Cotton – Southeast – Hoping For Better Weather In Early May – AgFax

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

    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.


    Planting continues to stall in places where you might expect progress in the last 10 days of April. Too much rain, compounded by cool weather, has held planters at bay on a wide basis.

    Seed has gone into the ground in parts of the lower Southeast, but no one will remember 2020 for its early start.

    Even with cool conditions now, winter weather ran on the mild side across parts of the region. That may raise concerns that higher numbers of overwintering insects will be in the system this year. Where cotton has been planted, cool weather will likely slow growth and leave seedlings more vulnerable to thrips.

    The big breakout with planting could start next week, several of our contacts noted. Forecasts look better – meaning drier and warmer.



    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “Where the fields aren’t too wet, cotton planting is starting – mostly south of Tifton. North of Tifton, farmers received more rain. About 5% of our acres are planted, and some stands are emerging.

    “If the weather stays cool, we need to be particularly aggressive on thrips control. A cotton seedling growing slowly is more susceptible to thrips injury, and thrips feed on those unfurled leaves.

    “If it’s taking leaves five days to unfurl because of slow growth, those thrips have more time to cause injury. As noted last week, we can better protect our young seedlings by closely watching the Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton.”


    Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM Specialist, University of Florida

    “On Easter night, strong thunderstorms moved through our area and dropped temperatures, and the mornings and evenings have been cool. With some warm afternoons this week, most farmers are chomping at the bit to plant. Maybe 5% of our cotton acres are planted, and the rest are ready for seed.

    “For those who are planting, the idea is to get out there while we are receiving rain since most of the planting right now is in dryland fields. Nobody knows how long we will have the moisture we will need to bring up cotton. Later this week, the problem may be too much moisture if heavy rains develop again, and that will slow us down.


    “With cool soil temperatures, a lot of the growers here are using an in-furrow treatment. Insect protection needs to start early. Since we never really had enough cold weather to kill them back, I’m expecting heavy insect pressure. I already see fall armyworms in my yard.”


    Steve Brown, Cotton Specialist, Auburn University

    “Farmers planted a small percentage of cotton in the southern tier of Alabama, and they’re probably planting more this week. The northern part is wet, wet, wet. About 8 inches of rain fell across the central part last weekend, so we’re wet, too.

    “In general, the temperature is the limiting factor as you go north in Alabama, while moisture is the limiting factor as you go south. People are sitting on go, and we’re ready to roll. We don’t like to wait, but with the low temperatures we’ve had, it’s a good thing that most of the seed is still in the bag.

    “Once fields are dry enough to run equipment, cotton planting will start in earnest – probably next week. Most people in the south who have moisture are going to run all out. If I were them, I would be, too.”

    Eddie McGriff, Regional Extension Agent, Auburn University

    “We are behind. Rain accumulation has run 15 to 18 inches above normal for this time of the year, and people can’t get in the fields to plant. On a very small scale, I have 22 trials to plant but have only been able to plant one of them. What I need to do isn’t as important as what our farmers have at stake, but it’s an example of how far behind everyone is in general.

    “Soil temperatures are good for corn and soybeans. If it stays dry, I suspect we will start planting cotton next week. We need to get into the field, and we have a lot of corn and soybeans to plant first. Farmers also are worried that the rain will turn off at some point and we won’t have moisture this summer when we need it.

    “On a related issue, we need to look at more subsoiling in our area to eliminate these shallow hardpans. We are using much heavier equipment, and we’ve been in conservation tillage for so long that we’ve created these hardpan layers. We also have been through years when growers were forced to harvest when it was wet, and that has added to the hardpan situation.”


    Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:

    “As things look, we need to stick with simply talking about planting cotton but not actually trying to do any cotton planting right now. We won’t have any suitable planting weather for another week. Planting conditions remain poor to awful through April 28, with negative heat units and, hopefully, the last morning in the 30s.


    “After this week, it looks like nighttime temperatures will begin to mostly hold above 50 degrees, which is about the critical temperature for a newly planted cotton seed. Peanuts can tolerate temperatures about 2 degrees cooler than cotton can, so if you feel like you need to make a big push around May 1, peanuts are the better planting choice.

    “Weather conditions have been somewhat reversed. March was much more like a normal April, but the last 10 or so days here in April were more like March.

    “Good cotton planting conditions are in the forecast for around May 8, with excellent planting conditions around May 10. That said, all of this can change with tomorrow’s weather forecast.”


    Thrips Infestation Predictor Tool for Cotton

    Georgia: Critical Pest Control Training Available Online   4-20

    Alabama Row Crops: Break-Even Prices   4-20

    Georgia: Row Crop Comparison Tool Updated for April   4-21

    Cotton: Massive Genetic Mapping Project Opens New Doors For Plant Breeders   4-21

    Tennessee Cotton: Using the Thrips Infestation Predictor   4-22

    Midsouth Cotton: Small Planting Opportunities Amid The Rain – AgFax   4-22

    Cotton – Southwest: Insects Coming on Strong; Variety Concerns   4-22

    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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