totals and frequency. Corn’s yield story is the first verse in the harvest song. Subsequent crops likely will sing a similar song.



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

    “Whiteflies and plant bugs are building. Stink bugs are still our number one pest. Our cotton ranges from 40 days old and not blooming yet to fields where we’re finding open bolls. Overall, we’re working with more young cotton than we’ve ever had, and that’s due to planting delays caused by Hurricane Michael.

    “Target spot is not widespread, and we’re not treating across the board right now – especially with 58-cent cotton. In the young cotton, however, we may end up spraying a significant portion for target spot and whiteflies.

    “Corn earworm escapes are hitting 12% at the most. We are seeing escapes in all of the two-gene technology and are spraying as needed.

    “In peanuts, loopers and corn earworms are increasing and we’re finding a fair amount of white mold. Even growers who followed intense fungicide programs are seeing patches of white mold and leaf spot. Tomato spotted wilt virus is as heavy as I’ve seen it since we stopped planting Georgia Greens.

    “Our oldest soybeans are starting to turn, and our first desiccation applications may kick off in two weeks. As with cotton, stink bugs are the most significant insect problem, and that mix includes redbanded stink bugs.

    “With hurricane-damaged pivots and high heat at critical development times, corn yields will vary widely. On average, corn will run 220 to 230 bu/acre. In places, corn will top 300, but a lot of the crop will be below average.”


    John Burleson, Consultant, Swan Quarter, North Carolina:

    “Our cotton is a week or two early, and we will be at cutout next week across all the acres that I work. Based on the fruit load, this crop carries a lot of potential. If we have a favorable fall to finish it out, this could be a special crop.

    “Insect pressure is low and isn’t likely to build. Worm pressure remains low. Some growers oversprayed two-gene cotton to protect their crop. When it looks this pretty, you need to protect it.

    “In soybeans, corn earworm pressure heated up this week, but only in certain fields. Soybeans planted in April likely won’t require treatments because they’re moving out of the danger zone. Later-planted beans and double-crop beans are seeing more pressure from worms and stink bugs. When growers need to treat, they’re using a material to take care of the whole bug complex.

    “We are harvesting corn, seeing 170 to 180 bu/acre in fields that received favorable rains. Other parts of the county remained extremely dry, and those yields will run much lower.”


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

    “Stink bugs still are what we need to watch. Follow our dynamic threshold and protect this cotton. Where it’s hot and dry, we occasionally see spider mites. We are finding more bollworm moths this week than we have all season, so keep scouting. We probably will pick this crop early, but we still must work our way through plenty of weather between now and harvest.

    “In soybeans, the insect spectrum includes stink bugs, kudzu bugs and grasshoppers, but no fields have sustained significant defoliation. Soybean loopers are turning up, so we could see more injury in the next week or two. As with cotton, we have more time to make this crop – if it rains.”


    Brandon Dillard, Regional Extension Agronomist, Geneva, Alabama:

    “Spotty rains over the weekend helped our crops. Where the rain fell, we’re putting out a plant growth regulator. We also are treating for stink bugs, and spider mites are causing problems in drought-stressed areas.


    “Some of our oldest cotton is starting to crack open in the bottom, and certain fields will be ready to defoliate in about three weeks. We need to scout all of our cotton. With so much variability, we are in one of those field-by-field years, and that will continue into defoliation. Fields are not necessarily going to mature in the order of planting.

    “In peanuts, we see low levels of worms. Growers who are concerned about them are treating, but we haven’t hit threshold yet. Disease pressure also is light. The weather has been conducive for a white mold explosion, but that hasn’t materialized. I don’t know whether better genetics are holding down white mold and leaf spot or something else is involved.

    “In the 90-day-old peanuts, color and stands look good, and yield potential appears to be promising. Although we have a long way to go with peanuts planted in early June, that part of the crop looks fine, too.

    “Corn harvest is starting. We are looking at 180 to 220 bu/acre from irrigated fields, but those account for only 20% to 30% of our acreage. Dryland yields will likely run 60 bu/acre or less. Most areas missed rain for 20 days or more in May and June, so that will limit yields.

    “The vast majority of our soybean acres also are dryland, so those yields will vary, too, depending on rainfall patterns. Stink bug pressure developed here and there. Weeds are hard to manage because plants in most fields still aren’t touching in the middles. The weed fight probably will be a factor until harvest.”


    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:

    “Bollworms are scattered around, but we certainly did not see a huge, distinct flight that laid eggs in every field. Mostly, the traits seem to be working as they should. Preventive treatments for bollworms went out on a significant number of acres where growers felt they were at risk. They can expect about a 2.5-week period of residual – but when it’s gone, it’s gone. Timing matters. Depending on when applications go out, a grower might get by with a single application or will need to spray a second time.

    “This season likely will wrap up early. We went through a drought in May, then a fair amount of heat followed in June and July. All that moved along the cotton.

    “Growers are now asking whether they should stop managing for insects. To make that decision, consider whether to push for a top crop. If making a top crop is part of the equation, protect those new bolls.

    “In soybean, go with a selective insecticide for caterpillars if corn earworm is at threshold. With a broad-spectrum insecticide, you risk flaring soybean loopers. Disrupting the system now can cost you later when you’re forced to spray again. Remember: the goal isn’t pest-free crops. The goal is to clear a profit and avoid creating late-season problems.”


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

    “With bollworms, populations have been random and under threshold during the last couple of weeks. Oddly, we also discovered a few fall armyworms in cotton after finding leaves broken off at the petiole and even some terminal damage. Stink bug pressure, which we expected to be excessive, is normal. As is usual about this time of the season, leaffooted bugs are appearing in the mix.

    “When it comes to disease, what a difference a year makes. Rather than excessive precipitation, rain totals have mostly ranged from normal to deficient, and we see very little target spot. Last year, we battled target spot all the way up the stalk and sprayed many fields twice and even treated a few locations a third time. This year, we sprayed high-risk fields – about half of the acreage – at the first week of bloom, and we might treat a small percentage of that cotton a second time.

    “We are watching closely for target spot, and we also are on the lookout for the ‘alphabet virus,’ as I call dwarf leaf curl virus. We confirmed one infection through lab testing but haven’t detected any spread of the virus in that field where we removed that plant.

    “In peanuts, insects and diseases are light.”


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

    “I’m worried about our cotton yields. A lot of fields still don’t have canopy closure, and plants are either flowering out the top or have set bolls. With the drought, the plants just sat there for about three weeks during a key part of the season. Cotton yields likely won’t hit what seemed possible earlier.

    “We are scouting for leaf curl dwarf virus. We established sentinel plots here in Santa Rosa County, both in research plots and on farmers’ fields. Stay tuned for updates. However, we aren’t seeing much target spot this year, mostly because we don’t have canopy closure in many of our fields. That is a silver lining.

    “Similar to cotton, a lot of our peanuts haven’t lapped the middles – and they’re twin-row plantings. We will likely see bimodal crop maturity in many fields, which is a concern in terms of yields. That means pods will mature in two distinct, spread-apart groups without much crop in between. That will complicate harvest timing. My advice: assess the maturity distribution and try to harvest the earlier crop if possible. A crop you can bring in is better than one you might or might not be able to harvest later.”


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

    “About two-thirds of our cotton acreage is earlier planted and looks pretty good, but we certainly need August rains to maximize that potential.

    “Everybody is looking hard for worm escapes, but mostly not finding much. We haven’t experienced the slippage in control that other areas are reporting. That said, we need to stay on our toes. Outside of stink bugs continuing to build in areas, cotton is pretty quiet.”


    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:

    “Plant bug numbers are high in spots, but early-planted fields are close to reaching the point that they’re out of danger. This season continues to be a high stink bug year. In Virginia, our plant bug sprays have knocked back stink bugs in many cotton fields.


    “We don’t see a lot of stink bug or corn earworm issues in soybean – yet. Don’t assume they won’t develop, so scout carefully for both.

    “A reminder: rowers, ag business workers and consultants are invited to join us at the Tidewater Ag Research and Education Center for a cotton field day next Friday, August 16.”


    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:

    “Focus on stink bugs right now. I firmly believe that stink bugs are more damaging than bollworms. Overall, we haven’t seen enough bollworm escapes to scare anybody, but stink bugs take out bolls. A lost boll is lost yield, and we don’t have time now to replace bolls.

    “Plants are busy making cotton where they have water and low insect pressure. Things vary. A field may have no problems at all, yet cotton down the road may hold damaging levels of stink bugs and bollworm eggs on blooms. In pockets, spider mite problems persist. If a scout ever had value, it’s this year because every field is different.

    “Overall, cotton is loading up with fruit, and many fields will make good yields. But other parts of the crop were planted later and are only in the second week of bloom. That cotton has a long way to go, which scares me.”


    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “We’re closely watching whiteflies and have been treating them in relatively localized areas. When it comes to making applications, timeliness is the imperative with whiteflies, and we will likely need to spray in our historical whitely areas. If you get behind with whitefly, it’s almost impossible to catch up.

    “That said, stink bugs still are the primary pest we’re treating. The pressure seems to be down. Scout every field and don’t spray unless you have a problem. Keep those beneficials in the field because they will help us avoid other problems, especially where fields are under pressure from whiteflies.”

    Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

    “Rain began falling last Thursday and continued into the weekend, so most of the cotton is in good shape. The crop has been blooming for about 6 weeks and we’re past peak bloom. Cotton has an impressive boll load and appears on time to bloom out the top in mid-August. If temperatures are steady and it doesn’t turn extremely dry, defoliation should begin around September 10.

    “The crop has been extremely clean. This is the lightest plant bug season in the Tennessee Valley in a few years. We’re in the northeastern end of the valley, and a lot of our cotton grows in coves, so it’s harder for plant bugs and stink bugs to migrate into the fields. I believe the ecology of the area – clovers, pastures and other plants we grow here – influences what goes on with insect dynamics.

    “The early-planted corn has reached black layer, and harvest will start in 2 to 3 weeks. August rains helped the crop. Some soybeans are touching in the pods. Pest activity in soybeans remains limited. The crop will need several more rains to determine yields.”

    “The hotter days with lower humidity mean that irrigation efficiency is going to be lower than normal, and this should be considered when irrigation is applied and the next event is scheduled.”
    “Whether or not cotton is going to need respraying is sort of like a three-legged stool.”
    “Often (this disease is) associated with drought-stressed plants, which seems counter-intuitive to our experiences with other leaf spots that are more severe with wet conditions.”
    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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