Cotton – Southwest – Quiet. Too Hot, Dry for Insects and Weeds.

    Cotton in no-till wheat stubble near Hereford, Texas. Photo: 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.


    Thermometers are popping up to 100-plus degrees in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. And, in case you’re interested, Chuck Wilbur says 114 degrees provides about 30 “bonus” heat units daily.

    Insects are mostly too hot to move with the exception of fleahoppers here and there. No diseases reported. Again, it’s just too hot.

    On the upside, some Upper Coast cotton bolls are beginning to crack. March planted fields are a few weeks away from defoliation.



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

    “Last week I mentioned I was worried about the 100-degree weather coming through and what it would do to crops. It’s 108 to 109 this afternoon (7/14) and has been like that nearly a week. We won’t know the impact of these hot, dry conditions for the next 7 to 10 days.

    “Folks with limited irrigation water were already in rough shape. It’s now even harder to keep fields from stressing.

    “The crop is a few days to a few weeks late. We expected to see the first cotton bloom by July 4th. But much of the crop has yet to get even one.

    “If folks catch rain, they could see weed flushes. Early herbicides will start playing out soon. Growers shouldn’t just walk away from it.”


    Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma:

     “I’m in the Red River Valley near the Oklahoma line between Childress and Quanah. It’s about the hottest place you’ll find. We’re receiving bonus heat units, about 30 per day. That’s what 114-degree days will do for you.

    “However, this area has had spotty showers, including about 1 inch last week. Fields are at first bloom, and a few have set small bolls. As long as irrigation wells hold up, we’ll be all right.

    “Postemerge herbicides are holding up, and weeds are mostly under control. We had to spray earlier cotton for fleahoppers, but other insects are light. PGRs are going to help promote better fruit retention. I’m taking petiole tests to help determine where we are in this crop.

    “Peanuts are pegging hard, but the hot weather is holding them back. Unless you have a hotrod runner that pushes hard, the heat hurts their growth. Plenty of irrigation is needed.”


    Cody Noggler, Crop Quest Consulting, Northwestern Texas Panhandle:

    “Cotton is starting to bloom, and insect pressure is light. Fleahoppers have been held back, due to temperatures in the 100s and continued dry weather. We could see bollworms move out of corn, but most cotton is Bollgard 3 which helps keep them in check.

    “Weed control is sound for the most part. Most guys got dicamba applied on time along with residuals, which helped keep weed pressure down. But there are a few weeds you just can’t get without hiring hoe crews.

    “In corn, mite pressure hasn’t been as bad as expected, considering the hot and dry weather. But there are cornfields with western bean cutworm that we’re watching closely.

    “All in all, we still have pretty good soil profiles that are helping irrigated cotton. While most dryland did not make it, there are a few dryland fields that received spotty showers at the right time. Growers are glad the 30 to 40 mph winds that hit in mid-June haven’t returned.”


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

    “We’re always hot this time of the year, but we’ve had abnormally high temperatures. They’re in the high 110s in the low desert and the low teens in our eastern growing area. Most heat-related damage occurs in the peak bloom season, but the majority of the crop is ahead of that. Out west, the Yuma area is on the backside of blooming. So, the overall effect on fruit loss has yet to be determined.

    “We have a good fruit load with about 60% retention. However, weed pressure has been tough.


    “Resistant pigweed is widespread. It got away from growers. The inability to use dicamba products will be difficult. Growers who used Tavium had success, but we’re outside the 60-day post planting label. Pigweed resistance is not as bad as in other areas, but it will be within a year or two if action isn’t taken to handle it.

    “Insect pressure is minimal.”


    Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas:

    “It was 114 today (7/13). That’s good cotton growing weather if we can keep it wet. Many guys have a peanut-cotton rotation. Peanuts have just started pegging and have a long way to go. When cotton needs water, it takes a back seat to peanuts. 

    “Still, cotton looks good, and we’re seeing early planted fields start to cut out. The oldest is open and 3 weeks from defoliation. The youngest is in full bloom. On average, the crop is a little past full bloom. A few weeks ago, cloudy weather caused heavy fruit shed. But that shouldn’t hurt much. It happens naturally every year.

    “A few stink bugs are showing up, and I noticed a few whiteflies this morning. Nothing is treatable yet. Weeds are finally under control after trouble with escapes. Herbicide treatments have become our biggest input cost. About 90% of growers got their dicamba applied before the court ruled against it in early June. However, losing dicamba is going to hurt if that court decision stands.

    “Combines are running in corn today down toward Frio County. Most vegetables are out of the field. The summer sweet corn is virtually all out, and we’ve started planting the fall crop. I’ve already planted one block of cabbage.”


    Ben Crumley, Crumley Agricultural Consulting, El Campo, Texas:

    “Cotton is in the home stretch and progressing well. We’re looking at cracked bolls. Fields planted in March are finished, and waiting on defoliation in 3 weeks or so. Boll counts are average. Dryland is looking at 2 to 2.5 bales. For the irrigated, it’s definitely in the 2.5 to 3-bale range.

    “We recently had a late push of stink bugs coming from the corn drying down and the harvested milo fields. We made a few recommendations for one last spray to cap it off. We may also recommend that growers treat soybeans for late stink bug pressure. 

    “There’s a little sugarcane aphid pressure in sorghum. Many farmers who applied Roundup to desiccate milo added a shot of Transform to handle the aphids.

    “Overall, we’re happy with how the cotton and other crops are turning out, but we won’t know for sure until everything is out of the field.”


    Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan, Kansas:

    “Cotton has been limping along. Farmers received rain Friday (7/10) and Sunday in central Kansas. It was a good soaking, and the dryland really needed it. Our research trial planted near Radium on May 20 will be flowering later this week. Overall, the crop is mostly fair rather than good. Rain should put more of it into the good category. Cotton is squaring and setting bolls earlier than usual.

    “Weed control still varies. Guys panicked in the dicamba growing areas in June. But weeds aren’t as bad as I thought. Fields look pretty clean. Growers who used a cover crop have an advantage over weeds.

    “A few fleahopper treatments are being tank-mixed with PGR applications. We were fortunate that there weren’t as many thrips after the state’s reduction in wheat acres.

    “With large corn and soybean crops, we expect added bollworm pressure late in the season. If it’s too late in the fall, the Bt trait doesn’t hold that long.”


    Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan & Upton Counties:

    “The crop is nothing spectacular due to hot, dry weather. The irrigated is hanging on, and its yield potential is down considerably. Irrigated that’s blooming and has good water is at 7 to 8 NAWF. Fields with less water have already cut out at 3 to 5 NAWF. Later planted fields won’t bloom for a month.

    “The dryland we kept is just setting there and not growing. If it doesn’t rain, it will probably put on one bloom at the top and finish. Dry weather will kick squares off.


    “I saw a little stink bug damage to bolls yesterday (7/13). They are also in sorghum. Aside from that, there’s not much going on.

    “A few weeds are coming up. Guys are doing their best to keep fields clean and not allow weeds to produce seed that can cause problems next year.” 


    Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock:

    “Insects are quiet for the most part. There are only scattered reports of fleahoppers, and a few farmers have sprayed. We’re seeing early blooms so fields are pretty much safe from fleahoppers. There are a good numbers of lady beetles and minute pirate bugs. They are beneficial insects, and we need to protect them and not apply unnecessary insecticides.

    “Don’t confuse square loss from fleahoppers with loss due to high temperatures. Today we’re hitting 109 to 110 (7/14) and it will cause square loss.

    “Growers need to watch for bollworms as we see more blooms. For now, my moth trap numbers are low.”


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

    “My cotton trials are about thigh high and doing well. They were planted the third week of April. There is solid boll formation, and plants are still blooming.

    “The heat is our biggest issue. It has been a long string of days in the 100s, which are forecast to be around until next week. But as long as irrigation water holds up, the crop should prosper in the heat.

    “Weed problems are mostly gone, and insect pressure has been light. There are no reports of diseases.”


    Todd Baughman, Oklahoma State University Institute for Agricultural Biosciences, Research Professor, Ardmore:

    “The majority of cotton is still running behind. The crop just never took off. A few patches looked better in the past week or two. We should have seen the first blooms by July 4th, and most fields haven’t bloomed yet.

    “There is a positive. We received a good rain 2 weeks ago, and it helped dryland fields, which got a good stand. I’m concerned about the irrigated. Every day you’re behind does not translate to maximizing yields.

    “There have been isolated issues with grasshoppers and a little aphid pressure, but nothing serious. Since we’re just now getting into bloom, insect pressure could pick up. Guys need to scout for them.

    “Weed flushes after the rain have needed treatments. As a rule, preemerge herbicides haven’t held up as well as would have been expected.”


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

    “There was an increase in fleahopper activity last week. We treated 2 out of 10 fields. So even though the crop is relatively young and not flowering, producers should not overlook fleahoppers.

    “It’s 108 today (7/14). Generally, the heat is suppressing most insect pests, but we still need to scout. With many abandoned fields, insects are migrating into islands of green, irrigated fields. We’ve seen a few lygus and stink bugs, but nothing alarming. Growers still need to keep an eye on them.

    “Irrigation is a priority. With wind and heat, it’s tough to stay ahead of moisture demands. Hopefully, the weather pattern will break if growers can stay with it another week or so.

    If possible, change from sprinkler to a bubbler mode or drag hoses to get water to ground more efficiently. Water as much as you can. Try to make the circle in a reasonable amount of time of 5 to 6 days and apply 1″ or more. If it takes more days, speed it up. Anything more than 6 days means fruit is not getting enough water to prevent stress.

    “It’s a tough crop report when it’s 108. But we need to manage the heat and our resources carefully.”

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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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