This week was hot, dry and very windy across the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV). Temperatures all week were mainly in the mid to lower 90s during the day and nights were high 60s or right at 70. We did receive some rain last Friday and Saturday around the Valley, but it was only about a tenth of an inch in most areas and moisture was gone by Monday.
However, it was reported that McCook received rain Friday night of 1.5 to 5 inches in some areas.
Many growers were planting cotton this week. Acreage certainly went up and, according to the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication program, 115,831.7 acres of cotton has planted in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, as of yesterday (Thursday, March 26).
Cotton across the Valley was pretty clean again this week except for a few exceptions in couple of areas. Most cotton I checked was at cotyledon to 2 to 3 true leaves, with very few acres of 4 true leaf cotton. The oldest was 6-true leaves.
Checking in Mid Valley to Lasara and along the Military Highway, I saw a few plants with cotton aphid adults and nymphs but again very light populations as of this week.
Along Military Highway in Progreso, we did pick up on more thrips. However, those fields that had high thrips were directly across from onions or close by. So again, if you have cotton along Military Highway – and especially near onions – please check closely. More than likely, you have a thrip infestation like what I saw in the Progreso area.
Thrips will sap juices with their piercing, sucking mouthparts and the damage they cause on the underside of leaves will look silverish in color with a stippling effect. Thrips can dry out the leaves with their feeding, and emerging seedlings in cotyledon stage can look very damage when high winds are kicking up dust — and sometimes cotton ends up being a loss.
With the high winds blowing so much dust and cotton being stressed from lack of rain, I did pick up on a bit of red spider mites in the mid valley around the Monte Alto and Elsa areas. Spider mites can infest the underside of cotton leaves sucking juices drying out the leaves and make a webbing.
Also, I found one fleahopper adult in the Mid Valley in older cotton just beginning to get pin head squares. So next week we will have to be on the lookout for them, as well.
Despite these sitings the overall cotton crop was generally clean for now.