“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.