Cotton – Southeast – Planting Winds Down — Now On To All The Other Challenges – AgFax

    Photo: North Carolina State University

    Pam Caraway, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Spider mites are building early in isolated areas. Overall, thrips pressure is easing. Aphids are starting to build in places where you might expect to find them in the first half of June. With more of the early cotton squaring, plant bugs are on the horizon.

    Tropical storm Cristobal stalled herbicide work over the last several days. Rainfall amounts varied. Parts of the lower Southeast received heavy amounts. A large swath of our coverage area needed rain, so the storm mostly came at a good time for farmers.

    Cotton planting has essentially wrapped up. A bit of replanting may still be underway and double cropped cotton will follow small grains and sweet corn in the lower Southeast. Otherwise, the acreage total has been set. It’s just a matter of adding it all up.

    The “dicamba disturbance” – as we’ve come to call it – has thrown a monkey wrench into weed control plans for many growers who went with dicamba-tolerant technology. A federal court decision late last week voided registrations on three key dicamba formulations tied to the traited varieties. To connect to more information, check out the related links in our Also Of Note section.



    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

    “We have a hodgepodge, with different stages of cotton and different insect challenges in various places. We are still dealing with this spring’s main players, plus spider mites are on the scene now, too.

    “We have snails in north Florida and slugs in Talladega County, Alabama. The slugs cost at least one farmer a stand. Armyworms are turning up in southwest Alabama on conventional corn.

    “On cotton, we’re finding thrips and spider mites in Prattville and grasshoppers in central Alabama. Any treatment decision right now largely depend on the stage of the cotton. If it’s still young, treating thrips and grasshoppers could be justified.

    “Finding spider mites so soon may indicate we’re in store for an explosive summer. To explode, spider mites only need about two weeks of hot and dry weather. That’s not going to happen this week. In the last 24 hours, Tropical Storm Cristobal dropped 8 inches of rain at Fairhope, Alabama.

    “Starting next week, let’s check closely for plant bug damage in our oldest cotton. Our cotton and the plant bug’s wild hosts are out of sync this year, but I don’t know whether that’s good or bad.

    “The main wild host, daisy fleabane, is maturing on time, and that should trigger plant bug movement off those plants. But cotton growth is running behind schedule, so it might not be as attractive to plant bugs as they leave the fleabane. We may catch a break in the chain and plant bugs will go to something besides cotton. Or, plant bugs could flow from wild hosts into cotton.”


    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia

    “People are finishing up planting. We’re pretty much over the thrips hump. Aphid populations are starting to build, which is typical for this time of the year. We will start seeing hot spots in fields and ultimately the whole field will be infected.

    “Cotton is squaring and we’re beginning to pick up plant bugs in our earliest planted fields. Although plant bugs aren’t a common pest in Georgia, they seem to be occurring with a little more frequency. Every year, we treat a few fields.

    “The only way to know whether to treat is to scout every field. People need to be calculating square retention and using sweep nets. Be mindful of economic thresholds. We don’t need 100% square retention. Our goal is to retain 80% of first position squares when we enter first bloom. Only treat fields that are at or above threshold.

    “When cotton begins squaring, that’s when beneficial insects also move into the field. If you don’t have a plant bug problem, let Mother Nature do what she can and preserve beneficials. We definitely will need their help when corn earworms and other bugs move into cotton later.

    “Growers are spraying weeds and putting out plant growth regulator on April-planted cotton. I think we’re generally off to a strong start in Georgia and we have good stands. One consultant said he has the best stands of his career, and that’s always good to hear.”


    Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia

    “Our cotton is about 90% planted. The remaining 10% is double-cropped behind wheat or sweet corn. We replanted some earlier cotton, but the later planted stands look good.

    “We’re starting to apply fertilizer on some fields. The oldest cotton I have is at about 10 nodes, and we’re applying plant growth regulator on it. Thrips pressure is easing up, and cotton is growing better with the warmer temperatures.


    “We were spraying cotton and peanuts for pigweed, but 5 inches of rain fell at the start of the week. So, we may not be back in the field until next week. With this current weather, it’s easy for pigweeds to get ahead of us.

    “The peanut situation isn’t good because we are having trouble getting into the field. We’re at 28 to 30 days post-planting with our peanuts and they’re pretty clean. But I’m concerned about how quickly we can return to the field. We might be late with herbicides, so we’ll have to make a lot of different decisions about our approach.

    “The guys who had to replant peanuts are in the most difficult situation. Let me emphasize that this isn’t an across-the-board problem. Probably eight out of 10 growers are fine. But those other 2 guys are contending with poor germination, and they don’t have time to replant peanuts, plus take care of everything else.

    “A few foliage feeders are showing up in peanuts, but nothing at threshold so far. Rain is keeping lesser cornstalk borers at bay.”

    “We sprayed all of our field corn for Southern rust. The corn crop is anywhere from pollinating to soft dough stage. We are looking at about 3 to 3.5 more weeks of watering the oldest corn. Sweet corn has a good market right now, and our crop is one of the best we’ve had.”


    Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina

    “This has been a hard spring. We had four or five days in May when it was warm enough and we could plant just about anything. But the last two days of May were right before a 4-inch rain, so it’s some of the worst looking acreage now.

    “Too much rain and extremely cold temperatures in May created problems that aren’t common here — more herbicide injury, replant situations in cotton and peanuts, and prevented planting in cotton. About 20% of our peanuts are being replanted. About a third of our intended cotton acreage wasn’t planted. We will be working a lot more soybeans than we have in a long time, simply by default.

    “Thrips pressure has increased in cotton and peanuts. A lot of the effect on the plants gets back to cold conditions and slow growth, not to any huge populations of thrips. In our area, one indicator of thrips populations is the degree to which we find tomato spotted wilt virus in tobacco. This year, we haven’t seen much of it.

    “Overall, corn appears to have slightly better than average potential. However, we also have fields that will be written off as disasters.

    “Soybeans could end up being outstanding.

    “We finally had a good solid week for getting things done. To a large extent, farmers have been able to catch up on herbicide work and apply fungicides and insecticides as needed.

    “In times like these, you try to go back to some simplistic sayings. It may sound trite, but one of them is, ‘A bad start can make for a great ending.’ It will be an uneven finish, and it won’t all be great, but maybe we will come out okay.”


    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina

    “We are in the same holding pattern that we were last week. Insect pressure is mostly light. In cotton, we’re at the tail end of the thrips window. We’re not totally out of the woods on thrips, and some of the later planted cotton is infested and may need treatment. But we’re getting there. With this moisture and the sun, they’ll outgrow thrips injury and be good.

    “In soybeans, we swept some young fields and found grasshoppers and threecornered alfalfa hoppers. But we didn’t see anything that needed attention.”


    Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University

    “With this warm weather and sunshine, cotton is starting to grow. Growers planted or replanted a little more cotton, and that finishes it for us. We’re seeing a good many bad stands, and how stands look pretty much depends this year on planting date and when it rained. The question was whether to move to soybeans or frantically replant – and I say frantically because we were out of time.

    “Growers made numerous thrips sprays and some continue to treat. Herbicides are going out but we’re not quite ready to apply plant growth regulators. We have cotton that’s old enough for a PGR but it’s not big enough yet.”


    Brad Smith, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Selma, Alabama

    “We are muddy, thankfully. It’s always good to be a little muddy a time or two in June. Most fields have been sprayed for thrips at least once and some twice. Most cotton is growing fast enough to get ahead of the thrips, we think.

    “We’re trying to avoid any additional thrips sprays that could flare spider mites. But we also know we need to have a cotton crop before we can worry about spider mites.

    “We just need a little better price for cotton, and the market seems to be working with us on that. It held above the 60-cent resistance level on Monday (6/8), so hopefully that will be a new floor.

    “Soybeans are starting to pod up well. Corn is already tasseling. Most growers have planned a fungicide application, and they’re trying to make as much yield as they can. With this stormy weather pushing in, we want to protect our crop, and the conditions are ripe for disease.”


    Bryce Sutherland, S&R Ag Consulting, Sylvester, Georgia

    “We caught some rain on Monday, so things are starting to progress well. The oldest cotton is squaring and we will soon apply a plant growth regulator. Plant bugs don’t look bad. Aphids are starting to show up.

    “We are beginning to find caterpillars in peanuts, corn and grain sorghum. We are keeping a close eye on them, but nothing concerns us yet.


    “Corn is tasseling and into R1 to R2. Conditions are good for pollination, and we aren’t seeing a lot of stink bugs or disease. I’m closely scouting for Southern rust, which is showing up in neighboring counties, plus we’re getting this rain.

    “In all of our row crops, weeds are coming up fast, so we’re working hard to clean them up. That’s one pest we are going to spend money to manage.

    “Our watermelons look good. We had a little fusarium and pythium early and some gummy stem blight recently. We stick to a good fungicide program and rotate chemistries so everything is in check. We’ll start harvesting in 10 to 14 days.”


    Scott Graham, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

    “Spider mites turned up on just about all of the cotton at the Prattville research station, but it was planted a good bit earlier than most of the cotton in central Alabama. Where cotton is younger, the rain will probably beat back spider mites.

    “Before the rain this week, heavy thrips pressure built on mid-May plots in Belle Mina in the Tennessee Valley. From last week to this week, thrips injury increased in that test, which is at about the fourth leaf. Thrips may be a little heavier than we expected in north Alabama.

    “The rain should slow down spider mites, although if we move into a dry period, mites could still quickly explode. To help curb spider mites, avoid back-to-back acephate sprays. You do have to protect your crop and we know it’s hard to rotate away from acephate because it’s effective. But if you need a second spray, it’s better to follow up with a softer chemistry to avoid causing more problems.”


    Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee

    “Our cotton is all planted and ranges from cotyledon to five leaves (as of 6/8). We really have two cotton crops this year. We planted about half the cotton by the end of April, and that crop is at four to five leaves. The second cotton crop went in around May 25 when fields finally dried up again. That cotton is up to two leaves, which means the older cotton is only 7 to 8 days ahead of the later planted crop, physiologically speaking.

    “On this end of the cotton belt we’re always watching the calendar, trying to predict where we will be at any given point in the future. Last year, cotton bloomed around the end of June, but looking at our crop this year, I don’t think it will bloom until July 10. Since we want six weeks of bloom, we’ll likely enter September with our blooms. We want to grow the bolls for 35 to 40 days, which pushes defoliation into October.

    “The late-planted cotton has had ideal growing conditions. We would have liked to have planted it earlier, of course, but it was much too cold and wet in May to do that. With those cold conditions, we were afraid we might lose some cotton acres we already had planted.

    “We’ve done very little field replanting but have had to spot-replant a large amount of cotton in low areas. We sprayed the more mature cotton for thrips.

    “Farmers worked around showers and planted plenty of soybeans in the past 7 to 10 days. Thank goodness we haven’t had a large, general rain. Farmers could find enough dry fields to keep going, and they’re pushing hard now to finish soybeans.

    “With all the unfavorable weather, farmers weren’t able to spray herbicides earlier. A number of tankmix combinations have been going out to take care of big winter and spring weeds, plus leave residual protection.

    “Farmers weren’t able to plant all the corn they intended, and those remaining acres are going into soybeans now.”


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    Alabama Cotton: 3 Key Questions About Sidedressing Nitogen 6-8

    Alabama: Dicamba’s Status — 5 Questions 6-6

    Alabama Cotton: Slugs and Snails Raise Questions – Here Are Answers 6-

    Alabama: Cotton Blue Disease On Ratoon Cotton? Does It Matter? 6-6

    Georgia Cotton: With Dicamba Disruption, 3 Pigweed Scenarios 6-9

    Georgia Peanuts: Lesser Cornstalk Borers Present, Scout Fields 6-5

    North Carolina Cotton, Soybeans: Deciphering The Specifics of Dicamba Ban 6-9

    North Carolina Cotton: Time to Watch for Thrips 6-4

    Tennessee Cotton, Soybeans: Controlling Pigweed with Dicamba Uncertainty 6-9

    Tennessee Cotton: Dealing with Thrips, Loss of Dicamba – Podcast 6-5

    Virginia Cotton: Right on Time for Date It Was Planted 6-9

    Virginia Cotton: Leaf Scorch Mostly Cosmetic 6-5

    Cotton – Southwest – Dicamba Disruption, More Facts Come into Focus – AgFax   6-10

    Dicamba Cancellation: Growers Can Still Use Current Stocks Until July 31 – DTN   6-9

    AgFax Southeast Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production 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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