Cotton – Southeast – For Better Planting Progress, Just Add Heat – AgFax

    Photo: ©Debra L Ferguson

    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.


    Warm temperatures this week shifted cotton planting into high gear. Farmers are planting – and in some cases they already are replanting.

    Pay close attention to seed quality in both cotton and peanuts. Problematic peanut seed quality is forcing more replanting than some of our contacts normally expect.

    Thrips continue to raise concerns. Cold weather stalled plant development on a wide front, leaving seedlings vulnerable to thrips populations.

    Grasshoppers seem to be a more pronounced problem this year in the lower Southeast. False chinch bugs also are hitting stands in places.



    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:

    “Two issues have developed in cotton – grasshoppers and thrips. Grasshoppers have been with us every year since we went to reduced tillage, but this is the worst year I can remember. Around Jay, Florida, 100 to 150 acres of cotton will have to be replanted because of grasshopper damage.

    “They’re chewing the stem at the crook stage just as the little plant emerges. They love the stem, not necessarily the foliage. Look closely for them. Are grasshoppers jumping up all over the field or flying around it when you walk the field? If so, you’re at a high risk for some degree of stand loss.

    “They’re not going away any time soon. Grasshoppers have a long life cycle. To control grasshoppers, go with .75 lb/A of acephate.

    “We still risk heavy thrips injury, and cotton planted in mid-April is suffering some damage. Seed treatments are holding, but by next week we’ll see fields planted in April that will need a spray. In north Alabama, I would go ahead and make an automatic treatment at the first true leaf stage. In south Alabama, we’ll also need to spray some.

    “Fewer thrips can do more damage with these cool nights when cotton isn’t growing. Stay on top of this and spray at the first sign of damage. Check that first leaf that comes out. It’s smaller than a dime, and it will either be smooth or crinkled. If it’s crinkled, thrips are hitting it and that cotton will need help.

    “Looking at the forecast for the next 10 days, we are about to move into much warmer temperatures. Once that cotton is actively growing, we’ll be in a better position with thrips.”


    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “We are 30% to 35% planted now. Unusually cool temperatures developed, and some people slowed down on planting a little. Others pushed through it.

    “We are making progress. Where the cotton is up, these cool temperatures delayed growth and thrips are working it over. Scout closely.

    “When you’re checking for thrips damage, remember that we went through a really windy spell last week, which resulted in a lot of sand blasting. Don’t confuse that with thrips injury.

    “Conditions will warm up later this week, so cotton will start growing quicker. But I have a feeling that some of these furled leaves will be pretty banged up when they unfurl.

    “Grasshoppers are around, and about 99% percent of the pressure is in strip tillage fields. Their eggs overwinter in the soil, so when we don’t till, more eggs survive.

    “Also, watch for false chinch bugs in cotton. False chinch bugs are a dry-weather pest and a sucking bug that only causes economic damage in cotton when they’re at high numbers. Depending on the situation, we can see that kind of pressure.

    “Cutleaf Evening Primrose (CEP) is a wild host for false chinch bugs. Scout closely for this insect if CEP is in a field that was burned down or you find the weed on the borders of a strip-till field. This sets you up for a higher risk for false chinch bug pressure.”


    Brad Smith, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Selma, Alabama:

    “We went from too wet and cold to too dry, and the wind has really dried out everything. In places, growers are waiting for a rain to plant. With these conditions, the cotton that was already planted is just sitting there. Hopefully, the sunny days and higher temperatures will spur growth.


    “Our corn is beginning to need a rain. If it doesn’t rain by the middle of next week, we will start seeing stressed, twisted-up corn. The forecast only carries a 20% chance of rain like we’d expect in the summer.

    “We are predominately seeing grasshoppers and a few thrips in cotton that has emerged. This warmer weather may help us push through the thrips.

    “But high numbers of grasshoppers are more of a concern. We started seeing grasshoppers 10 to 15 years ago and now we know to look for them. The problem this year is that nobody wants to spend any money, but this is all part of it. The only way to come out of a low-price market is to grow more. That’s not what the market needs, but it’s what we need on the farm.

    “A lot of our preemerge herbicide applications may be in danger of not working because of a lack of rainfall. If it stays dry, then we are in a post-emerge application situation – and much will depend on what technology you have and what options that gives you.”


    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:

    “We hope we have seen the last of the 40-degree temperatures, and it’s supposed to steadily warm up this week. Hopefully, we can get down to growing some corn, soybeans, peanuts and cotton.

    “Thrips numbers aren’t as high as they were last year, but I am seeing thrips injury in my plots. More alarming, a large number of false chinch bugs appeared on a trial with unprotected cotton before I made the first thrips spray.

    “We made a late burndown in this test area eight days before planting cotton, and that caused the problem where we planted untreated seed. Nearly everything I am using in that foliar thrips trial also looks like it is helping control false chinch bugs. Some of the premium in-furrow treatments for thrips look to be doing a fine job on them, as well. Seed treatments also are holding well for thrips and false chinch bugs.

    “But anything that’s unprotected is taking it on the chin in my area. Hopefully, the only place you’ll find unprotected cotton is in my trials.

    “Conditions are right for grasshoppers. We have dry areas, and that’s where they prosper. Nearly everything in conservation tillage, so grasshopper egg pods overwinter well in the absence of disking. So, they’re not just coming out of the ditch banks, they’re emerging in the field, itself.”


    Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University:

    “Planting conditions turned the corner on Wednesday. Although DD-60s were borderline, it was close enough to justify planting. We have moisture in most places and warm temperatures are in the forecast.

    “From here on out, it’s ‘game on’ unless rain hangs us up. The first rain in the forecast is Tuesday (5/19). With 80-plus-degree temperatures in the forecast, we will need a light rain by then.

    “At the start of the week, we were about 10% planted, but that’s going to be a different story by Friday, and it will be a mad rush for the next 12 days – that’s when our insurance cuts us off.

    “Some folks planted cotton over the Mother’s Day weekend when we had those cooler night temperatures. Lows were into the 40s and in some cases down in the 30s. We’re hoping for the best, but a lot of that cotton may be replanted.

    “For any planting or replanting, check your seed quality. North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) has a pilot program this year with a goal of testing every seed lot number that comes into the state.

    “For the large majority, seed quality is good. Up until now, cool germ has been important. Going forward, cool germ is less important but we do need to focus on warm germ. You can check your germ on the NCSU cotton website. The seed quality database is listed under Calculators and Decisions Aids.”


    Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

    “We have cotton emerging and it’s surprising that the stands look as good as they do. But it’s still too early to tell if we’re going to keep a given stand or if we’ll lose it. In about 10 days if we lose it, we will plant something besides cotton. In the meantime, we’ll keep planting cotton at 51 cents and hope that the price goes up.

    “Growers are planting corn and soybeans now (5/11), but hopefully they aren’t planting too much cotton today because we need to wait a couple more days on it. If it’s a situation where you have to plant cotton now, fine, go ahead.

    “However, if you can wait two days, the DD-60 forecast shows a better potential outcome. Seedlings will likely be more robust, they will overcome thrips and they will struggle less overall. Be flexible and regularly check the forecast.

    “The cutoff for us to plant cotton is the end of this month. Historically, a lot of our good cotton is planted in the middle of May each year, and we’re still on track for that. Several of my growers can plant 250 to 300 acres each day, so they can quickly cover plenty of ground once we begin moving.


    “With this slow start, we’ve discussed putting out an extra application of Pix on the cotton that was planted in April and on any cotton planted soon. It will be a low dose, but we want to promote an early growth habit that produces fruit.

    “People are just moving into soybean planting. All those beans have been planted on high ground and in fields where farmers are rotating away from corn and cotton this season. We are still planting corn and a few low fields haven’t dried out yet.”


    Chad Savery, Anchor Ag Solutions LLC, Fairhope, Alabama:

    “It’s dry in south Alabama. Cotton acres are down but corn, peanut and soybean acres are up. We are at least halfway on planting peanuts. Progress varies with cotton planting. One customer has planted 100% of his cotton while others haven’t put a seed in the ground. Moisture is the primary issue driving whether or not you’ve started planting cotton yet.

    “Our minimum-till/reduced-till fields are about 40% of our acres, and those tend to be where grasshopper pressure can build. We are closely monitoring for grasshoppers but have only needed to spray a couple of fields so far.”


    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:

    “We are planting and replanting. Corn and full-season soybeans were planted, and then a hard frost hit in several regions. We lost some soybeans. Most of the corn survived, but it was dinged up.

    “We are at high risk for thrips injury with any cotton planted from this week on. If anybody plants without an in-furrow application, they need to anticipate making a foliar spray at early first leaf.

    “We once thought the highest thrips risk in Virginia was in the last week in April. Since we started using the Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton, we see that’s not always the case. That North Carolina State model has been accurate for us and predicts risk increasing from now until June.

    “In corn and soybeans, we are seeing high numbers of slugs across the state, with at-risk fields in the Shenandoah Valley area. Slugs are more damaging when it’s wet and cool or anytime plants are slow to grow. You can’t count on being able to spread bait when it’s wet and nasty.

    “We recommend avoiding insecticide sprays pre-emergence or at planting. We used to make this application for cutworm, but it’s been many years since we’ve had a bad cutworm problem. When we skip that spray, we preserve beneficial insects that prey on slugs.”


    Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia:

    “We are planting and replanting. We are not quite 50% planted in peanuts or cotton. The cotton has low vigor and low germ with these cool nights, but we are gaining good stands in the fields that were planted in the last 10 days or so.

    “Where cotton was planted three to four weeks ago, we had to replant several fields.  We are seeing varietal differences in regard to germination and dormancy.

    “Peanut farmers are struggling to obtain stands, and that’s our biggest concern going forward. In the 35 years or so that I’ve been consulting, I have only had to replant peanuts a few times.

    “The concern with peanut seed doesn’t have anything to do with chemical applications or in-furrow treatments. It doesn’t have anything to do with planting conditions. In most cases, we’ve had adequate moisture. We are replanting fields where growers did everything right.

    “The problem is with seed quality, and we see a difference between suppliers, a difference that we noted last year as well.

    “Some growers are increasing their seeding rate to compensate. It’s a shot in the dark. The problem is that if we get a stand that’s overplanted, that can lead to problems with yield and limb crop set.  Replanting peanuts outside our prime window can be devastating to yield and very costly to growers.

    “The peanut situation is scary. We normally don’t see issues with seed this early.

    “On the insect front, we are finding high numbers of insect populations across crops – thrips, fall armyworms, corn earworm and lygus. All indications point to this being a year with heavy insect pressure. In our conventional tillage fields, these high winds caused sand injury, which may lead to increased seeding disease.”

    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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