Cotton – Midsouth – Horrible Planting Season Ends, Hoping For Better Days Ahead – AgFax

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Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

Owen Taylor, Editor

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Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by the Midsouth Cotton Team of Amvac Chemical Corporation.

OVERVIEW

Midsouth cotton planting has mostly wrapped up for 2020. A few growers were likely still planting early in the week. Scattered replanting and spot planting also continued as the calendar flipped into June. So, how much cotton the region will plant this year is pretty much a certainty now. It’s just a matter of running the totals once the dust settles.

Planting success depended on how much it rained, when it rained and how quickly soils dried up. Cold conditions in May also held up both planting progress and plant development. Some growers planted 100% of their intended acres, while others fell short by varying degrees, based on our calls over the last two weeks.

Thrips treatments have been necessary in places. In Louisiana, aphid applications started on a limited basis and a small amount of older cotton has been sprayed for plant bugs. In one case, the rapid plant bug accounted for about half the plant bugs one consultant found in some sampling. As cotton pests go in this region, the rapid plant bug is about as obscure as they come. See comments by Sebe Brown.

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CROP REPORTS

Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee

“Planting shut down yet again last week. We did have dry weather on Saturday, Sunday and then today (6/1). Although we’re in the first day of June, this feels like the first day of May. Temperatures are finally warming up, with a favorable forecast.

“One person said that the soil temperature where he checked this morning was the warmest it’s been this year. Things are finally starting to look like May. It’s too bad we already lost that month.

“We’re somewhere close to 70% to 75% planted. We were able to cover a little more ground in those windows last week. I don’t see a tremendous amount of cotton going in this week. Based on conversations, a lot of people have decided to switch to beans.

“Some growers will still keep planting cotton, but we know that a June-planted crop is just not what it would be compared to an April-planted crop. With all the inputs associated with cotton, people get a little nervous about making that commitment now.

“However, anybody who wants to plant cotton will be able to do so this week. The forecast is really good for anyone who wants to put in a few more acres. It’s the first good window we have had. I hate that it had to come in June.

“I’ve been really impressed with how well we’ve dealt with the weather. Farmers will have a pocket where they can plant, but then it rains and they have to quit there and try to move to the next field. Planting progress definitely isn’t as sequential as we’re used to, but we were able to do quite a bit with the terrible windows that we’ve had.”

 

Bob Griffin, Griffin Ag Consulting, Jonesboro, Arkansas

“We planted all of our cotton in 2.5 weeks. It all looks pretty good, and we planted all the cotton we expected to have. All of it has been planted for 10 to maybe 14 days, and my oldest is starting its fifth leaf.

“In places, we’ve already had to come in with herbicides to clean up pigweed. It emerged much sooner than usual behind our at-planting residual. That hasn’t been the case in every field, but in certain cases we did have to treat sooner than expected. Normally, we can go about three weeks before any problems arise, but this year that wasn’t the case. At two weeks, we were already fighting pigweed, and other people seem to be dealing with the same problem in some fields.

“As far as insects go, we treated one small block of cotton for thrips. It was adjacent to a wheat field. Other than that, no problems. A lot of my cotton already has reached four nodes, so we won’t have to worry about thrips on it.

“Some of the cotton is a bit banged up from herbicides, but you have to accept that if you expect to kill pigweeds.

“We always say here that we’re never more than two weeks away from a drought. Even with all the rain we’ve had, people already are watering corn in places. Polypipe deliveries are underway everywhere. It’s always amazing how fast you can go from seeing four inches of water standing in a field to needing to irrigate.

“My biggest corn is at the eighth collar. It’s some of the best corn I’ve ever seen, and we’re finishing our last nitrogen applications in those fields. In our younger corn, the layby herbicide is going out. My oldest soybeans are just starting to bloom.”

 

Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist

“Some people in southwest Arkansas were planting today (6/1). We had to replant a variety test in Clark County, so our cooperator was running. We’re getting into the short rows now.

“Last week, NASS estimated that we were 72% planted. Based on last week’s rainy weather, I didn’t expect us to be much more than 80% planted when the report came out this afternoon. But NASS today put us at 91% planted, which is nearly 10% more than I expected.

“But that total won’t go up much from here on out. If cotton seed isn’t in the ground now, I don’t know how much more I would be willing to push it. We’ve already made the switch away from our later maturing varieties. We’re supposed to have really good weather up until Thursday, so I would have a hard time planting cotton after this Thursday or Friday.

“We’re looking at a great forecast until Thursday, and I bet by then we’ll have everything planted that we will have. That probably should move us pretty close to 100% of our intended acres. Again, I really never imagined we would plant all of our intended acres, but we’re already in the 90s (percentage) now and have great weather for spot planting.

“In one test, we planted cotton right before that cold front, and the field accumulated zero heat units in the first five days after planting. It was seven or eight days after planting before that field finally started getting heat units. It took a while, but out of 12 varieties, over 90% of the seed came up with more than half the varieties.

“That really shows what great seed quality we were planting. Those seeds and the seed treatments were pretty expensive but they work, and we got lucky with how the weather played out. In those first days after planting, the air temperature was cold, but any rain came at night. During the day, we hardly had any clouds and the sun was bright, which would have helped warm the soil.

“If it had rained during the day and remained cloudy and cold, that would have lowered our soil temperatures and affected emergence. The outcome was far better than I expected.

“I’m just very glad that we didn’t have the poor seed quality that we had last year, or it would’ve been a really bad situation.”

 

Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana:

“Our cotton is doing much better than right after we planted it. With this warm weather, it has really jumped in the last three or four days (from 6/1). We’ve finished replanting. About 600 to 700 acres of cotton won’t be planted and they’ll take the prevented planting. In this case, it was land that they owned. If they had rented the ground, they probably would have replanted.

“My farmers will take a risk with June-planted cotton when the market is at 70 cents but not at 50 cents.

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“We had to spray for thrips, which doesn’t surprise me because the cotton got to that button stage or first true leaf and just sat there for a while. It’s moving on now but thrips found it in the meantime. The cotton we sprayed last week for thrips has reached four to five leaves, so it’ll be out of danger. That’s probably a third of my acres.

“Weeds are coming up now, but we’ve got plenty of options for that. It’s been wet, so those weeds haven’t hardened off yet, and we’ve been able to kill much bigger weeds than normal. Sometimes that worries me because people might get a false sense of security about how well certain herbicides will normally perform.

“We couldn’t use dicamba because rain kept us out of the fields so much. But we used Liberty in our beans and corn, and it did really well. Even the pigweed that it normally wouldn’t kill was gone. Again, we had that moisture on our side. Right now, we’re holding our own.

“Corn started out rough, but with this sunshine now, it’s taking off. Where corn is into the fertilizer, it looks especially strong. But I think, again, people could end up with a false sense of security. That corn looks like it could be above average, but I’m seeing areas where roots were waterlogged and aren’t as developed as we’d expect. Farmers might be tempted to add extra nitrogen, but I’m thinking it won’t give an economic return.

“Early on, we found instances of Northern corn leaf blight, but it has since disappeared.

“People are still planting soybeans. Older soybeans are already up to the third or fourth true leaf. Some of my narrow-row fields are actually beginning to canopy. Like with the other crops, they’ve really taken off in the last several days. The beans came up better, too, than corn or cotton. Farmers concentrated on planting those other crops during mostly poor conditions. That delayed soybeans. By the time we could plant beans, soil temperatures had improved.”

 

Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University

“We have cotton that’s at four or five leaves now, and the earlier planted cotton is growing fast. The vast majority of the crop is probably between one and two leaves.

“This warm weather makes everything much easier. Other than a few calls about thrips, it really hasn’t been bad. A few people also called about seedling disease and poor stands. We’ve seen some plants dying off, and in places enough stand loss has occurred to prompt decisions about whether to replant.

“Other than some replanting, we’re mostly done. But even then, I’m not hearing of many cases where people will replant. Heavy rains fell over the weekend in northeast Mississippi around Itawamba County, and they’ve been waiting for the water to move off the field to decide if they’ll have to replant.

“It’s relatively quiet now. I’m starting to see herbicide injury –  off-target injury or where the wrong herbicides went out on cotton with a specific seed technology.”

 

Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas

“We’ve finished planting cotton, and I think most everybody wrapped it up before the first of June. Our oldest cotton is at around the fifth node, and that’s about where I would expect it right now.

“Herbicides and fertilizer are going out on a lot of it, but it’s kind of been a slow start. The cotton should be past thrips, but we still see them hanging around. But I believe the cotton is growing fast enough now that thrips aren’t much of a concern. Most of what we’re spraying are plants that were caught in that bit of cool weather, which delayed growth and left them more susceptible to thrips.

“Corn is just about all laid by, and I think we pretty much finished that before all the rain last week. A lot of soybeans are still being planted on heavy ground. We’ve laid by our oldest soybeans, and some of those are starting to bloom right on schedule.

“Peanuts have grown pretty slowly, and it took a long time to call some of them at a stand.”

 

Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana

“Our cotton ranges from two true leaves up to some of the oldest that’s starting to put on little squares. We’re cleaning up thrips in several fields where we’re applying herbicides.

“We’ve finished planting cotton. This time last year, it was dry, and we were watering fields to try to get cotton up to a stand. From that standpoint, we’re in better shape this year. We’ve got a stand on everything, and we aren’t having to run water.

“I did see some aphids yesterday (6/1), which is kind of weird considering how early it is, but they would have to be a lot worse before I would be concerned.

“The bulk of our corn has finished pollinating. We’ve watered most of it where we can and are probably on the second irrigation on much of it. A very limited acreage of our soybeans are at R4, but the bulk of them range from emerging to just starting to bloom.”

 

Andy Graves, Graves Agronomy Service, Clarksdale, Mississippi

“We’ve had a rough time because of all the rain. We’re in a mess right now with weeds, but we’re working towards cleaning them up. Thrips pressure is getting pretty heavy and I’m spraying, but we’re not finding the kind of results you’d like to see. We’re trying to piggyback insecticides with herbicides, and we have to avoid certain combinations that are too hot. That’s reducing some of the effect on thrips.

“We have a good crop and it came up to pretty good stands aside from a few little issues here and there. Now, we’re struggling to clean it all up.

“Spraying weather is good right now. Hopefully, we can get a shot of herbicide on everything this week and then receive rain to move us out of the thrips problem.

“With cotton, we planted pretty much everything that we wanted. I’ll have a hundred acres here and there that we didn’t plant because we simply ran out of time. One of my growers actually finished replanting yesterday (6/1). We’re doing a little spot planting now, but that’s mainly to put something in skips and bare spots for weed control.

“We’ve had trouble with replanting because it’s been so wet. It rained four inches last week, and it was already wet when that happened.”

 

Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist

“Places in central Louisiana that received too much rain earlier now need a decent rain. It’s hot and dry in spots. In north Louisiana, irrigation started up in a lot of corn. I’ve also heard that irrigation cranked up in some of the older cotton on that tougher ground that needs a shower about every 10 days.

“That tropical storm (Cristobal) in the Gulf of Mexico could bring rain, but hopefully not too much.

“We hit almost another wave of thrips in specific parts of the state, like Tensas Parish, which is our largest cotton parish. In places, thrips pressure was pretty severe, although in other areas they weren’t an immediate issue.

“Where thrips developed in Tensas Parish, it was in cotton planted in the first and second weeks of May. People were finding upwards of 20 immatures on plants. Oversprays went out in places but, again, parts of the parish didn’t have treatable numbers.

“Thrips are mostly coming off alternate hosts. Weeds along ditch banks have been drying down in places. Herbicide applications also are taking out hosts. Italian ryegrass has been pretty common in places, and herbicides desiccated it, which pushed thrips into cotton. Wheat is another host for thrips, but wheat acres are pretty negligible this year.

“Aphid numbers also are picking up in cotton, and applications have started on some farms. We’ve gone without rain for 10 days and highs have moved into the 90s, which is a recipe for aphids. I wouldn’t be surprised if spider mites aren’t far behind.

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“Plant bug applications also started in our earliest cotton. One consultant said he was making an aphid application in one field and was beginning to treat plant bugs in another.

“One consultant also said he was finding a threshold level of plant bugs, with about equal numbers of tarnished plant bugs and rapid plant bugs. We don’t often find rapid plant bugs, but they can inflict some serious damage in cotton. Chalk that up to 2020 being an odd year.”

 

Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Mississippi

“We’re through planting cotton and everything is up to a stand. The crop ranges from cotyledon to the fifth true leaf. I think we planted everything we wanted except for acreage around Grenada Lake. This is the third year in a row that the lake covered up that land, and I don’t think that’s every happened in the past.

“We sprayed for thrips in all the earlier cotton last week and will spray most of the rest this week. We have enough herbicide injury that cotton needs help. We’ll bypass the seedling cotton right now but hit everything that hasn’t been treated already. On average, our cotton is at two to three nodes. The applications last week may give those plants enough of a break to outgrow thrips now.

“This is the first year in the last eight years that I haven’t had an increase in cotton acres, but they also didn’t go down, either.

“We’ve laid by the corn. All the nitrogen is out other than the tassel shot that we’ll make on irrigated corn.

“In soybeans, a good many planters are running. We’re just now able to get into a lot of fields. Our earliest soybeans are still relatively young.”

 

Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas

“We’ve finished planting cotton. The last field went in probably a week ago (from 6/3). Due to all the rain delays and cold conditions, we came up short about 10% on what we expected to plant. Plus, we planted about a week later than we planned.

“We’re finding an awful lot of thrips this week. They’ve really jumped on cotton in the last several days, and we’re spraying a bigger portion of our crop this week.

“We are still trying to fight pigweed and are going in with overlapping residual herbicides. We’re past the point in Arkansas that we can apply dicamba, and we’re putting out Liberty in places.

“Our corn looks really good. All the herbicides are out and all the fertilizer has been applied except for the pre-tassel shot. Growers are watering corn.

“Probably 75% of our beans have been planted. We’ve applied overlapping residuals but have run into a moisture issue. At least some of those herbicides are laying on dry dirt and need a rain for activation.”

AgFax Midsouth Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
 
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