Rain on the Plains. Irrigation got a reprieve as rain finally fell over much of the Texas Panhandle. Temperatures mercifully moved down into the low 90s. South Plains fields weren’t so fortunate, as dry weather continues.
Storm clouds brewing. Growers are sweating out the threat of damage to a promising crop. Forecasters predict a tropical storm may move into coastal areas over the weekend.
DeWayne Dopslauf, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wharton, Texas:
“We’re watching the weather and hoping for the best. A tropical storm is over Cuba this morning (7/21) and is forecast to move into the Gulf by the weekend. Everyone is nervous. Barring the tropical storm, the cotton I watch appears better than average. The more mature fields are 10 days early, and we plan to start defoliating next week. My younger fields are still 3 weeks out.
“Corn harvest is still going on and the crop looks good. Many of my growers switched from cotton to corn due to economics. Guys with a picker stayed with cotton.
“Milo yields also look good and we escaped major sugarcane aphid problems at harvest.
“Rice harvest just started around El Campo. Toward the gulf, rice fields toward the Gulf are another 10 days to 2 weeks away from harvest. Like other growers, rice guys were a little grumpy this morning at the coffee shop. The weather has them worried.”
John David Gonzales, Director of Agronomy, Parmer County Cotton Growers, Inc.:
“The crop looks good and ranges from 4 NAWF for fields with limited irrigation and up to 8 NAWF for later maturing cotton. I’m impressed with square retention after all of the hot weather we’ve seen.
“Recent rainfall has also helped. We received from 0.6 to 1.5 inches last night (7/19) – a good shower across the board. Rain helped relieve irrigation wells that have been pressed by the 100-degree temperatures this month. Lack of moisture and guys putting down residuals with post applications has kept weed management strong. But we’ll be watching for flushes after last night’s rain.
“Lygus are showing up in fields, but not thick. Fleahoppers still needed a few treatments in the past 2 weeks, but we’re reaching the point where they will no longer threaten most fields. There are also a few stink bugs. Growers should scout for them to prevent fruit loss as we start getting boll formation and lint quality.
“I discovered 2 fields with what appears to be verticillium wilt. We sent samples for testing to make sure it’s not fusarium or nematodes.
“With late rains, we’re staying on top of PGRs to make timely applications. Growers won’t complain if they can receive more rain this month and in August.”
“The Panhandle finally received a good rain, and temperatures have cooled down. Producers saw an improvement in crops from this week compared to last. Most areas received from 0.5” to 2” and a few places in the northeast Panhandle had over 4 inches.
“The rain came at the perfect time for cotton blooming north of Amarillo. It was significant for plant water demands that limited irrigation couldn’t have provided. After the rain, producers are examining the use of PGRs to stay ahead of excessive growth.
“Of course, the downside of rain is weeds. Many fields that were not planted due to the drought appeared clean when it was hot and dry. Now they are weedy. For fields to be planted in wheat, farmers need to get in and apply a burndown rather than plowing and losing moisture.
“Corn is variable across the Panhandle. It nearly burned up southwest of Amarillo. Many farmers have already laid down corn and are swathing to pick it up. Fields are going to silage earlier than anticipated. The rain was too late for many. However, in northern counties, corn is just tasseling and the rain was very timely.”
“We missed the boat. While there were nice rains further north into the Panhandle, we’re still bone dry. That storm pushed all the way through to Levelland and then died off. Despite that, the irrigated looks pretty good, although it is still 2 weeks behind. It just started blooming late last week. Since it’s late, I hope we don’t get an early freeze. The dryland is still suffering if it made it this far.
“Bug issues are minimal. However, fields are still squaring, so guys need to scout for fleahoppers. With the long dry spell, I’m not concerned about PGRs. If growers are concerned about excessive growth, the best thing they can do is make sure they promote good fruit retention. That, in itself, will hold down vegetative growth. We’re getting to the point where we have what we have. We’ll just wait and see what happens.”
Tom Studnicka, Studnicka Consulting, Belle Plaine, Kansas:
“Cotton has perked up after south-central Kansas received good rain the last 10 days. Early planted fields that came up uniformly are blooming – and the fruit load looks heavy. It looks as good as ever this time of the year.
“A few early fields didn’t come up until it rained and they have struggled. It’s a chore to keep up with PGRs with the staggered growth. Second and 3rd rounds of PGRs are going out in some areas. Late growth fields may require a perfect late summer and fall to make good yield and quality.
“Guys were doing well on weeds until the rains came. Between the rain and winds, some of them got behind on managing weed pressure. But they’re getting caught up.
“There are a few issues with plant bugs, along with fleahoppers on late cotton. But overall, I wouldn’t call insect pressure bad.
“Rain helped save dryland corn, but not until after it had lost a lot of yield potential. Soybeans are still early enough to be okay on yields.”
Ben McKnight, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, College Station:
“It’s still a little dry, so irrigation engines have been busy. But we’re seeing a good shot for rain in the next few days. It would be welcomed, especially in dryland fields.
“Growth stages are probably average, about 6 to 7 NAWF for irrigated, while the dryland is close to cutout after our dry weather. Weed control looks good in the Brazos Bottom. Growers have been on top of weeds nearly all year. Guys got flushes taken care of quickly after the last rain. There’s also good canopy closure.
“A few stink bugs were showing up last week, so guys need to watch for them. I’m not hearing of any diseases. Further south, however, a little bacterial blight is appearing on susceptible varieties.”
Mark Hatley, Crop Quest Consulting, Dumas, Texas:
“Much of the northern Panhandle received good rain last night (7/20). About 1.5” fell in the Dumas area, with heavier rain farther north. Irrigated looks really good if it made it through the bad hail and wind in late June and earlier this month. It’s at early to mid-bloom.
“So far, insects are quiet, with no major outbreaks. There are a few hot spots of weeds that usually give us fits. However, if growers had timely preplant and preemerge herbicide applications, they’re in good shape.
“With questions surrounding dicamba and other herbicide issues, I think there will be more iron in our future, especially preplant cultivation before planters. We need better weed control at the start because it’s costing a lot of money now.
“Much of the corn is still pollinating so the rain really helped it. But corn planted behind failed cotton is only knee high.”
Haley Kennedy, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Runnels, Tom Green & Concho Counties:
“Not much is going on with insects in the Concho Valley. The hot, dry weather has held back pests. Fleahoppers are building and showing up in a few more fields, but numbers are well below threshold.
“Aphids are popping up, but beneficials are taking care of them. There’s not much stink bug activity in blooming cotton. No bollworms are causing problems, but there are a few bollworm eggs to watch.
“I’m walking through a beautiful, irrigated field right now that’s one week into bloom. Some dryland is starting to bloom, but most is poor and needs rain in the next few weeks.”
David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Professor and Statewide IPM Coordinator, College Station:
“Bollworm numbers have tailed off in this part of the Blacklands. We’re just picking up small flights. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get heavy numbers in localized areas. This is when Bt varieties begin to break down. We need to watch for them because a whole mess can show up in fields.
“Stink bugs have been common, mostly the green. Many guys have already treated for them. Spider mite populations are not high, but if it stays hot and dry, we will see more.
“I’m picking up velvet bean caterpillar in soybeans, but nothing worth spraying. Red banded stink bugs are also infesting soybeans. They’re attracted to older beans in the R-4 to R-5 range. The more beans mature, the more common they are.
“In the last 2 weeks, we had a big sugarcane aphid outbreak in milo and some fields were sprayed. Corn harvest is heavy across the area. Early yield reports are good.”
Randy Boman, Windstar Cotton Agronomics Manager, Edmonson, Texas:
“I’ve been monitoring our plots in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and parts of the South Plains in the last 2 days. Overall, fruit retention is good, and fields with better management are at 8 to 10 NAWF.
“Rain is needed in southwestern Oklahoma. But the crop is still in fair shape, even though it has been hot and dry. We need a drink on much of the dryland, and irrigation just needs to keep rolling.
“Variety trials look spectacular around Pampa. Most are 10 NAWF, even after the 100-degree-plus temperatures. Down toward Tulia, they received a little rain here and there. But it’s not a good situation if irrigated water is limited. West of Plainview, the trial is only 6 to 7 NAWF after the dry weather. Thankfully, everything is finally beginning to bloom.
“I can’t get over how hot it got last week. It was 115 when I crossed the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River. Even with irrigation or rain, it will be hard for fields to recover from that.”
Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill County:
“Things are quiet. There is a little stink bug damage, which we need to keep an eye on. But overall, nothing is approaching threshold.
“Cotton ranges from 2 NAWF to 6.5 in later fields. The fruit load is good and should produce a decent crop. Weed control remains strong, other than a few field edges that were buffer zones for auxin herbicide applications.
“Disease reports are also scarce. I did see boll rot on one boll today, but nothing else. However, that’s something guys further north should watch for down the road. Southern rust has emerged in late-planted corn, but it’s far enough along not to be a problem.
“Overall, cotton is better than it was last year after we received mid-season rains.”
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.
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