Welcome to the AgFax Midsouth Cotton newsletter. This weekly crop report covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. We’re excited to have you onboard for AgFax’s 31st year of publishing crop newsletters.
This newsletter is a continuation of the legacy left behind by the AgFax founders, Owen Taylor and Debra Ferguson, who passed away in an automobile accident in December 2020. Their dedication to the integrity of these crop reports and the other AgFax newsletters was recognized across the nation in the ag media industry. Farm Journal is honored to continue the AgFax tradition.
Eddy Cates, Cates Agritech Inc., Marion, Arkansas
“In northeast Arkansas, cotton planting is 99% complete. We’re pretty much finished minus a little random spot planting. Around 80% of the cotton has enough moisture and is up to a stand, but the other 20% really needs a rain to complete the stands.
“We got a little rain shower this afternoon (May 26) and are hoping for another in the next couple days to complete these stands. Areas along the Mississippi River have gotten the least rain. The farther west you go from the Mississippi, the more rain, but we really need rain from Memphis to the Missouri Bootheel.
“This crop has pretty much been put in the ground in seven or eight days. A little was planted around April 25 through early May, but after that nothing was planted for weeks. Finally, a dry week came, and that’s when pretty much everything was planted. The capabilities of the planters are incredible.
“Our cotton acres are very comparable to previous years. Although soybeans and corn did take over a few acres, growers who typically plant cotton did so again this year.
“Our oldest cotton is at the third true leaf. It went through some bad cold weather, and we are having to spray it for thrips. Everything else is just at the cotyledon stage.
“Some Rhizoctonia did show up in the cotton that was planted in late April. The stands have stayed uniform, but we did have to do some spot planting.
“A lot of acres were planted without a pre-emergent herbicide due to 20 to 25 mph winds. As the cotton emerged, many sprayed with PowerMax and XtendiMax until yesterday (May 25) due to the dicamba cutoff date. A lot of acres still don’t have any preventative. We will likely come back over it with PowerMax and Liberty over the two- and three-leaf cotton.
“We are seeing a huge amount of weed pressure. Pigweed is the biggest problem right now, and with the new dicamba date, that’s tough to combat.
“We’re seeing a lot of different varieties this year. Mainly Deltapine 2038 B3XF, Deltapine 2020 B3XF, Stoneville 4990 B3XF, Stoneville 4993 B3XF and NexGen 4936 B3XF. Most of our cotton crop is Bollgard 3, and the vigor and stand emergence has been very good with all of them.”
Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist
“We have received an unsightly amount of rain the past two weeks. In high, well-draining ground, today (May 25) was the first day we were able to get in the field. Some guys were out at the end of last week, but all the cotton is behind. The northeast has not received near the rainfall central or southern parts of the state have.
“At my research station, we got 14 inches of rain in April. I don’t have the exact figures, but I would say we’ve gotten around that in May as well. We easily received a third of our annual rainfall in the last six weeks. Our average is around 60 inches of rain a year – in a typical year.
“Pretty much all my cotton in trials died. It’s about 10 acres worth of tests that must start back at the beginning. I like to have everything planted by May 10, but this year it will be about May 30. That’s just how the year has been going.
“We’ve gotten a lot of rain. The prevented planting cutoff date is today (5/25), and this is driving down the incentive to plant cotton. We’re seeing a major decline in cotton acres continuously. Our cotton acres have declined so much several gins are not opening in central Louisiana this year.
“A lot of cotton acres are shifting to soybeans. Redbanded stink bugs are not going to be a big issue this year due to the cold winter, and at $15 to $16 per bushel, you can still make money on a 40-bushel yield, especially with using limited insecticide this year. A lot of acres went to corn as well. At $6 per bushel, people can cashflow corn much easier than cotton.
“I have seen a few issues with pests in corn, but soybeans have been relatively quiet.
“I have seen a lot of issues with slugs, particularly on no-till acreage with a lot of leftover stubble or fields planted behind cover crops due to the high level of organic matter shielding the slugs at the planting surface. Once the crops emerged, the slugs started feeding heavily.
“Thrips have been fairly quiet in cotton. However, as this rain moves out, that will probably change. I am getting more calls about thrips and more interest in rescue sprays. It’s going to be hot this week with a lot of sunlight. We will accumulate a lot of heat units, but our cotton is still highly susceptible to thrips – especially with a lot of it still sitting in the bag. In the past couple years, thrips have come in a lot later than normally we anticipate. Soybeans are currently harboring a lot of thrips, so there’s a lot in the environment right now.
“Guys are finding bollworms in soybeans right now. Our earliest planted soybeans are at R1, but it takes a lot of defoliation to justify a spray in the vegetative stage beans. We don’t have a threshold at this point. Soybeans can stand a large amount of defoliation during the vegetative stage, as long as you’re not facing a stand loss. No one is at the point of stand loss, but the bollworms are isolated cases.”
Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University
“Cotton planting in Mississippi has been complicated this year. People typically like to start planting at the end of April and finish by May 10. However, there were very few opportunities to plant until last weekend (May 22). These planting windows were often followed by rain and cruel temperatures, which were hard on emerging cotton. It wasn’t accumulating any heat units at all.
“Early planting season consisted of concerns regarding emergence, getting a good stand and planting population. The calendar date is the current enemy.
“We’re trying to plant cotton now (May 25), and we’ve been planting a lot of OVT (Official Variety Trials). It did warm up last week. Although some areas were still wet, everywhere dried up quickly. The state will be finished planting by the end of this week for the most part, but the Delta areas are a couple days ahead of the hills.
“We ran into issues on the eastern side of the state where cover crops were not terminated prior to the two- or three-week rainy period. It continued growing making it harder to kill or plant into.
“Thrips are picking up, but populations are predicted to be gaining because the cotton is at that age. Treating should be on a case-by-case basis, but most people should be looking for an application going out in the next couple weeks to stay ahead. Being this late, we want to do everything possible to prevent delays in maturity that come with thrips and certain choices of insecticides and herbicides.
“I’ve been advising people to be timely with nitrogen applications. Having a later crop this year, we want to have nitrogen out prior to bloom to avoid any fruit abortion.
Also, moving into warmer, more favorable growing conditions, cotton tends to grow very vegetative. When it’s time, people should stay on top of PGR (plant growth regulator) management. This does highly depend on the variety.
“A lot of three-gene varieties are being planted this year. Some varieties were experimental last year and on the market this year, so there is not a lot of data on these varieties. Being familiar with specific growth habits of your variety allows the best use and timing of PGRs.”
Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas
“We have all of our cotton planted. Some is still coming up, but some has been up for five to seven days. It did stay wet for several weeks, but we got it all planted in less than a week with the new high-speed planters. It’s unreal how many acres these planters can cover in a short time. No substantial amount of cotton was planted before May 15 that I’m aware of.
“We haven’t seen any issues so far, but we did spray Cotoran behind the planter. I haven’t heard anything about thrips, but our cotton has only been up a few days. We’re just happy to have it all planted. Most of my cotton is Stoneville 5091 or 4990.
“Our cotton acreage is down from past years. We lost a lot of cotton acres to soybeans and corn this year due to price and weather.”
This weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: Farm Journal, 8725 Rosehill Rd., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215