“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.