Cotton – Southwest – Insects, Herbicides and PGRs – AgFax

    Cotton bloom. Photo: Debra L Ferguson

    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.


    “Happy” is an uncommon word when it comes to late-planted cotton, but rains in the Panhandle have lightened the mood. Now it’s time to crank up the PGR applications.

    One pigweed plant can produce half-a-million seed, which is just one factor pushing growers to look for better pre-emerge choices as they wait for new chemistries to come along.

    Will cotton seed planted into dry soil germinate for Kansas growers? If not, some growers may start loading soybean seed into the hopper.



    Tim Ballinger, Ballinger Innovative Agronomics, Dumas, Texas:

    “I’m a happy man. Much of the Panhandle received rain and really needed it. We got 3 inches of rain in Dumas last night (6/22) and 2.12 inches just north and east of here. Spearman got 1 to 1.7 inches.

    “We have confidence in this crop, but it is about a month behind due to the cool May. Closer management is important and it’s time to get after it following this rain with timely PGRs to keep plants short and tight. My earliest cotton is at 7 to 8 leaf and putting on pinhead squares. Keep it fruiting, not vegetating, to take advantage of the late fruit. We were a month behind last year as well but still made 2- to 3-bale cotton using timely PGR applications.

    “Much of the northern Panhandle had various replant decisions after the high wind this month. I got a little dryland planted, and it should take advantage of the rain. I even had one grower come back with irrigated soybeans, which is not a common crop up here.

    “Thrips were a problem early, but we’re beyond that growth stage on most cotton. Other insects have been quiet. Kochia remains hard to control. It takes about 20 gallons of glufosinate per acre to kill kochia, plus it also handles pigweed. I’m not using dicamba for now. That one chemistry won’t control kochia. I try to start clean with burndowns and pre-emerge to prevent weed problems.

    “Mites are showing up in corn and we applied miticides to handle them. Corn is about 13-leaf and 2 weeks away from tasseling. Our wheat crop has been phenomenal. Yields are 70 to 80 bushels for irrigated.”


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

    “We have a lot of cotton that hasn’t bloomed and is susceptible to fleahoppers. Their numbers have picked up, and guys are still spraying. We also had a huge bollworm flight over the weekend. They’re laying lots of eggs, which are hatching, and we’re seeing many small worms.

    “There isn’t much injury to Bt cotton. But plants are just starting to bloom and will be stressed. We won’t know about potential bollworm damage until later this week and into next week. We’re also seeing a lot of eggs in sorghum.

    “There are more stink bugs than we usually see this early. When bolls are the size of quarters, bollworms and stink bugs should definitely be on your radar.

    “Aphids are also a potential problem. Aphids thrive in the cooler, wet weather seen recently in the southern Blacklands. Many growers have applied acephate to control fleahoppers, which likely killed beneficials as well. I won’t be surprised if we have an aphid outbreak.

    “We have really high square set on much of the cotton.  We need to protect those squares and maintain as much fruit as possible.”


    Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Hockley, Cochran & Lamb Counties:

    “Weeds are not much of a problem, but we’re concerned there won’t be enough dicamba in the barn to do what we need to do when it finally rains. Liberty will be a better tool if we get more rain.

    “We’re beyond the need to spray for thrips, but need to worry about fleahoppers. There are no major losses on young squares, but they’re apparent in silverleaf nightshade. We’ll see how that changes as we see more squaring. Also, look for a plant bug buildup although hot days should help suppress their reproduction.


    “Parts of this region received good rain last week. Levelland had close to an inch. However, any direction out of town had lesser amounts. It was enough to germinate dryland plants but they were dead after 3 days due to lack of soil moisture and no more rainfall. Insurance adjusters are already looking at failed fields. Most of those growers will likely replant with milo.

    “Part of the irrigated crop is also in despair from short groundwater availability and high winds. We can’t rely on irrigation only. We have to supplement rainfall, not the other way around. But despite those types of situations, there are irrigated fields that look good. Those fields are at 8 to 9 true leaves and first-position squares. That is not the norm. High heat and the lack of rain plus high winds the past few weeks have played havoc on the crop. More moderate temperatures are in the forecast, as is rain.”


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

    “There are still few reports of damaging insect infestations. Various IPM agents in the Blacklands area report little activity. There are a few fleahoppers in the northern Blacklands, but nothing close to last year. I’m not hearing much from the Brazos Bottom either.

    “There aren’t many weedy fields. Guys did a good job with post-emergence weed control. The ruling on dicamba shouldn’t be a problem because the crop is at the point where we’re seeing thick canopy closure. However, it’s essential to remove any pigweed escapes from the field. Whether it’s waterhemp or Palmer pigweed, if you see one plant, get that thing out of the field. It can produce a-half million seeds, which can present a problem for the next year. Also, guys need to monitor weed growth in areas adjacent to fields. Weed flushes may need to be sprayed to manage insect infestations.

    “Meanwhile, the crop is looking good. It’s nearly at first bloom. The region finally received rain last week after being dry since nearly Memorial Day. If we receive more rain during the boll-loading period, we should be in good shape.”


    Tom Studnicka, Studnicka Consulting, Belle Plaine, Kansas:

    “We finally got significant rainfall Friday (6/19) after several weeks of dry, windy weather. A few areas also received rain Sunday night, so growing conditions are much improved. Our furthest along cotton will see pinhead-square this week.

    “There was much planting at the beginning of the dry period. The crop was severely stressed and literally dried out right behind the planter. That seed welcomed the rain after setting dry in the soil for several weeks. We’ll see if we get a stand in those fields and decide whether to keep it, or give up and go to soybeans.

    “Growers are spraying for thrips as the crop finally gets going. In fields reaching pinhead-square, we’ll be scouting for fleahoppers. Weed-wise, early control measures, and the dry weather have held back weeds in most cases. As for the situation with dicamba, most guys either had it purchased or delivered. The state of Kansas gave dealers the go-ahead to sell and move whatever dicamba inventory they had on hand. It looks like we will be covered for cotton. However, dicamba supplies could run short for late-planted soybeans.

    “Dryland corn was also in dire straits before the recent rain. But we should be able to salvage most of it if we continue to get more precipitation.”


    Kate Crumley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Upper Coast:

    “There is little bollworm damage, but they just started a big egg-lay late last week. They are laying all over the plant and in odd places – under bloom tags and down inside – making it tougher to scout. Scout closely.

    “It’s raining again today (6/23) with more expected this week, which may hamper scouting. I’m not as worried about stink bugs in cotton, even though we have just about any stink bug species you can think of in soybeans and sorghum. They’re causing a few dings to plants, but nothing major.

    “More rain won’t hurt the cotton. The latest crop is at 8 to 9 NAWF and needs the last push to finish strong. The earliest is 3 to 4 NAWF.

    “Soybeans look good as well as sorghum. Sugarcane aphids are not as heavy in sorghum, but they are here. The rain should push them back. However, guys need to watch for SCA. They don’t want them to move up the plants later in the season.” 


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

    “Fields look nice and clean. Guys managed their early herbicide applications well. Center pivot irrigation water helped incorporate residuals into fields. There are a few issues with volunteer corn, which will require treatments in some cases. I realize we will eventually hit a wall with dicamba availability. Tavium, which is a combination of dicamba and metolachlor, is a potential alternative.

    “Many plants are squaring or approaching it. If we see pinhead-square, we’re probably 21 days out from bloom. Fleahoppers could become a problem. Excessive growth from recent rains and irrigation will require sound management of PGR applications. From this point forward, if growers have good water and fertility, they need to be on those fields with PGRs and any necessary insect control. Early management of the crop is vital.


    “Growers are still measuring the damage received from the strong winds, up to 70 mph, that pounded the Texas Panhandle 2 weeks ago. They’re also looking at potential hail damage in the past week. Much cotton was either completely replanted, or had spot replants into existing stands. But when you replant in the Panhandle of northern Texas and Oklahoma in mid-June, you’re running the risk of being on the backside of the season with not enough heat units.

    “Fortunately, parts of both panhandles and southwestern Oklahoma received rain the past weekend and Monday evening. It was spotty, but measurements ranged from less than an inch up to 5 inches at Grandfield, Oklahoma. I had 1.5 inches over the weekend in the Altus area. That will help dryland cotton that was waiting on moisture. It should also help growers still licking their wounds from wind and hail damage.”


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

    “Conditions remain dry around the region, although the western half of the South Plains finally received precipitation on Monday (6/22). Totals varied from a few hundredths on the far west side to about 2 inches south of Lubbock.

    “Although scattered, I have seen 4-to 5-leaf cotton that will also benefit from the moisture. The Panhandle received much-needed rainfall north of Amarillo. Today there are more rain chances to the west.

    “With the recent rains one thing is certain, the weeds are coming. Growers need to keep an eye on the fields to make sure weeds are not getting ahead of us.”


    Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford:

    “There is more resistant pigweed across the state. It is uncontrolled by glyphosate. More growers are using their supplies of dicamba, as well as Tavium. They are concerned about the resistance, and looking at various pre-emerge herbicides in their weed control programs. We need more chemistries because resistant pigweed just gets worse.

    “We’re looking at temperatures 4 to 5 degrees above normal this week and will be watching for heat stress. Heat stress impacts plants worse during peak bloom. Most of the crop in central Arizona is going into first flower, so heat shouldn’t be as much of an issue. The Yuma area cotton is on the backside of peak bloom, but we will watch it closely. Eastern Arizona is just into blooming.

    “There are few insect problems after the earlier issues with false chinch bugs. Lygus and other mid-season pests are quiet. Diseases aren’t yet a problem, but we expect potential rust issues when the monsoon season hits next month. We have not documented Fusarium FOV-4, but we’re monitoring for it.”


    Danielle Sekula Ortiz, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Lower Rio Grande Valley:

    “Verde plant bugs remain a problem along the coast. Numbers range from 5-to-10, to 20-to-25 per 100 sweeps. Those higher numbers definitely need spraying. They are calming down, but since sorghum harvest is in full swing, we expect a verde migration from sorghum into cotton. Hopefully, the majority of cotton will have hard enough bolls not to be affected.

    “Whitefly numbers are increasing. They’re always a problem along the Rio Grande River, and we’re seeing more whiteflies in the mid-valley than normal. They will be more of an issue as bolls start to open and we receive more rain.

    “Unlike areas further north, bollworm Bt resistance is not a big issue here. If growers have heavy pressure they should call me, but not if they find one or two. That’s no big deal.

    “Sorghum is 70 to 75% harvested. There were sugarcane aphids a couple of weeks ago, and guys were advised to spray and prevent problems when combining.

    “The nation’s first bale of cotton came from the valley. It was from close friends of my family, Mike and Elizabeth England of Mercedes. Congratulations to them.”


    Haley Kennedy, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Runnels & Tom Green Counties:

    “We just finished planting the dryland, while irrigated fields are advanced in growth. We’re everywhere from just emerging to match-head square.

    “Insects, have been pretty quiet. There are a handful of fleahoppers on a few squaring fields. They are moving in from weeds. A few aphids are also present, but they’re just food for beneficials. Grasshoppers are a problem for some fields after all of the hot, dry weather.

    “Guys started off clean and weed control remained strong. The issue now is whether to spray herbicide that needs rain to get soil incorporated. Many growers had dicamba purchased ahead of time, so that isn’t a major worry.”

    AgFax News Links

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    Weekly Cotton Market Review – USDA   6-19

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    Texas Upper Coast Cotton: Bollworms and Stink Bugs 6-22

    Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Moves Ahead, Hindered by Weekend Rains 6-22

    Oklahoma Wheat: Late Season Diseases of Note 6-19

    Texas LRGV Cotton: 1st Bale of the Season Harvested 6-19

    Texas: Researcher Leading to Better Corn Yields on Less Land 6-18

    Texas High Plains Cotton: Slow Crop Development, Weeds an Issue – Podcast 6-18

    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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