Randy Boman, Windstar Cotton Agronomics Manager, Edmonson, Texas:
“I have variety trials in Western Oklahoma that just received over 2 inches of rain. That was good, but overall the rain is a little untimely for that area and into the Texas Panhandle and parts of the South Plains. Many growers couldn’t buy a rain south and southwest of Amarillo this spring. Now, they can’t get the crop completely planted due to excessive rainfall.
“With the rain and cool weather, much cotton will be late. Guys from down near Plainview up to Dawn and the Top of Texas Gin kept missing rain early. They are in a squeeze, first hoping for rain and now trying to get their crop in the ground. In the northern Panhandle toward Sunray, planting was completed on time for many growers. Earlier fields are seeing plants up to nearly the first true leaf. Those plants need to be managed well.
“They should be monitored for thrips to prevent any crop damage, especially that far north. Seed treatments start fizzling out on fields planted early. Plants need to be healthy to capture heat units before fall weather hits them.
“Warmer weather is the key heading into June. It’s needed to crank up the cotton. We’re seeing strong cotton prices – but we need something to sell.”
Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield:
“With the wet, cool weather on top of higher grain prices, Kansas cotton acres will likely be down dramatically. We could see close to 40% fewer cotton acres than last year. Several weeks of rain and cool temperatures have prevented most growers from planting cotton. People who planted in narrow windows have a good stand. Now they wonder how good the crop will be down the road.
“Several weeks ago, growers in southwest Kansas were praying for rain after wheat was drying up and it was too dry to plant summer crops. Then they started catching rain and many got more than they bargained for. Cotton growers who own large bale harvesting equipment will likely still plant cotton if they can, but those without cotton equipment are looking more at corn or milo. We’ll know more in several weeks. Warm, dry weather would help everyone.”
Kate Crumley, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Jackson, Wharton and Matagorda Counties:
“Since it has been so wet, areas of Upper Coast cotton are exhibiting nitrogen deficiency symptoms. Waterlogged conditions can also delay plant maturity. I’ve received a few questions on PGR considerations with our recent rainfall. Likely the best approach with our current conditions is to apply a PGR at moderate rates once fields have dried. Decisions should be made on a field-by-field basis.
“Insect pressure has been minimal. However, if you have younger cotton, thrips are still out there. Cotton fleahoppers are also still around. Fleahopper feeding causes squares to drop. The threshold for fleahoppers is 15 to 25 per 100 plants. Plants can recover from and compensate for square loss, but catching fleahoppers early can prevent heavy damage.
“Check for fleahoppers by inspecting the plant terminals once they start squaring. I look at 25 plants per stop in the field and usually check 100 plants total in an 80-to-100-acre field. Check more if the field is larger. Many fleahoppers are nymphs, near the size of aphids, but look like smaller versions of the adults without wings. They are more mobile than aphids.
“The threshold for cotton aphids is 50 per leaf. If you see aphid mummies in the field that’s a good thing. Parasitoid wasps lay eggs in the aphids. The aphid forms a mummy while the wasp larvae is pupating inside. These beneficial wasps, lady beetles and lacewings, can knock back aphid populations. Treatment for aphids is rarely justified, but if you do decide to treat for aphids, do not use a pyrethroid. Pyrethroids kill beneficial insects as well as your target insect, but pests such as aphids bounce back much quicker than their predators. Their high reproductive rate will allow their numbers to soar after a broad-spectrum insecticide application kills all their predators.
“For other crops, there are armyworms in pastures and sorghum. With the rain we’ve gotten I’m not sure any control measures have been made. Fungicide applications have been going out against northern leaf blight and southern rust in corn the past couple weeks.”
Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon:
“It is the same story here as in many other cotton areas where there has been so much untimely rain. Producers haven’t been able to plant much at all. They had about 6 inches of rain in the Haskell and Munday areas and more is expected on the northern Rolling Plains.
“It is hurting irrigated producers the most because they need to get the crop in. Dryland producers typically plant later to take advantage of good soil moisture. I haven’t seen much cotton up. Peanuts are also late in getting planted.
“Wheat is nearly ready for harvest but it is too muddy for combines to get into the field. If it keeps raining my next concern is sprouting in the head. Cooler weather helped to boost yield potential, but we need drier weather to harvest.”