Cotton – Southwest – Weather Delays | Weed Battles Begin – AgFax

Cotton planting. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

Debra Ferguson, Editor

Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton, sponsored by the Southwest team of PhytoGen cottonseed.


Heavy rains fell across fields in the Coastal Bend and Upper Coast. Parts of southwest Oklahoma are also wet with more rain forecast this week and next. Panhandle/South Plains remain dry while hopes are high for scattered showers.

South Texas growers will soon be applying PGRs to rein in their “racehorse varieties”.

Waterhemp has Victoria growers fighting back with residuals in an area where glyphosate resistance appeared early. Arizona farmers have started post-emerge Dicamba and glyphosate herbicide applications.



Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock:

“We’re planting trials at Halfway today (5/19), and many growers are trying to get seed into the ground. Parts of the South Plains welcomed scattered showers this past week. Lubbock and areas to the northeast received a few good showers, as did Castro County.

“Most areas south of Lubbock are dry. Yoakum, Gaines and Terry counties need rain. There is subsoil moisture and there are scattered chances of moisture later this week. We need for those showers to materialize.”


Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan, Kansas:

“Southwest Kansas is dry, and there’s already a lot of irrigation where cotton has been planted. That area needs rain for dryland. Elsewhere, soil hasn’t been as warm as needed for planting or getting a good stand.

“I talked to guys in south-central areas last Thursday (5/14). A few were iffy on what to plant. A few sent seed back, but the long-term cotton guys have theirs in the ground. Growers still have a couple of weeks of planting season left in the southern part of the state. The tough part is looking at the prices.

“Wheat looks decent across the state. It’s probably an average crop from what I’ve seen. More northern areas suffered freeze damage around Easter. There’s still time for later tillers to make grain.

“We’re preparing for virtual wheat variety plot tours. That makes for a lot of driving to get pictures made. Thank goodness for the technology that allows us to communicate with growers during times like this.”


Aaron Turner, All-Terrain Ag Management, Victoria, Texas:

“Victoria and Refugio counties received timely rain in recent days, while Jackson County had up to 10 inches and flooding. Most of the Upper Coast had 2 to 4 inches.

“Most cotton is from just squaring to first bloom. We had a heavy thrips season and had to spray most cotton. Fleahopper pressure has been light, but to prevent major outbreaks, many farmers are applying cheap generic insecticides in their regular trips across the field.

“Herbicide applications are holding so far, and we hope not to see weed flushes after the wet weather. To stay ahead of weeds, growers will be spraying residuals, along with the post applications of Enlist, Xtend or other technologies. Outlook, Dual and Liberty are also going out.

“Common waterhemp resistance remains a problem. Early on, Fort Bend County was ground zero for glyphosate resistance for much of Texas. Growers here have been fighting it a long time. That county was also the center of bollworm resistance to Viptera 2 Bt cotton. We have Vip 3 technologies on 80% of our cotton and corn acreage. It has worked well so far. Hopefully, the new technologies will hold.”


Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock:

“We’re still in the process of getting research trials planted. Like area farmers, we need rain. There are plenty of thrips around fields, and they are heavy in drying down wheat. Growers can expect to see thrips pressure. With low cotton prices, they need to consider thrips damage and how it will impact yields and input costs.

“I haven’t heard of any wireworms so far. But with the unusual amount we had last year, there’s a good chance they will be a problem this year. Guys need to watch closely for wireworm damage early on.”


Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus:

“We’re a little wet in the southwest, but that’s not the worst problem to have. A lot of folks are waiting for fields to dry out to finish planting. Rain is forecast later this week and into next week. The irrigated planting insurance deadline is June 10. We still have until June 20 to get the dryland crop planted.

“A few irrigated stands are up in the Panhandle. They look good. A large chunk of irrigated was planted in the last 10 days. We’ll start seeing those stands within the next week. We just need to dry out to complete planting.”


Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas:

“This part of South Texas caught about 1 inch of rain Friday night (5/15). There was a little hail and wind, but nothing spectacular. Overall, it was good for cotton. The area had been dry. The crop is later than usual and is just now at 2 to 3 true leaves. We’ll probably see pinhead-square next week.

“Stands look good, and guys will likely start applying PGRs in a week to 10 days. In our area, farmers go for maximum yields, 4 to 5 bales. The new varieties are racehorses, so they count on PGRs to prevent excessive growth and keep plants under control.

“Thrips pressure has been light. I’ve made only 1 application for thrips. Fleahoppers are starting to show up. Fortunately, it looks like a mild fleahopper year. However, spider mites have been worse because of the dry weather. They’re moving out of corn into cotton.

“Weed control remains good. Growers are keeping them cleaned up with Liberty and Roundup. They’ll come back with Dicamba, then lay-by with Dual or Outlook.

“Sweet corn harvest is going well. Other vegetables also look good.”


Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon:

“Planting has started slowly due to dry weather. Irrigated producers are planting right now. We planted irrigated cotton research plots in Collingsworth County last week and will plant one in Haskell County this week.

“Most dryland growers are still waiting, but much of the area received rain late last week. Many received 1 to 2 inches after the dry spell. It looks like more rain is coming this week, so we could see more planters racing to beat it.

“Weed control remains strong, but the rain may cause weed flushes.

“Wheat is ripening, but didn’t receive rain on time. Freeze damage was worse than thought. Golf-ball-sized hail 2 weeks ago also hurt fields. We had significant wheat damage at the Chillicothe research station.”


Alan Seitz, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wilcox, Arizona:

“Cotton is coming along nicely, with good temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s. Most of the crop is in the 3- to 5-leaf stage. Due to good growing conditions, the region has seen very little replant.

“We’re making thrips sprays in a few places today (5/18). Post-emerge Dicamba and glyphosate herbicide applications are also going out. There are issues with bindweed and morning glory. We’re pleased with how the crop is performing so far.”


Ben McKnight, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, College Station:

“There has been much-needed rain in most of the Blacklands and down into the Upper Coast and Coastal Bend. Our research farm received about 1.25 inches west of College Station. There was locally heavier rain further south. The Coastal Bend was in desperate need of rain. That area had over 1.5 inches last week and a decent amount more the week before. They could see above-average yields.

“The Coastal Bend is about a week away from flowering. In the Brazos Bottom, much cotton is at 4 to 5 leaf, or considerably ahead of that. In the southern and central Blacklands, there’s 3- to 4-leaf cotton.


“Thrips have made it to the research farm. They’re not widespread, but we’re scouting them to see if they’re at threshold.

“We could see a decent weed flush after the rain. Residual herbicides applied at pre-emerge will likely start to breakdown after the warm weather and rain. A lot of post-emerge herbicide will go out on grasses and pigweed. Many 1-leaf grasses are poking through the soil.

“I’m a big fan of residuals. Growers don’t like the costs, but residuals are important for a successful post-emergence program. Guys should rotate their herbicide technologies when they can to protect against resistance.”

Cody Noggler, Crop Quest Consulting, Northwestern Texas Panhandle:

“A few places from Dumas north received a little rain – but not enough. We’re back into hot and windy weather, with temperatures in the 90s. If you get a half-inch rain, it’s gone before it does any good.

“We need 1.5 inches to get dryland started. The irrigated is all coming up, and there are pretty good stands. There are no big weed problems.

“Corn is up and ranges from just emerging to 3 to 4 leaves. It was planted 2 to 3 weeks earlier than last year, which was too wet early on. Wheat is seeing light stripe rust, but nothing to worry about.”


Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County/ Portales:

“As usual, we are parched. A few guys dry-planted cotton hoping for a rain. Outside of that, unless a crop is under irrigation, there’s not much happening.

“When we had the freeze in April, it seemed to stop everything in its tracks. What was promising wheat suffered freeze damage and went to hay. With low commodity prices, people are trying to plant what will lose less money. Cotton had been their choice, but some are looking at sorghum. However, we had excessive sugarcane aphid damage a few years ago that left a bad taste.

“The area has good soil moisture, but it’s too dry on top. Dryland corn has worked for a few growers, but they’re rethinking that because of dry conditions.” 


Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo:

“Several weather events impacted cotton in the central and northeastern Panhandle in the past 2 weeks. A few days ago there was hail damage to a few fields southwest of Amarillo. High winds blew out early-planted fields two weeks ago in the northeast region.

“We had several agronomy trials in the area that had good stands after 7 to 10 days. Unfortunately, those seedlings took a beating. We typically have residue from a wheat cover crop or from a previous year’s grain crop to slow down the wind speed. But these winds were 60 mph or higher, too much for the seedlings to handle. A few farmers had to replant. Others are coming back with sorghum.

“Still, good rainfall has helped early-planted cotton. The young crop has moved along quickly after a few growers feared they planted too early. Producers wanted to plant cotton ahead of corn due to warm surface temperatures and soil temps already at 60 degrees. Thankfully, the long-term May forecast for warm weather was accurate.”


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AgFax Southwest Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor, Editorial Director. It covers cotton production in Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
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