“The Tennessee Valley is reporting cutworms. Most of the time, we get by with spraying behind the planter’s press wheel. If the cutworms are above threshold, a grower can spray the entire field. Since they only come out at night, my suggestion is to spray late in the afternoon or evening.
“Farmers planted plenty of cotton last week, so we are in a good position to finish after this round of thunderstorms. It is not too late to plant cotton anywhere in Alabama, and the new varieties grow so much faster than the old ones.”
Steve Brown, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Auburn University, Alabama
“We’re nearly planted and are getting thrips under control. No significant insect issues are turning up. On Monday, we did see grasshoppers feeding on some young cotton plants that weren’t even at first true leaf yet.
“We saw wide differences in how quickly cotton emerged. Depending on the situation, it ranged from as long as 3 weeks to as fast as 5 or 6 days. We still aren’t where we were last year in terms of high temperatures. That said, the temperature is much more favorable for planting this week than it was three weeks ago. It’s been a rough start.
“We’re in a better pattern now with scattered showers. It’s raining in the Tennessee Valley about every third day. Some places are too wet, but we won’t turn away any rain at this point.
“I am comfortable planting at least another 7 to 10 days in central Alabama, and late plantings in south Alabama can be your best cotton. We can make a crop rather quickly. Studies with Cotton Inc. last year in Brewton, Belle Mina and Tallassee showed we could set a maximum-yield crop in about four weeks. You just need good weather.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia
“Rain last week brought up a lot of cotton and helped get the planters going. We’re still running, but rain is in the forecast this week, which makes us a little nervous. Cotton and peanuts are about 80% planted, and several people have finished planting peanuts. We’ll plant everything by June 1, which is the first insurance coverage planting date. We always do.
“Peanut germination is below average. You can’t turn poor seed into a good yield with a fungicide, but we’re not replanting. Some of our stand counts are lower than we’d like, but plants are consistent across the field, with no big skips. Research shows that as 3 plants to a foot will make an adequate stand.
“We sprayed some grasshoppers and a lot of thrips, even though most of my acres have an in-furrow treatment.
“Low rainfall amounts since April 27 prevented preemerge herbicides from activating, so we’ll have to address weeds, and many growers will be putting this new chemistry to the test.
“We usually don’t have to spray plant bugs, but I am seeing more plant bugs than normal. So far, stink bug numbers are low in corn.”
Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, Western Panhandle
“We were very dry until May 17, and since then, we’ve had good soil moisture but could still get in the field to plant and spray. This afternoon (5/26), the sky opened up, so we’ll need to dry out now.
“Plenty of land prep and planting have been underway. We are about 95% finished planting peanuts, and about 50% of our cotton is in the ground. Drought conditions delayed things during late April and into mid-May. We started planting peanuts when it was dry because we could go deeper into moisture, which can sometimes cause stand issues.
“Peanut seed quality has been hit and miss. I hear about it, but I haven’t seen poor stands in my area related to quality. For those guys who have poor stands and are considering replanting, I wrote an article showcasing University of Georgia research that’s helpful for deciding whether to replant.
“Overall, things look pretty good here right now, although we’d like it to stop raining for a few days.”
Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia
“We’ve probably planted 80% of our peanuts. We have some bad stands in certain cases. Most of my growers save peanut seed, so they’re okay. With purchased seed, we are finding some germination problems.
“About 40% of our cotton has been planted. We are spraying thrips. We actually started spraying them in corn, then moved to cotton. Thrips pressure has been heavy regardless of whether you went with a seed treatment or an in-furrow treatment. Cool temperatures slowed down everything and gave thrips time to work on those small plants. I hoped we would be planted by June 1, but with rainy weather now, we won’t make it. I’m worrying about whiteflies on late-planted cotton.
“In corn, we are seeing stinkbugs, mostly greens and some browns, but nothing is close to threshold at this point. In most of our corn behind corn, we’re applying a fungicide at tassel, primarily for northern corn gleaf blight and getting ahead of southern rust. Given the current weather conditions, a preventive fungicide spray might be called for to protect corn, regardless of rotation.”
Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC
“Cotton growers in Virginia are focused on wrapping up planting by early June because of the insurance deadlines but also because our pest management challenges increase. The later you plant, the higher the chances that cotton will come under heavy pest pressure. Don’t use insecticides unless you have to.
“The main concern is that plant bug populations build all season, with August being the month with our heaviest pressure. We want the sprayers put away by then. But if we plant late, we probably can’t do that. You certainly can still profitably bring a cotton crop to harvest with a later planting, but carefully manage those populations and keep scouting well into the season.