David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Professor and Statewide IPM Coordinator:
“Cotton is squaring in parts of South Texas, but most of ours is just coming up or ready to be planted around College Station. We’ve seen thrips and need to watch for potential damage. There are no issues with seed treatments, but they will wear off after the first true leaf.
“Cotton aphids are common in the early planted crop further south. There are also quite a few fleahoppers. Even though it’s too early to start worrying, our wet spring has created a perfect environment for them. Excessive weeds in ditches are good hosts for fleahoppers.
“A few fields have bollworm eggs. We’re not that concerned this early in the season, but there’s no reason to believe we won’t have large bollworm populations later on. We saw large numbers in late June and early July last year. After that, most other issues were minor.
“Corn looks good, but we’re picking up a lot of rootworm and wireworm infestations. While seed treatments tend to hold well for wireworms, rootworms are a whole different beast. In our tests, we’ve seen activity where fields don’t have the right Bt technology or seed treatment for rootworms. There were issues with them coming through Bt technology last year. We will collect resistance information in our research this year.”
Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus:
“We’re on a warm track after being cold, but still looking at the end of the month before Oklahoma’s initial cotton planting begins. We’re not sure if the state will reach the 680,000 cotton acres the USDA projected. I don’t think cotton is crazy attractive to anyone right now, but it still may be the best crop alternative out there.
“We have good looking wheat, so acres planted as a cover crop for cotton may be carried out to harvest. But the freezes we had last week could impact those decisions. Weed control is often an issue – when to terminate wheat or other crops to provide residue for cotton. Those growers may not use a yellow herbicide as a burndown. We hope to determine which preplant herbicides work best in these situations, and we encourage using residual herbicides every step of the way in weed control. Some growers are switching from straight no-till to strip-till to improve weed control and other factors.
“Cotton variety selection is still a big question. New varieties look promising, but seed quality and seed sizes are a concern. It’s tough for us to give a straight answer on selection because there’s variability in seed performance. In many cases, variety selection is coming back around to basic traits of vigor and germination.”