“Cotton is moving right along with this warm weather and scattered showers. Today (8/17), irrigated fields planted in late May are at about 2 to 4 NAWF. Since last week, many irrigated and dryland fields are blooming out the top, which indicates how dry the region remains.
“Fields in peak bloom are also at peak water use – using about 0.3” per day, or about 2” a week. Cooler weather is forecast from now on, but we need to be watching water needs for later planted fields.
“This is an important time. Folks need to keep an eye out for insects to help protect positions on the plant.”
Alan Seitz, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wilcox, Arizona:
“Even though it’s typically cooler in eastern Arizona, the weather has been hot for us. Temperatures have hit the upper 90s with many days over 100 degrees. Many growers pump more abundant irrigation water to corn instead of cotton. In those cases, cotton is at cutout and blooming out the top. Rain has been spotty at best.
“We’ve treated a few fields for rust. Bindweed, pigweed escapes, morning glory and spurred anoda still need treatments. We’re fighting lygus in fields around alfalfa, but they are no longer a problem for mature bolls. Thankfully, stink bugs have remained low.
“Lack of moisture is holding back yields for some growers. However, most fields appear average and slightly above.”
Randy Boman, Windstar Cotton Agronomics Manager, Edmonson, Texas:
“I’m southwest of Plainview this morning (8/18). Most fields are looking good, although everyone could use a drink. Plants are running 5 NAWF.
“There are opportunities to make good yields. A good sign is NAWF has remained horizontal for 2 to 3 weeks. If you graph NAWF by the week, they typically start at, say, 7 to 10, and then gradually decrease in time due to water deficiency. But we’ve stayed above 5 to 6 NAWF, which means fields have had sufficient rain or irrigation to keep plants growing.
“Fruit retention is good and bolls are big. Since it is August 18, we’re reaching the point where blooms formed later are less likely to make a fluffy boll. The good news is we’re close to blooming out the top, which means we’re right on schedule. A good rain would help finish it out even more.”
Gary Beverage, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Artesia, New Mexico/Southwest Texas:
“This heat has been pushing much of our cotton to cutout for the past month. We’re going to quit fighting and let it finish. Yields should be promising, despite the dry, hot weather. The boll load looks great with a good chance yields will average more than 3 bales.
“Insects remained light most of the summer. We didn’t have stink bug issues. Growers managed weeds well all season. There were a few battles with Russian thistle. But, overall, guys made timely herbicide applications and kept weeds in check. Southwestern cotton rust is apparent in a few fields, but there’s nothing that is a big threat.
“Other crops are doing well. Alfalfa is producing good tonnage, and chili peppers have loaded up.”
Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill County:
“We intended to apply harvest aids today (8/17), but up to 1.5” of rain fell last night holding most growers back.
“I know 2 or 3 people that got fields sprayed late last week. We’re still a week or so out from widespread defoliation. Cotton looks good. It’s an average to slightly above-average crop, depending on the planting date.
“We saw a few aphids and whiteflies last week. None were at threshold, but guys still need to keep an eye on them to avoid sticky cotton issues.
“Corn harvest is finishing up. Yields are average to just above average. There are no yield reports on milo, but it looks like a decent crop. Guys need to watch for late sugarcane aphid infestations to avoid harvest issues.”
Tom Studnicka, Studnicka Consulting, Belle Plaine, Kansas:
“We have a chance for an excellent crop. Early cotton is 2 to 4 NAWF and on track to cutout on time. Fruit loads look fantastic. However, the later stuff is just now starting to bloom. It has a good square load, but growers will need a perfect fall to harvest a good crop.
“Weeds are mostly under control with good management. Insects are light, with a few stink bug issues. There are also a few bollworms, but nothing has been treated in susceptible Bollgard 2 fields.
“Corn is waiting to dry down for harvest. It’s only a fair to average crop. Beans still have strong potential. We’re finishing up field sprays for podworms. Several areas could still use a little rain to ease stress on beans and a few cotton fields.”
Chris Locke, CSL Consulting Inc., Sudan, Texas/Eastern New Mexico:
“I’m on the King Ranch near Corpus today (8/18). I’m helping with seed production analysis, and there’s a world of difference in cotton down here and fields in our part of the South Plains. This Coastal Bend crop is pushing 4 bales per acre. I counted 40 pickers that drove by this morning.
“But in my area back home, nearly all cotton is at hard cutout, and most irrigated yields will be under 2 bales. It was too dry all growing season. I didn’t hear of many problems with wells pumping off. Many guys just quit because they had no rain to back up irrigation.
“There are no big insect problems in cotton, but spider mite pressure has been heavy in corn. We treated early with Comite and late with Zeal miticide. Some of the later corn looks good, but the early corn will see lower yields.”
Mark Hatley, Crop Quest Consulting, Dumas, Texas:
“The northern Panhandle has cooled off into the low 90s after hitting 100s last week, which helps the cotton finish up well. Barring any hailstorms, it should be a good crop and well above average, thanks to timely rain. Irrigation water availability has held up and we’re close to shutting down for the season.
“A few weed flushes caused problems and hoe crews were needed. Insect pressure is light, other than a few bollworms that needed spraying.
“Corn is seeing isolated fields with southern rust that needs spraying. Continuous corn is showing a little gray leaf spot, but more mature corn is safe from injury.
“Milo for seed production is filling out well. There are a few sugarcane aphid hot spots, but it’s not yet a major concern.”
Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas:
“We just started defoliation and haven’t picked anything. Leaves are coming off well, and we’re a little ahead of schedule. I expect half of the cotton I watch will be defoliated next week.
“Whiteflies are still an issue in a few fields. I’ve treated about 10% of my cotton acres. Most are for farmers who want to keep whiteflies out of their peanuts. Other than that, there are no insect problems to speak of.
“The crop looks good where irrigation is possible. This was a dry summer and some growers got behind in watering. Yields look promising. Many fields could see 4 to 4.5 bales, but I don’t see any 5-bale cotton out there. The 4-bale yields sound high, but with low prices and high input costs, if guys don’t make 4 bales – they are behind the 8-ball.”
Jerry Goodson, Oklahoma State University Extension assistant, Altus:
“A second round of spraying for bollworms in Bt-2 cotton is finishing up. However, we don’t anticipate more big infestations. We’re also spraying for a few stink bugs, but protecting our beneficials, because they help keep cotton aphids in check.
“The high heat in recent weeks is rapidly bringing the crop to an end. A few pockets are still lush, but 75 to 85% is likely near cutout. Fields range from fantastic, to good, to poor. The irrigated is performing well, and a few dryland fields are holding on.
“Timely rains have helped, but the extreme heat in the 100s last week slowed plants down. We still expect an average or better crop. It’s early, so we should see good quality because it will beat the late fall rains.”
Ben McKnight, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, College Station:
“Growers have started defoliation further north in the Blacklands. However, our irrigated crop is a few weeks from defoliation. The dryland in the Brazos Bottom may see defoliation soon.
“I haven’t heard of any pressing insect or weed issues, but I recently passed a field in the bottom with a few waterhemp plants. Growers need to watch for a few misses here and there.”
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.
This 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.