Cotton – Southwest – Bolls Popping, Young Plants Coming On – AgFax

    Irrigated cotton field. Photo: Larry Stalcup, AgFax Media

    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.


    Cotton maturity ranges from bolls popping around Corpus Christi to new germination in southern Kansas. More rain is needed west of I-35 and northward.

    Bollworms are in the Blacklands, where crop advisors expect a big moth flight to explode July 4th weekend.

    Verde plant bugs are hitting fields in the Upper Gulf Coast, where growers are watching for whiteflies and lygus.

    Fleahopper treatments are going out over much of our coverage area.



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

    “It’s raining blowing dust today, which is common down here. But the cotton is performing well in this area and up into southeastern New Mexico. Both the Upland and Pima look good. Many fields are into first bloom. Growing conditions are prime with plenty of irrigation and temperatures in the 100s.

    “Thanks to a full allotment of irrigation water from the Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico, our farmers will be able to water all or most of the season. Guys applied their second irrigation about mid-June and will water again in 21-day intervals. If they can still irrigate into September, they should see an excellent crop.

    “We expect to see lygus bugs. Many farmers spray for them before the problem arises. There are no other insect issues thus far.

    “Our growers are fortunate that Roundup Ready cotton still handles weed situations, especially morning glory.”


    Scott Meeks, Yield Pro Crop Consulting, Farwell, Texas:

    “I check cotton from near Nara Visa in northeastern New Mexico to Darrouzett in the northeastern Texas Panhandle. The most mature fields will likely see first bloom later this week.

    “We’re fixing to be watering at full-throttle after finishing round one of applying PGRs and initial fleahopper treatments. The second round of PGR and insect treatments begins shortly. Weed control is nearly wrapped up, and things are clean. There are a few weed escapes but nothing that a little hoeing can’t handle.

    “Most of my acres are pushed to full production, with growers shooting for big yields. They designate the majority of their irrigation for cotton. It used to be 90% corn. Now it’s about 85% cotton, which has made a world of difference in cotton production. It’s nearly all center pivot with a little subsurface drip. I’m happy that most of my customer base grows cotton as a primary crop instead of treating it like a stepchild to corn.”


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

    “We’re ready for the sun to come out. It has been unusually cloudy for a week or better, which has caused fruit shed in places.

    “The cloudy weather is also favorable to bollworm larva. There was a large moth flight further south, and we’re seeing a few bollworm egg masses. Also, scouting is still going on for fleahoppers and stink bugs.

    “Herbicide treatments are going out on a few weed and grass flushes after recent rains.

    “I haven’t heard of any disease situations in the Blacklands area. Bacterial blight was spotted a few weeks ago in Upper Gulf Coast variety trials. But it was an isolated incident. Farmers are benefiting from disease resistant varieties.”


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

    “Dryland acres are few and far between. The hot, dry, windy conditions were just too much for many fields. Irrigated acres have also suffered from dry weather and spotty hail. But overall, we’re not in bad shape.

    “Replants look good and hopefully can tolerate further hailstorms. Nearly all cotton is late. Growth stages range from wildcat cotton that’s at cotyledon, to match-head squares.

    “Guys are realistic with how much water they can apply. They have to decide whether to irrigate a full circle of cotton, or a half-circle of corn, which requires more water.

    “Thrip threats are growing smaller except for the late planted fields. There are a few fleahoppers, but nothing at threshold. Growers still need to scout for fleahoppers because this area can expect threshold numbers from 5 to 35% of the acres. We need to catch those fields early to help prevent boll loss.

    “Fall armyworms are showing up in corn, but most insects are quiet. Stink bugs are also in the area, but they are mozna obtuse stink bugs that normally don’t damage field crops. They’re moving in from mesquite and could threaten pecan trees or other fruit trees. Alfalfa weevil infestations are in the alfalfa fields. Many guys will soon spray for the third time.”


    Stephen Biles, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Victoria, Calhoun & Refugio Counties:

    “Stink bugs have not shown up, but we expect them to require attention in all crops. Otherwise, we’re not finding many insects that need treatment. That could change quickly.

    “Guys who had a proper herbicide program have been successful in controlling weeds, but they need to keep monitoring those fields.

    “We’re drying down from last week’s rain, which will allow us to get into the field with sprayers if needed.

    “Cotton looks good and ranges from 2 NAWF to 8 or 9 NAWF. We anticipate many fields will be ready for harvest in early August. The recent rain caused a little fruit to shed, but nothing out of the ordinary. Right now, we’re looking at an average to above-average crop in this part of the Upper Coast.

    “Sorghum harvest is resuming after the rain. Corn harvest is just beginning. There are a few soybeans this year that are looking good.”


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

    “I hope they’re wrong, but weather forecasters say we’ll hit 103 early this week. But cotton shouldn’t be hurt because we received substantial rain last week.

    “Moisture received about June 19 germinated much late-planted seed. Since it’s so late, a few growers are pondering whether to keep it or replant something else. But for the most part, the crop is progressing well after the widest planting window I can remember. Some cotton was planted in late April, and other fields didn’t get planted until the first week of June. We’re everywhere from cotyledon up to more than 12 nodes and 8 squares. That’s an incredible spread.


    “The late cotton is still being treated for thrips. I’ve seen several fields with gnarled up leaves that were most likely not treated. Many growers are applying acephate to handle thrips, fleahoppers and other bugs. With the heat and wind, I recommend a pyrethroid application. It doesn’t smell as bad to your neighbors. Acephate works but could lead to aphids later on if growers have to treat more than once.

    “Cotton is taking off, and weeds are also growing. A lot of Liberty is going out on small pigweed plants. With so much cotton just getting started, growers need to keep growth under control with PGRs and guard against insects. Sound management will be needed to maintain as much fruit as possible.”


    Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill County: “We’re gearing up for a bollworm flight, which is common around the 4th of July. The full moon Sunday (7/5) may enhance it. There are places along the Brazos River Bottom that already have bollworm activity. Hopefully, Bt varieties will hold up.

    “Spider mites will likely move into cotton from corn silage and field corn. Guys need to watch for them and may need treatments in hot spots. Stink bugs are not a problem so far, but as we get into peak bloom and toward cutout, we will probably see more of them.

    “This part of the Blacklands is seeing a few weed flushes from morning glory, johnsongrass and a little pigweed. We will treat them when the wind dies down. The downside is we’re more than 60 days past planting, which is the cutoff times for dicamba and 2, 4-d. Residual herbicides applied in the first round of spraying a month ago have held up well.

    “Corn looks good but needs another rain or two to finish. Harvest should start in about 2 weeks, weather conditions permitting. There were a few incidents of northern corn leaf blight, but not enough to require treatments. With the rains, we’re also watching for southern rust.”


    Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas: “It’s cloudy and we’re seeing Saharan dust on the Upper Coast. We need more sun after excessive rain in recent weeks. We’ve had fruit shed, but the crop is still above average and should be fine.

    “Most cotton has cutout at 1 to 5 NAWF. The irrigated looks fantastic, but we’re not out of the woods with insects. Treatments are going out for lygus, and we’re seeing verde plant bug on coastal fields. We’re watching for whiteflies, which are in more lush cotton fields along creeks. We sprayed for stink bugs in front of the rain and continue to see good control. Growers are also seeing spider mites.

    “Corn looks spectacular, after southern rust and northern blight diseases required spraying. Despite the good crop, corn prices are terrible. Guys have no place for it to go.

    “Good milo yields are expected. However, there was a blow-up of sugarcane aphids. If guys don’t spray, they will face gummed up combines at harvest.

    “The overall year has been crazy. Even though we expect strong yields on cotton and other crops, we’re not counting chickens until after we eat them.”


    Jamie Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County: “Careless weed resistance to Roundup is growing and getting worse every year. We saw it on peanuts 4 or 5 years ago, and growers are running out of options. Guys will have to try different herbicide combinations to control it. There isn’t much dicamba used in this part of south Texas, and I haven’t had one call with concerns about it following the recent court ruling.


    “The majority of the cotton is at bloom stage and looks good. The earliest fields are setting bolls. Growers have been scouting for bollworms, which typically invade cotton in late June. Fields remain clean of insect issues so far.

    “Peanuts also look good. The early stuff is flowering, while late-planted fields are just emerging. Wet weather slowed down planting.”


    Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “The dry, windy weather continues to punish this area’s cotton. As a wild guess, I would say at least 80% of the dryland production is gone. Insurance adjusters have been checking fields. Farmers with failed acres may come back with wildcat cotton in areas that received some decent rain around June 25.

    “The irrigated cotton has also suffered from either the lack of rain, wind and/or hail damage. I saw a field of 6- to 7-leaf late last week that looked pretty good, but most of the area needs more rainfall to help make a good crop.

    “Guys need to remain fixed on keeping squares by managing fleahoppers. If fields have sufficient irrigation and growers want to push the crop, they may need to apply PGRs at 7 to 8 nodes. Apply 6 to 8 ounces, then check fields a week to 10 days later to measure plant growth. Then come back with more if needed.”


    Alan Seitz, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wilcox, Arizona: “Drip irrigated cotton is starting to bloom. Everything else should start blooming next week. We’re spraying for lygus and fleahoppers and making PGR applications. Mite treatments are also going out.

    “Growers are dealing with flushes of morning glory, as well as bindweed and spurred anoda. The crop is growing off nicely. There are spotty showers, and the monsoon season is beginning. We expect to see more rain by the 4th of July. There are no southwest cotton rust spores but with the rain, we’ll be scouting more.

    “Corn looks good, but a few fields have burned edges caused by the 35-mph winds and the hot weather. We’re also spraying corn for mites.

    “Farmers are concerned about future weed control and expect to use cultivators more if we lose dicamba and the 2, 4-d technology follows suit. Expect to see more iron used for weed control in the future.”


    Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi: “Cotton has mostly cutout. We saw our first open boll at the Corpus AgriLife station late last week. A fair number of bolls are likely popping open across the Coastal Bend. The region picked up another 1.25” of rain on Friday (6/24). We may get a bump from it.

    “There is a good boll load, although there is a mid-plant gap in areas that had fruit shed during heavy rains in May. We’re on track to defoliate about the third week of July through early August.

    “There are a few weed flushes to end the season, but I haven’t received any calls for late-season bug issues. As it looks now, the Coastal Bend will see 3-bale cotton and likely approach 4 bales in fields.” 


    Joe Renfro, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Southwestern Oklahoma: “This old cotton has been growing, but it needs water. There are 3 to 4 squares on everything. Plants are at 10-leaf or higher.

    “Growers made their first sprays for fleahoppers recently and will need one more round within the next week. We expect to see more bugs later. Growers are treating alfalfa fields for grasshoppers. We need a rain to break their cycle.

    “We’ve had more weeds this year, with the recent showers. But growers are keeping them under control with good herbicide programs.

    “The milo looks good where we have water, and corn chopped for dairies looked good.” 

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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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