Cotton – Southwest – Defoliation Approaches In South, Central Texas – AgFax


Larry Stalcup, Field Editor

Many thanks to the PhytoGen Cotton Team for their continued support and sponsorship.



It’s hot. With recent Arizona temperatures hitting 112, Randy Norton finds stamina lacking in his experimental variety field trials. They are “folding up like a cheap suit.”

Weed control is down in the dirt with active residual herbicide programs and even hoe teams working in some fields. Wayne Keeling says the fact that growers are using multiple weed control factors is a “positive signal for reduced weeds heading into next year.”

Defoliation is approaching for central and South Texas, as well as the Upper Coast. More northern areas are closing in on deadlines to make harvestable bolls.

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Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock:

Dry conditions have taken hold in most of West Texas. Parts of the Amarillo-Panhandle keep catching a few rain showers here and there. For the most part, irrigation is in full swing where it’s available. Where it’s not, the crop is feeling it. There are decent looking dryland fields, but those will need rain very soon.”

“Peak bloom is the plant’s maximum demand for nitrogen. But growers dealing with a late crop should avoid applying fertilizer late in the season. Nitrogen and water promote vegetative growth. In a late crop scenario, N and water sometimes make crop termination more difficult.”

Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford:

“It’s about 112 degrees now (noon 8/13) and getting warmer. But with sufficient irrigation, there is optimism for a good crop. Out west around Yuma, cotton is a week from defoliation. Cotton picking should start around September 1.

“Plant heat stress tolerance is under pressure. Most commercial varieties in our trials are setting and holding the fruit with good heat tolerance. However, most experimental lines lack stamina and fold up like a cheap suit under this heat. We’ll have information on heat stress trials later this year.

“Insects have caught up with us. Significant pressure in central and eastern Arizona required spraying lygus for the first time this season with whitefly populations also needing treatments.

“Whitefly and lygus numbers have been kept in check because growers followed IPM guidelines by applying soft insecticide chemistry to help preserve predators.”

Kate Harrell, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Jackson, Wharton & Matagorda Counties:

“Cotton is nearly mature in the Upper Coast. Defoliation has started in Wharton County. Late cotton will be defoliated in about 2 weeks.

“The crop and boll set look good. A couple of fields may need treatments for stink bugs, but most are approaching harvest. Spotty weather early in the season means the area could see a wide variety of yields.”

Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hockley, Cochran & Lamb Counties:

“August 15 to August 20 is this area’s last effective bloom period. Fields need intensive irrigation management for the next 10 to 15 days to make final bolls.

“The dryland crop was decent but it hit the wall last week when we didn’t receive rain. It may be too late for some fields. Dryland will likely drop from 1- to three-quarter-bale potential to 200 to 300 pounds.

“Insects are still in play. Conventional cotton needed bollworm sprays. But don’t make the mistake of not scouting Bt fields for worms where treatment may be required.

“Aphids have exploded and beneficials may not be able to handle the numbers. Cotton at physical cutout could see aphid populations crash, but cotton with 5 or more NAWF is susceptible. Growers especially need to watch late fields that received N applications since heavy infestations may follow more plant development.

“Stink bugs are also in the insect mix due to cotton’s proximity to grain sorghum. Although heavy pressure is rare here, stink bugs are not hard to kill, but spraying them with pyrethroids could cause an aphid flare-up. Make sure you select the right insecticide.

“More insects are lingering this year due to winter and spring moisture that pushed weeds and insect populations. There was a niche for more bugs whether it was fleahoppers or chinch bugs coming early or stink bugs appearing late.”

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Jerry Stuckey, farmer-general manager, Northwest Cotton Growers Co-op, Inc., Moscow, Kansas:

“Cotton was way behind, but it’s close to catching up now.  Cutout should happen by August 18. Usually, blooms after that point won’t make a mature boll, so I’m pleased it’s cutting out now. There’s a good stand even though it’s late. Most plants have at least 3 bolls and 9 to 10 blooms. Squares were set all at once with this heat.

“The area needs rain. About an inch fell 10 days ago, the first in a while. It sprinkled here last night (8/12), but there were reports of good rains near Liberal. Sublette had 2 good showers recently.

“While a lot of cotton should mature well with a good fall, some fields appear less developed. Overall, the key is having enough moisture to get the most out of these crops.”

Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County:

“Bolls have been open a week and need about 2 more weeks before they’re ready for defoliation. Cotton yield potential looks good – from 3.25 to 3.5 bales per acre. The area average is close to 3 bales.

“A few spider mites are moving into cotton after corn harvest on the eastern side of the county. The corn yields are promising, about 165 bushels per acre. That may be a little below average, but overall, good rains have complemented irrigation to boost our crop potential.

“Peanut pods are forming although a little leaf spot is showing up.”

Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo:

“From Amarillo north, the crop that’s left looks very good. There have been scattered showers, but cotton could use more rain. It’s in full bloom with a good boll set and progressing right on track, even with the cold, wet May start.

“Late post-emergence herbicides are going out. I’m amazed at the number of hoe crews out there. Producers are using all means possible to keep fields clean.

“Irrigated yields should be average with a 3-bale potential. Producers may be disappointed after last year’s large yields, but if they reach 3 bales, that’s still not bad.

“The question for remaining dryland cotton is whether it will make a crop that pays. Subsoil moisture is carrying the crop and it’s blooming out the top, but the yield potential is not what producers want. Surprisingly, late wildcat cotton is blooming and doing better than expected.

 “Where it was too late to plant cotton, many growers came back with dryland sorghum. In an effort to plant into moisture, some fields were planted too deep, which caused emergence issues.”

“The main concern now is whether we have decent growing conditions in September to finish this crop.”

Gary Beverage, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Artesia, New Mexico/Southwest Texas:

“Cotton is coming together really well. A lot of early planted and replanted cotton struggled, but those fields are catching up and should be okay.

“Yields look promising and a lot of cotton is at cutout.

“Green stink bugs are everywhere and are hard to eliminate. There’s no aphid pressure yet. Most grasshoppers have moved from cotton to alfalfa fields, but a few are still causing problems.

“Weeds are under control, but there are light infestations of southwestern cotton rust. Preventative fungicide was applied, so it’s not a big problem.

“Hot weather is keeping most disease away. As long as there is sufficient irrigation water, cotton is responding well.”

Wayne Keeling, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Weed Specialist, Lubbock:

“It’s impressive to see so many clean fields. People have used residuals and post materials properly to keep things weed-free. That’s unlike 4 to 5 years ago when we were losing the battle against glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“Of course, dry weather in the last month to 6 weeks has slowed weed emergence. But they can still be a problem in irrigated fields if a good herbicide program is not in place. Hopefully, residual herbicides will control weeds the rest of the season.

“Fields are clean now, and they should stay clean heading into the 2020 season. It’s important to prevent late season weeds from going to seed. Good weed control now is a positive signal for this year and reduced weeds heading into next year.”

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Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan & Upton Counties:

“Cotton is hot and thirsty. The area is dreadfully dry and hasn’t had significant rain since mid-May. Plants are starting to kick off fruit. Large squares and small bolls are hitting the ground in dryland and irrigated fields. What was once a decent looking crop looks lighter every day. But yield potential is still decent if the area receives precipitation. Good moisture might help fill out what’s there and set a few more bolls.

“Pest issues are low with a few stink bugs, but nothing at economic threshold levels. A few spider mites are in the dryland cotton.

“Where root-rot is an issue, Topguard fungicide is controlling it. Resistant varieties are taking care of the verticillium wilt.”

Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill County:

“On the western side of the county, a little cotton has 20 to 30% open bolls. But for the most part, about 90% of the crop has just now stopped blooming and filling bolls.

“Potassium deficiency is the biggest issue with cotton. Potassium is pulled from the leaf to fill the boll. As soils dry out, less of it is available to the plant which can hurt boll development.

“Insects remain quiet with a few aphids, but nothing serious. There are signs of bacterial blight, but the only way to manage it is through variety selection.

“Corn harvest is underway. Yields are average to exceptional, with plenty of corn yielding 130 to 160 bushels per acre. Sugarcane aphids are starting to build in early and late planted sorghum. In some cases, growers sprayed for aphids when late cleanup herbicide applications were applied.”

Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus:

“Luckily, a lot of cotton in the western and southwestern parts of the state received rainfall early this week. Storms produced about 0.3 to 1 inch of rain, and possibly more in other areas but it wasn’t widespread. It will help the dryland.  

“Most cotton is at cutout. Dryland is close to blooming out the top. Irrigated fields are around 4 to 5 NAWF. The crop is where it needs to be, except for needing more moisture.

“Scout for stink bugs and egg lays on the underside of plant leaves. These insect feed on younger bolls.  

“As fields approach the backside of peak bloom, irrigation application needs to match crop needs in order to manage late season growth.”

AgFax Southwest 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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