Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University
“On May 17, USDA estimated that we had planted 52% of our intended cotton crop. I don’t have this week’s updated estimate yet, but in the last week (from 5/26), we have made progress towards closing that gap. At least some cotton remains unplanted, and everyone is watching the weather and trying to work around the rain.
“Plenty of cotton has emerged, and it’s off to a good start. I would rate it as good to excellent.
“I’ve received very few calls. I haven’t heard of very many having stand issues, but there have been a few calls about thrips and things like that. Nothing out of the ordinary has come to my attention, and most of the cotton that I’ve seen appears to be pretty clean.
“Hopefully, most farmers will get a rain out of this current weather system because it’s gotten pretty dry across parts of our production area.”
Gary Wolfe, La-Ark Agricultural Consulting, Ida, Louisiana
“We have planted all our cotton. I expect very little replanting, but it’s a May crop and it’s growing slowly. We didn’t get everything planted as early as we would have liked, but what can you do?
“Some fertilizer has gone out, but I’d say the majority of the cotton has yet to e fertilized.
“We haven’t had any issues with insects so far. We will probably add some sort of insecticide for thrips when we apply a herbicide, but other than that, it’s been quiet around here.”
Tyson Raper, Cotton nd Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee
“In some pockets, we were able to plant quite a few acres through the weekend. After all the planting hat as done on Tuesday (5/26), I’d say we have over 50% of the cotton planted. Everyone is trying to figure out which farms are drying up enough, then move there as fast as possible.
“It’s raining again. Amounts and coverage have been sporadic. South of I-40, it’s rained less, and things have gone pretty well. But north of I-40, more rain fell and everyone has been struggling to plant.
“One individual, who has worked with cotton since the early 1960s, said this is one of the worst years he has seen for trying to plant and grow a crop. For us, there hasn’t been another year that would compare to the roadblocks we’ve hit so far in 2020.
“Most of the calls still concern switching to an earlier maturing variety, but I’ve also discussed identifying the point at which we quit planting cotton. However, at the moment, we’re still planting in every suitable spot we can find.
“We are starting to see a few thrips issues in the earliest planted cotton. Farmers planted those fields in cold conditions, so that cotton grew slowly. It’s a classic scenario for when you expect thrips to become a problem, and people are starting to treat.”
Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi
“All of our intended cotton has been planted. At the time of the last cold snap, we might have had a quarter of the cotton planted. It looks a little rough, but that cotton is finally at two true leaves and is starting to grow a little. It doesn’t have a really good root system. We’ve actually had to over-treat for thrips in some of that older cotton.
“The rest of the cotton has basically all come up within the last two weeks, and it looks really nice. The terminal and the first true leaf are slick, which is a good sign that immature thrips aren’t feeding inside it.
“I bet we have over 90% of our soybeans planted. Of that, 80% have emerged and look really good. We’ve had to replant less this year than in the last several springs. We haven’t had many of those hard rains between planting and emergence that force you into replanting. Soybeans are so forgiving. They’ll come up through anything except a packed, crusted silt loam soil, which is the better cotton soil.
“Interestingly, we had a field with heavy clay on one end and perfect cotton ground on the other. The grower broke it up and planted soybeans on all of it, and then a heavy rain came. The beans planted in the heavy clay pushed right up through the muddy clay to a perfect stand. But the beans planted in that picture-perfect cotton ground struggled to emerge.
“Most of our corn has reached the V5 or V6 stage, and most of it still doesn’t have that dark green color we’re looking for at this stage. We do have some earlier planted corn at V7 or V8 that looks better.
“With our sweet potatoes, we’re probably 20% planted, which is about where we would like to be at this point. We haven’t had any issues with the sweet potatoes so far.”
Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi
“I just looked at a farm in the north Delta that has some of the last cotton planted in the northern part of our territory. It’s all up except for a couple of little spots growers planted in the last day or two.
“Our earliest planted cotton is in the third and fourth true leaf stage, but the majority is in the two-leaf stage. So far, we have some really pretty cotton. Some of our cotton acres are just emerging, so we have quite an array.
“We haven’t had any thrips issues to speak of yet. We will probably see more soon because some of that later cotton only had the base seed treatment. We looked at it today, and thrips were running almost at threshold. The farmer will spray as soon as he can get to it.
“Other than that, most of the cotton had a standard imidacloprid seed treatment plus we over-treated a lot of it with acephate. We’ve been doing that the last couple of years to give everything a little boost against thrips, which has worked well.
“On the older cotton, we’ve started putting out a residual herbicide, mainly with Roundup. We haven’t applied any dicamba yet because it hasn’t been needed. In our preemerge program, we used a good deal of Cotoran and Brake and had good activation. We’ve taken several approaches. In places, we applied Brake and added a little Cotoran, but we’ve also used each of them by themselves.
“Our soybeans are looking good, too. They range from just emerging to V6. Except for weed control, we haven’t had to do anything in the beans.
“A lot of guys got in a hurry and planted soybeans flat without making a good burndown spray. Then the rain caught them before they could come back and spray again, so in a few spots we’ve come in with dicamba and Roundup to control weeds that emerged in the meantime. Where we have Boundary out as our preemerge, everything is clean.
“Insect pressure in corn has been unusually low this year. Normally, we deal with stink bugs in places but haven’t had to spray them like we usually expect. A few people started watering corn, but hopefully, we’ll get rain in the next couple of days.
“With all the cool weather, it took peanuts two weeks to emerge, but they are up now to what I would just about call a stand.”
Bill Brooks, Mid-South Farmers Cooperative, Alamo, Tennessee
“It’s been raining and, in fact, it’s raining again right now (late morning, 5/27). In the last two weeks, we’ve only had a few days of good running. Since mid-March, the longest stretch in the field was four or five days.
“Growers have planted 50% to maybe 60% of our intended cotton crop. Anyone who had still been planting corn quit about a week ago, so we have some unplanted corn acres that will likely go into soybeans.