Cotton – Midsouth – Waiting For Defoliation, Waiting For The Hurricane – AgFax

    Mature cotton bolls in early morning light. ©Debra L Ferguson

    Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by the Midsouth Cotton Team of Amvac Chemical Corporation.


    Cotton has pretty much wound down through much of the region. Scattered insect treatments continue in late-planted fields, but the bulk of the crop is past the point that pests matter.

    More bolls are opening in the central Delta.

    Defoliation in most areas will start later than usual this year.

    Corn harvest has all but wrapped up in parts of the lower Midsouth, and combines are running in soybeans in a few areas.

    Hurricane Laura moved ashore near Lake Charles, Louisiana, as we closed out this issue early Thursday morning. How much it will affect Midsouth crops is an open question. As much as they could this week, farmers were cutting rice and corn.


    LAST 2020 ISSUE

    This issue wraps up our 18-week publishing season for 2020 – and the 26th year that these reports have been available to ag folks in the Midsouth.

    Our thanks to:

    The crop advisors and Extension personnel who take time to provide the field-level reports that go into each issue. We are grateful to them for their patience, insight and willingness to share information with the broader community.

    The Midsouth Cotton Team of Amvac Chemical Corporation for once again sponsoring the reports you’ve received each week. In these uncertain times, Amvac’s participation has been a bright point of encouragement for our staff. The next time you see someone from Amvac, be sure to thank him or her for making this coverage possible.



    Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Mississippi

    “We’ve terminated probably 90% of our cotton. The other 10% was either replanted or was late-planted or for whatever reason it didn’t grow well but it’s still trying to make cotton. Overall, I think we are just a little ahead of schedule compared to normal. The biggest factor that put us ahead this year was holding onto bolds. We were really efficient with boll retention early on, and that put us at cutout a little earlier.

    “I’m not treating a whole lot right now. Where we’ve made applications, it mostly has been in irrigating acres. I had to spray for some late plant bugs where they were trying to move into those top bolls, and we ran those out of there.

    “We haven’t seen any bollworm pressure for a while, and we don’t really have mite problems.

    “In soybeans, we had to treat a good many acres for loopers about 10 or 12 days ago (from 8/25). I haven’t really sprayed anything since then, and I’ve treated hardly any beans for bollworms. However, redbanded stinkbugs are beginning to show up in a good many acres, and we’re trying to knock those out.

    “The corn is done. We’ve terminated all irrigation and basically terminated everything else. We’re waiting on it to dry down enough to put a combine in those fields.”


    Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana

    “We’ve sprayed a few plant bugs, but I think cotton has mostly cut out pretty well. A lot of fields are opening up in Louisiana now. At this point, I don’t see enough green areas left in fields to worry about checking for worms. However, we’ll do one more worm check right before the rain tomorrow (8/25).

    “Where I work in Arkansas, some of that cotton is 2 to 3 weeks later than my cotton in Louisiana, and I’ll give it a good going over tomorrow, too.

    “In my Louisiana cotton fields, 80% to 90% have at least one open boll somewhere. We’re just a little off track in terms of crop development, but not as much as I expected earlier. With the heat, cotton sort of evened itself out. I hesitate to say what’s normal now. Last year, we planted cotton a little late, so this crop is at about the same point compared to 2019. But in previous years, we were 7 to 10 days ahead of where we are this week.

    “In soybeans, we applied a desiccant ahead of the expected hurricane (Laura) on earlier beans, but we’re also spraying for stink bugs in places. A pretty wicked worm complex developed last week in several fields – a combination of loopers, bollworms and velvetbean caterpillars. We treated 8% to 10% of the crop for that.

    “So far, we’ve sprayed 70% of our beans for redbanded stinkbugs. Pretty much all those soybeans were right at threshold, so it wasn’t anything too bad. Our stinkbug population kind of shifted, and we’re finding plenty of green stinkbugs, which we haven’t had in a while.

    “Farmers are harvesting corn as fast as they can. Every acre of corn I consultant on could be cut right now, in fact, but nobody has enough machines to do it. My Arkansas farmers started into their corn this week, but some have shifted their focus to irrigating beans.”


    Bob Griffin, Griffin Ag Consulting, Jonesboro, Arkansas  

    “We’re almost done with cotton. Right now, we’re treating very lightly for plant bugs in just a few fields. Once we hit 250 heat units after NAWF 5, we don’t make money spraying plant bugs, and we aim to clean them up before then. I also am treating a few fields for bollworms and eggs.  

    “Two to three weeks ago, I treated almost all of my fields for bollworms, and now we’re coming back and finding eggs again in Bollgard II cotton. I almost exclusively go with a diamide, and I know that it lasts 2 to 3 weeks, depending on pressure.

    “I am seeing worms now in a handful of fields, and I’ll have to spray those a second time. This is the first time, in fact, that I’ve ever had to make a second application in Bollgard II.  

    “This is a pretty late crop, and even my earliest cotton is about 10 days later than normal. Typically, I can defoliate a few fields by now. But as things look, it will be two weeks (from 8/24) before we can start in any of our cotton. I’m expecting that first application to go out around September 10.  

    “I don’t want to jinx anything, but this may be about the best crop we’ve ever had. Obviously, my late cotton doesn’t look as good as the early part of the crop. But across the board, this is the most bolls I’ve ever seen.  

    “I really don’t have a ton of late cotton, and the latest field was planted around May 25. We’re also working with 7 or 8 new varieties that look really good, and they’re across all the companies.


    “I haven’t treated a single field for spider mites or aphids, and we have not treated any of the 3-gene cotton, either. Yes, we’ve seen worms but haven’t had to treat them yet. But I am finding enough worms on some of this cotton to be a bit concerned about how the technology might hold up going forward.  

    “In corn, two of my farmers just started cutting, and some other people started earlier. Based on a few conversations, yields are running above 200 bu/acre.

    “My soybeans look tremendous. I’ve treated a few fields for bollworms. Those beans are mostly in R2 or R3, but some were at R4. I actually treated a few R5 fields, maybe 2 or 3 of them. We haven’t seen any redbanded stinkbugs. I have found browns and greens, and I’ve treated a few fields. They always like to come in at R5 or so, but activity seems to be less than normal right now.”


    Andy Graves, Graves Agronomy Service, Clarksdale, Mississippi

    “I’m going back through all of my cotton one more time this week, and I’ll be letting go of 50% to 60% of it. There’s no worm pressure at all. I’ve maybe seen two moths over the last few days.

    “Plant bug numbers did start increasing about 2 weeks ago. Now that cotton is finishing out, they are focusing on any greener cotton that’s still out there. Some pretty high numbers have developed in places, and we’re trying to beat them back.

    “A lot of our cotton has open bolls, and we’re waiting to see what the hurricane (Laura) does. Last year, we defoliated later because of all the wet weather. We really didn’t start until the second or third week of September, but we’ll hit some fields sooner than that this year.

    “In soybeans, we’ve had very little insect pressure this year except for a little run of bollworms in some later beans. But stinkbug numbers are quickly picking up in a number of fields, and in several places, they’ve reached threshold. We sprayed one soybean field last week for stinkbugs. I checked those beans this week and saw two or three redbanded stinkbugs in it. I was surprised to find them six days behind that treatment.

    “Normally by now, we’d be cutting beans. This is the widest range of soybeans I’ve ever seen. I have beans only at R3 and beans that we’re about to desiccate.

    “Corn harvest has just started. No word yet on yields.”


    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist

    “Our guys are pretty much at the finish line with cotton and are mainly waiting to defoliate. Cotton is opening all across the state. Other than a few of our latest fields, I think most guys have turned loose the vast majority of this cotton crop.

    “In soybeans, loopers are popping up in spots. Some are at threshold, others aren’t. In most cases, guys are finding about a third of a threshold, 10 to 12 per 25 sweeps. A lot of people are asking when they can turn loose of beans for loopers. At R6-plus, people are letting them go.

    “The big story right now is this hurricane (Laura). Some people are putting out insecticides to have protection in place ahead of the storm. The forecast says rainfall totals could run from 4 inches maybe 12-plus inches, depending on what side of the storm you’re on and where it goes.

    “Farmers are trying to get a lot done because they’re expecting to be out of the field for an extended period. They know they won’t be able to spray by air after it calms down because all the applications already will be booked solid.

    “Along with all that spraying, farmers are cutting a lot of corn and soybeans ahead of the storm. But some growers are opting not to apply a desiccant right now. They’re figuring that the leaves on the plants will help deflect some of the rainwater, and that would help maintain quality.”


    Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas

    “Last week was our last week with cotton, and we’re officially done with the crop. We’re at about 450 heat units past NAWF 5, and I suspect we’ll be defoliating cotton by the middle of next month. Compared to last year, our cotton is probably running a little earlier. All my cotton was planted in April this year, and we may have started planting a bit earlier than in 2019.

    “In our rice, I’m probably draining 25% of it right now. By the end of the week, that number will be around 50%, and by the end of next week, we will at 75%. The last 25% is late-planted rice, so it needs another couple of weeks.

    “If the weather permits, we will cut some rice on Thursday. With this incoming hurricane (Laura), I don’t think that will happen, but we do have some that would be ready.

    “Very few of my earlier rice fields were sprayed for rice stinkbugs, and up to this point, we haven’t sprayed any of the later rice that’s heading now.

    “We’re about 25% done with the beans. By this time next week, we’ll be finished with 50% of them. The rest are later-planted beans that we’ll keep an eye on for the next couple of weeks.

    “In the later planted beans that are around R4, we’re still finding worms. They’re not in every field, but several acres are still being sprayed for them.

    “None of my growers have cut any corn yet, but some corn around here has been harvested. Weather permitting, we will be in to the corn at the end of this week.”


    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist

    “We’re pretty much at the end of the season with cotton. People are still checking some of the late-planted fields, but we’re reaching the last effective boll date with much of this crop. We’re mainly finding worms in late-planted cotton and it’s a dual-gene variety. But even that is pretty much over.

    “We’re still looking at spider mites in a few areas, but that hurricane (Laura) ought to take care of them if it tracks through the central part of the state like some forecasts show. 

    “I’m starting to see open bolls around, and they’re pretty common in the earliest-planted cotton.

    “In soybeans, we talked all year about the potential insect pressure in the late-planted fields, and that’s playing out in many fields that are still at R2 to R4. Worms are bad in narrow-row and drilled beans and also in stressed dryland acres.

    “People are making tough decisions about whether to treat and what to use. They’re taking into account yield potential in fields that missed out on rain. In a lot of cases, guys applied diamides for worms 17 to 20 days ago, but loopers and bollworms are now coming into those beans. That’s a pretty common complex in late beans, plus stinkbugs are now in the mix in places. When stinkbugs are in those fields, you’ll have to go with a tank mix, which adds to treatment costs.

    “With less-than-great yield potential, people don’t want to go in with a diamide at this point for bollworms because of the cost. Applying a pyrethroid-acephate tank mix will knock back what they’re finding, but the odds are that bollworms will re-infest fields. Plus, loopers are coming, too.

    “I’m hearing about cases where people went with the tank mix but now worms are heavier now than before they treated. So, the farmer will have to make two applications, which would be about the same cost as making that diamide treatment earlier.

    “Loopers have pretty much made it across the state, and numbers are increasing in more areas. You’ve got to check for them down in the plant, not just ‘windshield’ the beans when you drive down the highway. By the time loopers blow out the top, they’ve done a good deal of damage.

    “Velvetbean caterpillars (VBC) also are moving across the state pretty good. Typically, we say you can kill them with just about anything. But we have seen less-than-desirable results oneor two times with lambda, although we don’t know if that was due to an application error. I’m recommending a lot of Intrepid or a generic equivalent for VBC.  However, in many cases loopers are out there, so go with Intrepid and bifenthrin in that situation.”


    Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas

    “We’ve turned loose all of the cotton, but I don’t think any defoliation will start before Labor Day. Usually, the first application goes out in the first week in September.

    “In soybeans, we’re close to letting go of a whole lot of acres. We’ve already quit watering and quit checking some. We have later beans and have sprayed loopers here and there, and we treated some more fields for bollworms. But it hasn’t been terrible, and we’re pretty close to letting go of a lot of those soybeans, too.

    “We may not desiccate many soybean acres this year, considering all the corn and rice that farmers are trying to harvest now. We’ll be in a bind to get all of that out of the field as it is, much less start into soybeans, too.

    “Our corn harvest is really just beginning. Moisture is still up. One guy began cutting dryland corn that was down to maybe 19% moisture. Other farmers are cutting and will run the corn through a drier to get started. No word yet on yields.

    “In rice, a couple of samples were cut yesterday (8/25). One was at 22% moisture, the other at 24%. Nothing will happen in the rice until the storm passes through, but things might be moving pretty good next week.”


    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist

    “Stinkbugs have required a few treatments where they moved into cotton that farmers need to carry a little longer. It’s nothing major, just a few places. Mostly, though, cotton is really quiet.

    “I’m seeing open bolls around.


    “In soybeans, we’re dealing with redbanded stinkbugs (RBSB) and loopers in places, and quite a few treatments have gone out. In certain fields, RBSBs are hitting 2X to 3X threshold, but counts still haven’t reached those incredibly high numbers we dealt with in 2017.

    “At least right now, populations may be diluted, meaning the RBSB that are out there have spread out over a good deal of acreage. But in the coming weeks, more beans will be desiccated and cut, so we’ll be left with fewer green areas, and that’s where RBSB will concentrate. At that point, we could see numbers jump considerably.

    “Loopers vary by location, but they are widespread and numbers are extremely high in places. I haven’t heard of any instances where the naturally occurring virus has kicked in to take down populations. It’s triggered by cooler weather, but I guess temperatures didn’t drop enough a week ago to put the virus into play.

    “A couple of odd things have turned up.

    “First, a number of people have called about the banded cucumber beetle, a little green beetle with yellow spots. For whatever reason, they’re appearing in incredibly high numbers but aren’t causing much damage. We would go by a defoliation threshold to determine whether to treat, but I’m not aware of anything approaching that. Still, though, they are drawing attention. I’m hearing reports about counts at 500 to 1,000 in 100 sweeps. In some of our sweeping, we counted 100 in 25 sweeps.

    “Also, a few targeted sprays have gone out for green cloverworms, which is unusual.

    “We’re closely watching redbanded stinkbugs (RBSB), especially with this hurricane (Laura). It could bring a stretch of rainy conditions here. Those two things – RBSB and extended rainy weather – don’t go together. If the storm is a short-term event, RBSB may not be as huge of a concern at the moment. But if rain sets in for 7 days or longer, that will complicate things with RBSB. And it doesn’t have to be heavy rain, just enough to keep things wet.

    “With those conditions, people may not be able to spray if RBSB numbers build. Also, prolonged wet conditions tend to soften up the beans, and that makes them more susceptible to RBSB punctures. That feeding, in turn, opens the way for diseases to enter the seed, which results in even worse quality problems.

    “For those reasons, it would be prudent to clean up RBSB ahead of the rain if you have any appreciable numbers.

    “Corn harvest also figures into this. Farmers will be concentrating on that and will leave beans in the field for a while. RBSB numbers can jump pretty quickly from, say, 4 per 25 sweeps to 10 per 25 sweeps. If beans have to wait in the field, consider adding an insecticide for RBSB when you apply a desiccant. We don’t have a standard recommendation for when to make that kind of tankmix application, but it’s sort of a judgment call decision based on how quick you can harvest and if RBSB are in the field.”


    Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana

    “Not much is left to talk about with the cotton, and I’m not checking for bugs anymore. Mainly, we’re just waiting to defoliate. We’re hoping the hurricane (Laura) doesn’t bring any strong winds or heavy rain when it comes through. With our very earliest cotton, we may start defoliating around the middle to latter part of next week.

    “In rice, we’ve drained a lot of fields, and some people started cutting last week and into this week. We did make fungicide applications yesterday (8/24) in our latest-planted fields. Other than that, we’re just spraying for stinkbugs where they pop up.

    “We’re about 90% done with harvesting corn. A few people have a small number of late-planted fields, so they still have a little acreage left to harvest. So far, yields have been really good. Everything I’ve heard has been 180 bu/acre or above, with certain fields or farms averaging in the 230s and 240s.

    “We have cut very few soybeans acres yet. Some people in the area planted early and went with early-maturing varieties, and they were cutting beans a couple of weeks ago. But most farmers are just now making a good start. I’m sure that after this hurricane passes through, we will be harvesting more beans next week.

    “We’re still treating loopers and stinkbugs in the soybeans, sometimes both in the same field.”


    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee

    “We’re finishing up a big part of our cotton. Even with the later crop, we’re probably in the last 7 to 10 days with any remaining management decisions. We’re still seeing flurries of bollworm moths, but pretty much all of the cotton is past needing care. If you’re applying an insecticide here in the first few days of September, you’re optimistic, so this is the last hurrah.

    “On average, our last effective bloom date is August 15. Assuming first average frost dates and typical fall weather, any small bolls after September 1 won’t contribute anything to yield, and if the plant has cut out, those bolls won’t make it anyway.

    “Some of those latest fields may still require treatments this week for bollworms, plant bugs or stinkbugs, depending on the situation. Our late crop caught rain in places, and it will be a decent crop — not great but decent.

    “I’m seeing cracked bolls here and there, but not much cotton has opened yet. I’ve only seen a few bolls cracked open in our earliest cotton here at the station in Jackson. It was planted on April 20 and it’s been pretty dry here, too.

    “Very little corn harvest has started, but I expect that it’s going to increase pretty quickly in the next week or so.

    “Some of our early beans are close to full maturity. We’re still spraying a little for a few scattered stinkbugs. We had a pretty good flurry of green cloverworms for a couple of weeks, and had had to spray those in places. Looper numbers are pretty low right now, but people are starting to mention them more.”


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