Southwest Cotton: Temps – and Pests – on the Rise

    Photo: Seth Byrd, OSU Cotton Specialist

    Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton, sponsored by the Southwest team of PhytoGen cottonseed.


    The heat is on in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle where 100-degree temperatures are forecast this week. That’s welcome news for growers ready for the sunshine after enjoying plenty of rainfall. But crusting issues following those rains have growers pondering whether replants are needed.

    Waterlogged fields in southern growing regions are a concern as cotton and other crops long for better growing conditions. Lodging is hurting sorghum hit with too much water and wind in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

    Herbicides will be tested as weeds try to take over fields after several weeks of rain in much of our reporting area. Beware of herbicide drift that’s already an issue for a few fields.

    Thrips and fleahoppers are on the radar as young plants emerge and approach squaring. False chinch bugs, spider mites, rice stink bugs, aphids, grasshoppers and other pests are also discussed in this week’s report.


    Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo: 

    “Warm weather is welcome this week after cool temperatures slowed cotton planting and growth. The 90- and 100-degree heat and sufficient soil moisture will help the cotton take off. However, sporadic hail damaged some Panhandle fields and others have been crusted over following continued rain the past few weeks.

    “Crusting varies across the region. Many fields are experiencing delayed emergence due to seed being pushed deeper into the soil from heavy rain. Where there is crusting plus deeper seed, producers are becoming nervous about stands and replant decisions. A few are considering alternative replants due to crust issues, but where there is residue to keep soil moist or irrigation to soften the soil, cotton is pushing through. We will know more as the weather warms and growth progresses.

    “Wheat is quickly drying down with the heat. Producers should make sure to scout their cotton for thrips, which will likely migrate out of wheat fields.”

    Jerry Goodson, Oklahoma State University Extension Assistant/Entomologist, Altus: 

    “Beneficial rains continue to fall across the state. Hopefully, everyone has received a soaker. May and early June’s cooler temps have slowed crop development. You could say cotton weather has not started but warmer weather is in the forecast.

    “Remember, if the field has been planted 21 days or longer, the seed treatment has run out. Thrips will be the main concern until the crop reaches the 4- to 5-leaf stage. Other pests have also been observed, including spider mites, aphids and false chinch bugs in Tillman County, stink bugs in Caddo County and hatches of grasshoppers along edges of fields in Jackson County. About the only thing not seen this year is Elvis but the week is not over.

    “Growers should always take precautions against herbicide drift. Unfortunately, herbicide damage is occurring in some fields from off-target applications. Several fields have had to be replanted.”

    Danielle Sekula, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Lower Rio Grande Valley: 

    “Our already saturated fields recently received another 2 inches to 5 inches of rain in some areas and 6 inches to 7 inches in others. Flooding has caused waterlogged cotton with standing water in the fields. Flooding has also promoted lodging in more mature grain sorghum crops hit with high winds. Hopefully warmer and drier weather the next few weeks will help us recover lost heat units.

    “Pests are not much of an issue in cotton, although we’re still seeing a handful of cotton fleahopper adults and nymphs. Most Valley cotton is beyond the growth stage where fleahoppers are a threat, but there are still a few late-planted fields that may be impacted. During the first three weeks of squaring, 15 to 25 fleahoppers per 100 terminals may cause economic damage. But once bolls are present and cotton begins to flower, they’re no longer considered a threat.

    “Midge has been an issue in sorghum, and we’re still finding about 3% to 5% headworm infestation in many sorghum fields in the soft dough stage. The economic threshold level for headworms is 1 to 2 larvae per grain head. Rice stink bugs are also at threshold in area sorghum fields. Threshold is 1 stink bug per head.”

    Loren Seaman, Seaman Crop Consulting, Hugoton, Kansas: 

    “The crop is basically all in the ground, but growth has been slow. Quite a few fields are just starting to emerge. We’re waiting on the last ones to come up. Stands will be OK, but we need warmer weather the next three to four weeks. We’re way behind on heat units.

    “It’s too early for thrips pressure and the wheat is two weeks behind. Hopefully, seed treatments will hold until the last week of June to protect against thrips. I doubt if any wheat harvesting happens until about June 25. We should have a decent wheat crop.

    “Corn is doing fine but is also late. It’s just now getting to the 4- or 5- leaf stage. Guys are concerned but it should be fine. We’re seeing more sorghum under irrigation due to the possibly higher grain price. We need to consider more milo in our rotation to help break the cycle with corn.

    “We have enough cover crop residue to help prevent blowing and help manage weeds. Weed control is successful so far. We didn’t apply pre-emerge herbicides on about half the acres, but we are adding them to the post-emerge treatments. When managing weeds, guys need to be cautious about herbicide drift when using the auxin herbicides. There is too much to lose if they are used outside label restrictions. Take time to do it correctly.”

    Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: 

    “Planting in the northern counties is just about complete. That’s good because they deal with a shorter growing season. Growers near and south of Lubbock are running full speed where it’s dry enough for planting. With a wide-open week ahead, I expect many cotton acres to be planted.

    “Cotton that’s up and able to escape the isolated hailstorms looks good. We have heard reports of seedling diseases impacting some fields, and there are disease situations at the research station in Lubbock as well.

    “Overall, we ran behind on heat units for the month of May. This is less pronounced in the northern counties when compared to the southern counties. For example, Amarillo and northeast had about 236 heat units, compared to the long-term average of 275. In the Lubbock area, it was 291 versus 409. We expect warmer weather this week. While assuming we continue to get good moisture, folks need to pay close attention to excessive vegetative growth. Managing the crop for earliness may also be a good strategy this year.”

    Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Garden City: 

    “Our part of West Texas is about 85% planted today (June 7) and we should finish up by the June 10 insurance deadline. Things have dried out after good rains and we’re rolling as hard as we can to tie up things.

    “Weed control is an issue after the May rainfall. Guys are trying to get herbicides out with multiple modes of action to prevent major weed pressure. Insects are light. There are a few hot spots with wireworms, but that’s about it. We expect a few thrips to move out of terminated wheat.

    “We’re eager for the crop to progress after the good moisture. But as always we dread the 100-degree days typical down here as we get into June.”

    Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: 

    “It’s wet again after a day or two of sunshine. We’ve received 1 inch to 2 inches today (June 7) and it’s still raining. It won’t seem to stop, and the cotton is suffering. Fields that can drain are better off and the temperatures are warmer, which helps. But it’s just way behind.

    “Weeds are growing fast and furious due to the rain and we can’t get into the field to do anything about them. Insects are popping up. There is an increase in fleahoppers, and we’ve made aerial applications to treat more mature plants in between showers. There are also a few aphids, but nothing too alarming.

    “Sorghum fields are seeing light sugarcane aphid pressure and midge is also showing up. Corn still looks good but also needs sun. We’re just waiting for rain to stop.”


    Chris Locke, CSL Consulting, Inc., Sudan, Texas: 

    “This planting has gone from one extreme to another in the Parmer and Bailey county areas. It was too dry to do anything and now it’s too wet to do anything. We could be looking at a late crop. Some early-planted irrigated fields are at two to three true leaves. However, most cotton is just now coming up or at cotyledon.

    “We escaped many weed flushes from early irrigation, but we expect more weed pressure this week and next following the rains. Fields are still clean where guys ran conventional till in front of the planter. Burndowns also worked well. But it won’t be long before more herbicide treatments will be needed.”

    “Corn stands are rocking and rolling. Early corn looks good and is at about the 7- to 9-leaf stage. Mid- to late-corn is at the 3- to 4-leaf stage. I expect to see more milo planted if guys can’t get their cotton in.”

    Alan Seitz, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wilcox, Arizona:

    “Growers finished their remaining replants last week. Some were late enough they switched to corn in several circles. Our most advanced cotton in southeast Arizona is at the 7- to 8-leaf stage. Other fields are at the 2- to 3-leaf stage.

    “We’re finally getting the heat we need. It will be 102 by the weekend. We’re spraying for thrips in spotted areas. With the delayed decision on whether to keep stands, most herbicide activity has been post application.”

    Gary Beverage, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Artesia, New Mexico: 

    “Growers in southeast New Mexico and across the border into Texas are about 95% planted. There has been good moisture the last week or two to help things out. Unfortunately, hailstorms accompanied some of the rain and replants have been needed.

    “Since May was cooler than normal, the crop is behind on heat units. But overall, we’re seeing decent stands. The most advanced cotton is at five to six leaves, with pinhead-square in a few fields.

    “Insect pressure remains light other than a few thrips. Grasshoppers are showing up but not as bad as we’re used to. With 100-degree temperatures on the way it could be a shock to the system. Herbicides are holding down weeds, but we’ve only had moisture the last two weeks. We’re counting on pre-emerge applications to handle the post-rain weeds.

    “Chili peppers may face disease pressure after the rains. Applications of copper fungicides may be needed. They’re usually affordable treatments that can delay the start of leaf spot and other traditional fungal problems.”

    Orlando Flores, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, El Paso County:

    “We’ve hit the century mark the last couple of days, good cotton growing weather. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of irrigation water, our planted acres are still about one third of what we normally see planted. What acres we have will see irrigation throughout the month from water released from New Mexico’s Elephant Butte/Caballo Dam last week.

    “Cotton looks good, considering the pre-irrigation was City of El Paso effluent and/or poor quality well water. Plants are at the 7- to 8-leaf stage. No major pest damage has been reported.

    “Extension variety trials look exceptional. El Paso County Extension Pima Cotton variety trials look excellent. I’m pleased with the collaboration that takes place between Extension, Tirres Farms, Deltapine and PhytoGen. On a similar note, the Fusarium Wilt (FOV4) plots look good as well. I continue to monitor ‘hot spots’ in the Upper and Lower Valley for potential FOV4 infestation. That research is needed to prevent that disease from spreading. It is made possible through teamwork between AgriLife Extension and Research, USDA-ARS, New Mexico State University, Cotton Incorporated, Grijalva Farms and the various seed companies.”

    Mark Hatley, Crop Quest, Dumas, Texas:

    “The break in the weather has helped us get into the field to make timely sprays for weeds. Herbicide applications benefited from the humidity we’ve seen during the rainy periods. There are better opportunities to get the residuals activated and weeds have been easier to control.

    “Cotton has responded much better than I expected to the cool, wet weather. Most is at the 2-to 3-leaf stage and off to a good start. Our only insect concerns are thrips. Insecticide treatments are going out.

    “Corn looks good and is starting to grow. It’s up to the 6- to 7-leaf stage. After the rain, it should respond big time to the warmer weather in the forecast. Wheat is turning and we will be harvesting next few weeks. The crop looks pretty good. There is more milo in the area due to stronger grain prices. With the rain we’ll see even more go in.”


    WASDE Cotton: Increased Exports, Lower U.S. Ending Stocks

    Texas Plains: Lots of Weather Problems, Few Complaints About Rain

    Texas Field Reports: Rains, Wet Conditions Cause Delays

    Texas LRGV: Few Pests in Cotton, Midge Prevalent in Sorghum

    Thompson Cotton: Prices Rise Despite Improving Moisture in the Southwest 

    Cleveland on Cotton: Production Concerns and Rising Demand 

    Weekly Cotton Market Review – USDA

    AgFax Southwest Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Ernst Undesser, Editorial Director. It covers cotton production in Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis 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: Farm Journal, 8725 Rosehill Rd., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215
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