Midsouth Cotton: Potential Tropical Depression Threatens Areas Already Underwater

    Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

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


    Developing potential tropical storm (Claudette) threatens growers with crops already underwater from last week’s rains that hit south Arkansas, north Louisiana and parts of Mississippi hard. Other areas are looking to irrigate fields by this weekend without a rain.

    Plant bugs have been spotted in several areas, and applications are going out on a case-by-case basis. Most would say it’s not a widespread issue yet.

    Weed pressure continues with untimely rains preventing growers from getting in the fields to spray. This week is the first dry spell most areas have seen, so a lot of herbicide treatments are going out.



    Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri 

    “Very little cotton was planted in late April. The entire early season was just little planting windows, and our best window for cotton planting was around May 15. Temperatures weren’t ideal in April or even into May, but everyone got their cotton planted by May 20 or so. When the material applied to the seed for insect control ran out, rain did delay us getting in the fields and treating.

    “Last week we were finally able to get in a lot of fields and treat for thrips, and I think we’re finally getting past them now (from June 16). We have also had to take action on a few fields where red spiders have been moving out of the weeds and cover crop that didn’t get an early burndown. I’ve seen an occasional plant bug in cotton, but we’re not going to really start sweeping the cotton until next week.

    “Some cotton is beginning to square. We should have blooming by July 4, which is always a key date for cotton blooms. I’m hoping for the best.

    “Farmers are busy cleaning up and fertilizing fields. We have had three or four days of dry weather and that many forecasted ahead of us, but we’ll be looking for a rain shower by the weekend (as of June 16).

    “I feel for the areas that received so much rain last week. I think we all know what it’s like, but we have been fortunate to work with the weather most of the season so far this year.”

    Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana  

    “We will finish fertilizing the cotton this week. We just finished planting cotton 7 to 10 days ago (from June 16). Everything is planted, the oldest is at match head square and most of it is fertilized. It won’t be long until we start seeing blooms.

    “Most of the earlier planted acres have been sprayed for thrips, but not every single acre has required treating. Populations varied farm by farm, but the later planted cotton seemed to miss the biggest thrips pressure.

    “A few applications are also going out for plant bugs and some plant growth regulators on the older cotton that has been squaring for a week or two.

    “In the cotton, we have done a pretty good job controlling the weeds. That isn’t exactly the case in soybeans or rice, but cotton acres got the typical burndown, the application at planting and have already had a post-herbicide shot.

    “My acres are pretty stable compared to last year. Everyone I dealt with who had cotton last year still has some cotton this year, but I’ve talked to other consultants whose cotton acres are way down.

    “Rice is a different story. We are still planting rice this week (as of June 16). Like the cotton, we have a wide range on our rice crop. It is anywhere from ready to flood to just trying to come up. Most of my rice is row rice this year, but I do still have a little traditional paddy rice. The oldest of my paddy rice is at or ready to be at permanent flood.

    “In the row rice, we are cleaning it up with herbicide to start laying irrigation pipe. Overall, weed pressure is under control in the rice, but a few fields are traditionally an issue.

    “I have some soybeans at R4, which are probably getting a fungicide application this week, but others are still getting planted. With a few exceptions, we are doing good on weed control. I’ve seen a few pests in random fields, but I haven’t seen any pests at treatment level yet. In the next 7 to 10 days, we will have a lot of beans moving into the R3 and R4 growth stages, and insect issues will likely start picking up then.

    “Corn is in really good shape. Most of my growers got their intended acres planted in a timely manner, and it is all past tasseling. A few guys started irrigating in the past few weeks in the lighter soils, and some fungicide work is going out. Some applications are preventative and other growers are treating for a few disease signs popping up.

    “Rain is in the forecast for this weekend from a developing tropical system (Claudette), so that will at least get some of our earliest planted corn on heavy ground very close to finishing out as far as irrigation goes. Most growers would welcome a good rain by that point.”

    Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas: 

    “Cotton season started out pretty bad, to be honest. We really had two planting dates for this crop – an early planting window and what I’m calling the majority window. These were the only two long breaks in the weather during the earlier part of the year. The early planted cotton has seen some challenges from cold soil temperatures to a wealth of rain to even colder temperatures, but some of the oldest fields are starting to square (June 15).

    “We’ve sprayed nearly all the cotton for thrips, and sprays continue to go out. The earlier planted fields have really taken it on the chin. A couple applications have gone out for plant bugs, but I’m not jumping up and down saying the plant bugs are here yet.

    “Between the wind and thrips, we did have to replant a few cotton fields with soybeans. However, the majority of the cotton looks really good and is getting nitrogen. We’ve let several fields go that we think can get past thrips, but most fields have had an application this year. They have just been in really high numbers and the weather hasn’t provided the cotton the opportunity to outgrow the thrips so far.

    “Stoneville 4550 looks great right now – outshining the other varieties for early vigor and handling the early season stress. DeltaPine 2127 and PhytoGen varieties look to be pretty good based on early season vigor.

    “With all the wet weather we’ve had, pigweed broke through the pres when it was wet. Just as it started to dry up enough to make an application, it would rain again. We’re spraying everything right now, and we’re thankful the dicamba restraining order has been extended. We’ll be able to clean up these messy fields, when I say messy, I mean messy fields, using one to two dicamba treatments with a Liberty application.

    “My rice is anywhere from two-leaf to green ring. The rice crop looks really good this year. Although we do have some grassy spots, the FullPage system has helped tremendously in a lot of cases. In areas where we have imazethapyr resistance, Clincher has worked really well this year. Airplane applications with Clincher have paired well with the cool temperatures and high moisture this year.

    “Ninety percent of my rice is in great shape, 5% might be ugly at the end of the year but will be alright, and the other 5% are traditionally challenging fields we battle every year. It’s all coming along with the weather we’ve been dealt.

    “The vigor of the FullPage varieties have really shined this year compared to RiceTec XP753, which was probably our No. 1 hybrid for the last five years. I believe the FullPage varieties will take over next year because RT XP753 did not handle the wet, cold weather we had while the FullPage varieties never checked up.

    “Between my dad (David Hydrick) and I, 60% to 70% of our rice is row rice. I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon. Yes, I think it’s somewhat a fad, but I also believe it has a major place in the industry. Once you get to the point of critiquing the system rather than learning it, it goes pretty good.

    “Soybeans range from just planted to R2 (as of June 15) with the majority between V4 to R2. The non-GMO and Enlist beans we have also look good. I do have one field of beans left to plant, but we knew it would be planted late. We’ve been fortunate that every time we spray it gets incorporated until now with this welcomed dry spell. Like the cotton, it is starting to get messy, so we’re looking to get some sprays out for weeds soon. No pests have been a big problem in the soybeans so far.

    “We are expecting 95% of the corn to start tasseling by the end of this week (from June 15). We’re putting out pre-tassel urea on everything right now, which is something I have done my entire consulting career, before and during graduate school. I saw someone ask if anyone puts out pre-tassel urea on Facebook, and it baffled me some people don’t! Putting out a pre-tassel shot of urea has a major benefit. Right before tasseling is one of corn’s biggest nitrogen uptake times, so providing it with the nitrogen it needs at this point can lead to really good yields.

    “Starting out the year, peanut seed quality was fairly poor. Several fields had to be replanted across several farms in the area. Most of the peanuts are blooming, and we will begin our fungicide program next week where we put out a fungicide application every two weeks.

    “Rice acres may be down a little compared to last year, but we had an exceptional year for rice in 2020. I’m still happy with it this year though. I’m checking more soybean acres than anything this year because of the price. Corn acres are up a little while cotton is pretty flat compared to last year. Everything is coming along, and at these prices, we know everything will work out in the end.”

    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist 

    “Things have quieted down in cotton. We hit 97 degrees today (June 15), the high is 97 again tomorrow, so we’re hovering right around 100 degrees. All these heat units are making the cotton start jumping especially if it has nitrogen under it.

    “Thrips are still in the environment, but we’re growing out of the thrips susceptibility stage quickly. My colleague in the northeast part of the state still has higher thrips pressure, so some locations are still going to experience them. We have good cotton growing conditions right now to fight off thrips though. We have the heat units, so if you have the moisture, cotton is going to grow out of the susceptible stage.

    “I haven’t had many calls regarding cotton aphids this year. We are definitely not seeing the blow up we saw last year. If we stay hot and dry like this, populations will start to increase. However, with the potential developing tropical depression hitting us at the end of the week, our dry spell may end. The radar does not indicate a defined part of Louisiana that could be affected (as of June 15).

    “Some of the growers with the earliest planted cotton have started making applications for plant bugs especially in fields bordering corn. With the high price of corn, we have a lot of it across the state. From what I’m hearing, big populations of plant bugs are gathering in the cotton near corn.

    “Our corn acres are moving along. Earlier planted corn is at brown silk with some even moving into dough. Some growers had a window in early March and planted a lot of acres of corn. We’re at the transition point where plant bugs are moving out of corn and into cotton particularly around field edges.

    “Soybeans are pretty quiet right now. Around the state our beans range from R3 to cotyledon, and some places are still too wet to get them planted. Today was the last day to get maximum insurance payments, so I think a lot of guys were trying to make decisions on soybeans today.

    “We saw an early flush of corn earworms in the vegetative stage beans, but those populations have been drawn into the corn as it’s at the ideal stage for corn earworm infestations. We also have more grain sorghum acres, so between the two, corn earworms are being sucked away from the soybeans. That means we are going to have a lot of susceptible beans and cotton at the opportune growth stage when the corn earworms come out of the corn and grain sorghum.

    “It was easy to find worms in the corn I scouted today (June 15). It was not uncommon to find 2 to 3 worms per ear, so they’re in the environment.

    “Sugarcane aphids are starting to show up in the earlier planted grain sorghum. Some applications are going today and will continue throughout the week (from June 15). The colonies are not hard to find in the area. It is especially easy to find sugarcane aphids in johnsongrass or grain sorghum near johnsongrass, which many of our grain sorghum acres are inundated with.”


    Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University:

    “Things are starting to look better. It’s been warm and the sun is shining compared to all the rain last week (week of June 7). Most areas got an excessive amount of rain, but areas in the western Delta received much lower amounts. Areas surrounding Greenville only received 3.5 to 4 total inches of rain in one day while I heard reports from some areas of upward of 15 total inches. In Starkville, we had multiple days with 6-inch and 3-inch totals, but it was more spread out than other places. All the water drained off before the next rain event hit here in Starkville. Above a latitude line across the state north of highway 82 really got hit the worst by last week’s rains.  However, there were massive rain reports coming from areas south of highway 82.

    “The hot topic has been how will all this rain affect the crops. I’m sure we lost some cotton and other fields probably don’t look great right now. Insurance claims will be made, but it depends on the grower’s insurance whether it will be a replant situation, a total loss or a salvage situation with the remaining stand. Ultimately, yield losses should be expected from the environmental conditions we have experienced in 2021. It hasn’t rained since Sunday (June 13), and that gives us a chance to respond and assess the damage. I’m sure we lost some nitrogen, whether it denitrified under anaerobic conditions or leached through the soil profile.

    “Carefully consider applying extra nitrogen this late in the season though. If we were to run into more wet weather later in the season, this would be a recipe for pathogens that thrive in those conditions that cause foliar diseases and late-season pests. If you’re seeing early deficiency signs, nitrogen applications may need to go out on a case-by-case basis. However, I would not recommend putting an application on every field.

    “With all this rain, a lot of our pre herbicides are probably gone and weeds will start breaking through. People will have to stay on top of that. Thrips have been a major pest this year, but I’m sure the rain physically removed some of them from the plants temporarily. As we move into reproductive growth, we are going to have to be diligent in scouting to protect the first-position fruit around the fifth node. With this late of a crop, or any crop, we want to protect the nodes and positions that contribute to the greatest portion of the overall yield.

    “We just need cotton to grow. A lot of it is behind because we missed a lot of heat units in the first two weeks of June, but hopefully the weather will cooperate, and we can catch up a little.”

    Joel Moor, Moor Ag Services, LLC, Indianola, Mississippi: 

    “We’re halfway underwater right now. Our cotton is anywhere from underwater to four-leaf to ninth- or tenth-node and starting to square. With the cold weather and abundant rain, thrips were pretty bad early on. We finally got out of the thrip stage and ran into all the rain last week (week of June 7). Some fields will probably be covered in water for another week or two, but I expect to replant with a lot of soybeans if we don’t get another rain.

    “However, there is a possibility of a tropical storm forming around the Gulf and bringing in a bunch of rain again next week (as of June 15). With that looming rain, we don’t even know if some fields will dry up to be able to replant with soybeans. Depending on what each farmer has booked, we could be looking at taking insurances or replants – only time will tell.

    “Several fields are growing off fine in the high spots, but low spots are still 1 foot under water. We’ll just have to farm what we have left especially in cotton and corn fields because it’s too late to plant those two crops. We may replant beans across the rows in those fields just to have something planted. We can plant beans into July, and with prices right now, it’s more favorable to plant beans. If beans were still around $9, people would just be taking what insurance they could get. You can still make a little money producing 40 bushels for $14, but we must get the soybeans planted before July. Some people won’t be able to even do that. It’s a mess down here.

    “The weed pressure is coming on in fields that haven’t been sprayed for the past week. Insects have been pretty quiet. However, we have found a few stink bugs in the beans, but no applications have been necessary so far. We started sweeping cotton this week (June 15) with no plant bugs to report. I’m sure it’ll be firing up by next week though.

    “Most of the corn just started tasseling but it ranges down to V10. The beans range from under water to R3 with some acres in the bag waiting to be planted.

    “Despite all the rain we have received, some areas are drying up quick. If the rain chance for this weekend doesn’t materialize, we’ll have to start watering corn again by the first of next week (from June 15). I guess we’ll just water the high stuff and let it run into the standing water at the low end of the fields.

    “We’ll make it through like we always do.”

    AgFax Midsouth Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Ernst Undesser, Editorial Director.

    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis 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.

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