Texas Plains: Checking if Fields Survived the Weather, Not Many Pests Yet

    General Status

    This week our producers and associated industries are trying to see just how much we can do at the same time with the least amount of sleep. We certainly have and have had a lot of farming to do. A lot of actions were delayed.

    Nothing in the field waits and we have several stage, calendar, and size deadlines running at us fast. But we are moving pretty fast too, and I believe we are making up ground in the high heat.

    We have finally been able to make rounds to see which fields survived and which fields and lost and are addressing the fields we were not able to plant due to the extended rainy and cool weather of late May. The last of our intended and replant cotton is going out this week and secondary crop seed is being ordered and moved to the field as fast as possible.

    As we make those decisions and form the plans into fruition, our pests, both weed and insect, must also be addressed for our fields that survived. While the insect pests need to be scouted and evaluated, and if an issue, handled accordingly, the weeds are certainly advancing. In the past week we have seen untreated 1-inch-tall weeds jump to 9-inch-tall weeds as producers jump from planter to sprayer repeatedly.


    Our Plains Pest Management Scouting Program cotton ranges in stage from germinating seed up to 4th true leaf stage with most fields hovering around cotyledon to 2nd true leaf. Surviving fields have been through quite a bit. This includes weather that was really too cool for cotton seedlings for weeks, in moisture that promotes seedling disease, high winds, spotty hail, and insect pressure.

    Thanks to that moisture, I do think most fields are going to be alright. The extreme heat of this week has certainly separated the sickly plants from the surviving plants that can recover fully very quickly. Many seedling diseased plants and those with extreme cold shock or heavy wireworm damaged roots were simply not healthy enough to survive the test.

    More on Cotton

    We have noted several fields that failed that looked pretty good a few weeks ago coming up. While most of the surviving fields have seedling development that seems a bit slow this week, we need to understand that these plants have been exposed to extremes in both directions and are actually recovering pretty fast.

    I feel pretty confident that a field established with a minimum plant per acre population today (27,000 irrigated, 13,000 dryland) can be managed for profitability baring any extreme weather events in the future.

    Our thrips population has been below average so far this season. The weather and its extremes have undoubtedly had something to do with that. We are still finding some fields over the recommended ET of 1 thrips per true leaf stage again this week. These treated fields were by far the minority.

    We have even been able to hold off and not have to rush an over-the-top treatment in areas where we thrips treatments are usually automatic. At least fields without dire weed issues. We are not out of the proverbial thrips threat yet; particularly where drying wheat is nearby. Their population will recover, especially as our insecticidal seed treatments play out.

    We usually get through 2nd and maybe 3rd true leaf with seed treatment control. With the delayed development of our sickly seedlings this year this residual probably will not last that ‘long” while our already delayed development cannot afford to be delayed farther by thrips issues.

    Corn and Sorghum

    Our PPM corn and sorghum continue to look rough but are developing well with healthy growing points with the oldest taking full advantage of the moisture available. Our youngest grains are yet to be planted and our oldest corn is at V6 stage with several fields zipping past several labeled herbicide cut-off stages we need to be aware of.

    We are still not picking up any pest of note on our grain crops this week and make note of very light disease pressure. Dr. Pat Porter did advise us today that Lubbock County is experiencing a heavy fall armyworm moth flight the past few days. This will not be shown in his weekly moth trap data from earlier in the week.

    If this flight does move just a touch north, we should start to see whorl feeding in grain in a few weeks. This issue is rarely economic until we lose over 30% foliage or the larva feed down to the growing point.

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