Cotton – Southwest: Wet, Dry and Drier – Mother Nature Challenges – AgFax

    Cotton seedlings struggle in wet fields. Photo by Larry Stalcup

    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.


    Weather. It’s too wet in much of east Texas where a tropical storm is lurking. Parched fields are spread from the Panhandle down to El Paso with little chance of rain in sight. Oklahoma and Kansas need drier conditions to help get seed in the ground.

    Fleahoppers are plentiful in central Texas. Bollworms are quiet, but corn earworms are pushing Vip technology. Thrips are taking off in irrigated fields near Plainview.

    A big crop is developing in the Coastal Bend, but weeds are outrunning cotton in wet northeast Texas.



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

    “There has been heavy rain in the southern Blacklands and further south the past week. I talked to a contact that received 6.75 inches this morning (6/1) around the Corpus area. Rain forecast around College Station has fizzled out. Last week the area received from 2 to 3.5 inches. Northwest of College Station, areas suffered heavy hail damage.

    “Overall, the crop looks good. Pinhead-square is the normal stage of growth. With recent rains, I anticipate post-emerge herbicide applications have been going hot and heavy to handle flushes of grassy weeds and pigweed. That’s assuming growers could get into the field.”


    David Drake, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Northeast Texas:

    “Hopefully, the rain is over so we can finish planting. Much of the cotton already planted has struggled. Too much rain and cooler temperatures in May produced poor growing conditions for seedlings. Several replants were needed.

    “Guys that had fields prepared and ready took advantage of an early planting window. Those fields look okay and are approaching 4- to 5-leaf. But most are hurting.

    Weeds, unfortunately, have flourished in the wet weather. Proper herbicide treatments are needed to get them under control. Insects are not yet a problem.

    “Corn looks good, other than the weeds. Growers are starting wheat harvest and they expect to cut a decent crop.”


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

    “We were too wet to get much planted last week. That put us behind on the irrigated leaving more acres left to plant than we’re used to on June 1. June 10 is our insurance deadline for irrigated and June 20 for dryland acres. I’m not complaining about the rain, but we need to have windows to get the crop in the ground.

    “The wet conditions will likely dry out this week due to hot temperatures. Cotton planted about May 15 has a good stand for the most part. It will be interesting to see what we run into now for the later-planted crop. Depending on the amount of residue in the field, dryland could face issues if more rain doesn’t come in the next 2 weeks.

    “The recent rains hopefully activated herbicides applied pre-plant or at planting. Weeds are not a problem now. Most folks know what they’re dealing with in their herbicide technologies and overall weed control systems.”


    Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County:

    “As of Thursday (5/28), cotton in this part of South Texas is from 4-true-leaf to match-head square. It’s off to a good start. Gentle rains in the 0.3- to half-inch range have been beneficial.

    “There are patches of careless weed around, but that’s usual for our area. Aphids were sprayed after they migrated from harvested wheat.

    “Peanuts are about 50% planted with about half of that emerged. Corn looks good, but growers are spraying for leafhoppers.”


    Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield:

    “We’re ready for the warm, dry weather in this week’s forecast. We need to finish planting after rain during the past 2 weeks. We’re maybe 50% planted statewide. I expect the rest to go in this week.

    “Out west, growers are further along than we are here in south central Kansas. They’ve had their best year for planting in a long time. With the drier weather this week, we may end up chasing moisture and have to plant deeper.


    “Some early-planted cotton looks good at about 3-leaf. I saw a crop east of Oklahoma City last week that was 5-leaf.

    “Most of our growers are no-tillers who plant into residue. That’s helping handle weeds early in the season. Overall, I’m optimistic. Our acres should produce similar to last year or even better.”


    David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Professor and Statewide IPM Coordinator:

    “Fleahoppers are nearly at or above threshold for cotton in the southern Blacklands, so populations are high enough to spray in most cases. There are also a few aphids, but they haven’t blown up yet. However, cotton guys need to watch for brown and green stinkbugs, which are currently attacking small soybean pods. They could move into cotton when bolls become larger.

    “Bollworm trap counts are low, but we’re seeing corn earworms. That’s not out of the ordinary, but a few earworms are coming through Vip technology. We don’t want to see that. There is also a little headworm activity in sorghum, while sugarcane aphid numbers are low.”


    Justin Chopelas, JWC Consulting, Odem, Texas/Coastal Bend:

    “It finally cleared up a little this afternoon (6/1), but there’s still rain in the area. It has been heavy at times. One area grower had 8.75 inches from last night to this morning, and there’s a chance the tropical storm in the southern Gulf will move toward the Texas Coast.

    “The older cotton is 6 to 7 NAWF with an incredible fruit set. The canopy is good and is lapping the middles on 38-inch rows. Younger cotton is 10 to 12 nodes and is squaring up nicely.

    “We had a big egg lay and I’ve sprayed 2-gene cotton for bollworms. Thankfully, I’ve seen no breakdowns in 3-gene cotton. Plant bugs are showing up and may need spraying. But overall, insect pressure has been light leading up to this egg lay. Much cotton has only had one insecticide application, though a late-season 6- to 10-inch rain can change that in a hurry.

    “Region-wide, there’s potential for one of the best crops we’ve ever had. New varieties are shinning. Much depends on whether the tropical depression hits us.”


    Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale, Floyd & Swisher Counties:

    “The little rain we got 10 days ago wasn’t enough. Another few tenths of an inch would have helped get the dryland started. The irrigated is hanging on. There are fair stands. However, many fields needed replanting after cold-shock ruined cotton planted too early during unseasonably warm temperatures. Fields planted later are doing pretty well.

    “Thrips populations are higher than average. In northern Hale and Swisher counties, there’s almost an automatic need to spray. Thrips are also heavier south of Plainview.

    “For established cotton, wireworms are no longer a major concern. They didn’t take out as many fields as in the last few years. Growers either made better use of seed treatments or didn’t see the higher populations.

    “Corn is hanging in there, but guys often can’t apply enough water during this dry period. Sorghum is in good shape.”


    Orlando Flores, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, El Paso County:

    “Cotton is taking off. Everything has been planted here and in southeastern New Mexico. The crop should start squaring in the next week, and we’ll begin irrigating soon. It’s a good start to the year.

    “I haven’t heard of any thrips, but we’re watching for them. We had to spray for false chinch bugs early on in Upland varieties. The wet winter caused a flush of London Rocket weed, a perfect host for false chinch bugs. When it dried up, the bugs were everywhere. Even people in town complained about them.


    “Weeds remain under control. Roundup-Ready varieties still work down here. There are no signs of glyphosate resistance, other than in ditches used in flood irrigation. I’ve been very impressed with the clean crop.”


    Randy Boman, Windstar Cotton Agronomics Manager, Edmonson, Texas:

    “With more than a dozen research trials planted across parts of the Panhandle, South Plains and Oklahoma, I’m observing many fields. By and large, the Panhandle area is planted, but guys who planted in a warm temperature window about May 1 are struggling. In mid-May, there were 7 to 8 days of virtually no heat units. Lows were in the 30s.

    “Much of that cotton is still in the 2- to 3-leaf stage. Replanting was common. Stands are better for cotton planted later. Around Plainview, the irrigated is going strong. So those who planted early didn’t gain much.

    “For dryland, it has been a struggle to get fields planted due to the lack of rain. Guys are dusting-in and hoping for the best.

    “Despite poor growing conditions, they need to beat back weeds and control thrips. When we receive good precipitation, we don’t need to shoot ourselves in the foot with a late crop that gets hammered by a thrips population.”


    Robert Flynn, New Mexico State University Extension Soils/Agronomist, Artesia:

    “Most cotton is about at the 3-leaf stage and there are uniform stands. Temperatures remain in the 90s, but a stint of cool weather late last month helped the growth. Growers are doing a good job of keeping weeds under control. They are watching for insect pressure, but none is there so far.”


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

    “I drove to El Paso Sunday to perform research screenings and saw nothing but dry country. Our planting trials down around Denver City need rain like the rest of the area. Growers won’t have much of a crop if they don’t get precipitation.

    “From there and up into Terry County, a few fields were planted into decent moisture. That moisture ran out after rain chances didn’t materialize last week. In Gaines, Yoakum and Terry counties, groundwater is limited for irrigation. Guys with irrigation are struggling to keep up with evaporative demand.

    “Without any rain, the situation is bleak.”


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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.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the main cotton growing season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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