Southwest Cotton: More Rain Means More Weeds, But Chemicals Hard to Come By

Thrips injury in young cotton. Image from Mississippi State University

Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

Ernst Undesser, Editor

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

Stands are steady in western Oklahoma after a slow start. Kansas is also seeing late, yet successful starts despite acre reduction.

Cotton’s at a standstill in parts of the Panhandle, no thanks to continued rain and highs only in the 70s, notes AgriLife’s Jourdan Bell. Unseasonal cool, wet conditions are lingering throughout northwest Texas and into Oklahoma.

Derecho damage has a few producers scrambling after high winds and hail had their way with cotton and corn fields in parts of the South Plains. Flash flooding has slowed conditions in southeastern New Mexico.

Higher production costs weren’t penciled in for Upper Coast cotton, where more fertilizer and other inputs were needed to replace material that washed away.



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

“Even though we’ve received much-needed rain, we’ve also seen below-average cool temperatures in the low 80s and 70s for highs. Cotton has come to a standstill. We’re approaching July 4th and a lot of cotton hasn’t started squaring. That’s too late.

“Fields continue to be weedy after the rains. Aerial applicators are very busy. That’s the only option for some producers with wet fields. They need to follow the labels and remember Enlist and XtendFlex auxin herbicides are not labeled for aerial applications.

“As has been reported in many areas, there are issues obtaining herbicides. It is becoming a challenge to get Liberty or Roundup. That makes weed control even more difficult. Insect pressure is thankfully low, but producers need to watch for fleahoppers.

“A Derecho-like weather event hit the southern Panhandle recently. High winds and heavy rain resulted in significant damage to corn. Cornfields are down, and I’m sure there was wind injury to cotton. Overall, corn looks good, but it also needs heat and sunshine to drive photosynthesis.

“On a bright spot, many Panhandle areas have high wheat yields. Dryland has averaged about 30 bushels per acre in some areas and the eastern Panhandle has even had some 40-bushel dryland. At the Bushland research farm, our irrigated trials have approached 115 bushels on some new better-yielding varieties. Much area wheat is cut for forage, but grain yields are welcomed by those who combined it this year.

“Overall, producers are ready for more sunshine and heat, more moderate summer temperatures. And a warm, open fall would be welcomed.

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

“I’m near Erick on I-40, where it’s raining and the sun is shining this morning (June 29). That about describes the weather we’ve been having. We were in the 100s a week ago and can’t get out of the 70s early this week. That means the crop is late by one to two weeks. It is just squaring. But many fields have some of the best stands I’ve seen in a long time.

“We’re making controlled shots of insecticide for fleahopper control. With all of the showers, fleahoppers aren’t that active. We’ll probably wait to fully spray until next week — and hope they don’t explode on us. It was a light year for thrips. We hope it’s the same for fleahoppers.

“Rains hampered the effectiveness of pre-emerge herbicides in some fields. Weeds will continue to be a problem with the rains we’re seeing.”

Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas: 

“After heavy rains that were close to four times more than average for May, the cotton finally got more heat units and drier weather on the Upper Coast. It is anywhere from 5 to 6 leaf on late replants to three to four weeks into bloom on the better fields. But it didn’t get there without added expense. When it dried up, we had to go back in and re-fertilize — something not in the budget. The rains also created heavy weed pressure. Many fields had to be sprayed twice in short intervals.

“Insect pressure is still light. The February freeze likely altered the cycles for lygus, fleahoppers and moths. Chemicals for weed and insect control have been hard to come by, so guys may need to make extra efforts to be prepared for insects and late weed pressure that will likely show up before the season is over.

“Corn is outstanding, even in fields that had standing water for a while. Soybeans also look good. They like the rain. Milo is average to above average. We’ll probably start cutting grain as soon as it dries up. Guys are hoping the higher corn and grain prices and better cotton markets help make up for the increase they’ve seen in their cost of production.”

Gary Beverage, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Artesia, New Mexico/Southwest Texas: 

“The weather is playing tricks again. We’ve been getting rain and I just drove through a flood (June 28) around Pecos. Maybe we have broken through the drought. Hopefully, we will get a little more rain.

“We’re catching up on the cotton. The last few weeks have given us something to work with. The crop looks better but there won’t be much that is blooming by July 4th. Weeds remain under control. However, they could be more challenging after the rain. We’re seeing shortages of glyphosates. We must be creative in keeping weeds controlled. We’ll push the pre-emerges until we get a canopy in late July or early August.

“Other than a few fleahoppers, insects remain light. There have been more armyworm moths on the move, but they have not hit cotton or alfalfa. Still, growers need to scout closely for them. Since we’ve had rain, southwest cotton rust could invade fields. I’m sure they will require treatments.

“Chili peppers are doing well. After handling a few armyworms early, there’s a chance for a decent chili crop.”

Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi: 

“We’re receiving small showers and getting close to finishing the crop. We’re about three weeks away from starting defoliation. Historically, defoliation begins on July 24, so it appears we’re right on schedule.

“Some cotton that had too much water a few weeks ago will be late. It’s trying to make fruit further up the plant after it dropped fruit and flowers while in standing water. Other fields are mostly on track and much of the cotton looks fantastic. It is sealing the deal with nice showers and enough sunlight hours to baby the crop along. The forecast is for more of the same weather next week.

“We’re looking at a better-than-average yield, which is normally about 1.5 bales per acre. It could push 2 bales this year. Some cotton on the Corpus research station is at 3-bale-plus, but it is not representative of the entire region.”

Alan Seitz, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wilcox, Arizona: 

“After seeing regular temperatures in the low 100s, we’ve cooled off and have a chance for rain. Fields are responding after replants following the cooler spring. There was also a little Rhizoc to deal with.

“We’re still making post-emerge herbicide applications of Xtend or Enlist and seeing decent weed control. We’re scouting for lygus and other insects but have not had to spray for anything. It’s still too early to make PGR applications.”

David Drake, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Northeast Texas: 

“I just got rained out of the field. That’s the kind of year we’ve had. But it’s hard to complain about rain after extra hot temperatures following springtime showers. We could still use more rain on summer crops.

“Cotton ranges from squaring and 8 to 10 nodes to stuff planted the first of June that has since developed good stands. We’re still watching for thrips on that young cotton, while the older cotton has guys scouting for fleahoppers. I’m sure we’ll also see bollworms as the season progresses. Weeds are under control for guys who put out preplant herbicides. They can come back and clean up any flushes.

“Weeds are bad in corn because guys couldn’t get into the field for two months due to wet weather. Some want to make aerial herbicide applications. Earworms are showing up in corn along with a few stink bugs. These insects are not yet at threshold, but there are high numbers of grasshoppers. Guys may need to spray the edges of fields to handle them.

“Soybeans look good but we’re still checking for stink bugs. Sorghum acres are down because it was too wet to plant at the right time. I’m not seeing many sugarcane aphids or midge in the sorghum that’s out there.

“The wet weather has kept many growers from finishing wheat harvest.”

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

“Most of the region has been blessed with additional rainfall the past few days. As much as 2.5 to 6 inches has fallen south of Amarillo on a Friona-Happy-Memphis line. Further south, from the state line to Crosby and Floyd counties, about 1 to 3 inches were received.

“Lubbock south has seen the most rainfall out of this event. Tuesday morning (June 29), West Texas Mesonet reported that Lamesa and Tarzan, through Gail and Fluvanna, accumulated as much as 7 inches in the past five days. While most of the crop will benefit from the moisture, there are reports around Lamesa of complete wipeout of fields from hail damage. There is more rain in the forecast through the July 4th weekend and into next week, so it may be a while before we can get in the field.

“With so much variability in our crop, I can’t make any generalized comments. However, as we start to dry out, two things come to mind. One is weed control. With additional moisture you can count on a new flush of weeds. Growers should be prepared to deal with that accordingly. Second, the more vigorous cotton varieties might want to grow rank. Pay close attention to the five uppermost internodes in the plant, which is the region that is actively growing.

“Use PGRs to control growthy plants. Remember two smaller applications usually work better than one big shot. Earlier is better than later, as long as conditions are conducive for growth. Avoid using PGRs if the crop is, or is likely to be, under stress.”

Jose Mendoza, Crop Quest Consulting, Northern Texas Panhandle: 

“Despite the cooler weather, cotton is progressing well. It has been squaring about a week in the Spearman and Perryton areas. We’re going with an initial shot of PGR and insecticide to protect the early squares. We’re seeing more fleahoppers than usual and need to keep them under control.

“Weed control is looking good. We made early Enlist or dicamba treatments and have been applying residuals since then. It’s about an even split between Enlist and dicamba cotton acres. Growers are being mindful of their neighbors who may have different herbicide technology. They communicate well with each other. There are no drift issues so far.

“The cool weather is not affecting cotton too much but the rain has delayed some PGR applications. The weather has helped the corn. It looks great, and sorghum is moving along as well. Wheat is probably 80% harvested. In the Morse area, irrigated yields are in the low- to mid-90s. There are dryland yields at 30 to 35 bushels. Much was initially cover crop, but with the rain and high wheat prices, many growers decided to keep it for grain.”


Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon: 

“It started raining again on Sunday over the northern Rolling Plains after a few showers last week. That came after two weeks of hot weather. It was too dry for some producers to plant. They finally finished in recent days. Some irrigated fields were even planted well into June. Overall the crop is probably about one week late. Growth is variable, with some at 4 to 5 true leaves and others with plants that just popped up.

“Cotton that is up looks good after the rain and soil moisture. Rhizoctonia was seen in a few fields due to the wet conditions. They just needed warmer temperatures. Weeds have been challenging. With the wet conditions, we didn’t have enough days to get into the field. We need to watch for weeds again after the latest rains.

“Wheat harvest is still ongoing after wet fields. Yields are good. Dryland variety trials showed 65 bushels. That was awesome. I had worried about preharvest sprout due to the rain but didn’t see much of it.”

Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: 

“We’ve been contacting growers to determine their final acres. As expected, acres are way down due to the cool, wet spring and higher grain prices. Much cotton has been torn out and planted in milo or possibly doubled-cropped with soybeans if the cotton herbicide program permitted it.

“I’m encouraged with what cotton we have. The later stuff that was planted into June looks quite good. But steady rain today and continued wet fields aren’t helping it. The later cotton is about 1 to 2 true leaves. The earlier planted cotton is squaring and guys are watching for fleahoppers.

“There are weedy fields, but guys can’t get into them to spray due to the mud. It could be hard to catch up, especially where pigweed gets out of control. However, guys who got their pre-emerge applied on time have cleaner fields. As in past years, there has been a little 2,4-D drift damage on dicamba crops. Guys need to stay within the label.”

Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan & Upton Counties: 

“Cotton is in fantastic shape, thanks to good, timely rains. We recently received anywhere from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. Dryland fields that hadn’t had water until planting are nearly standing in water today (June 29). There were a few stand issues where wireworms, cutworms and seedling disease hurt us. But what came up looks good, really good.

“Insects have been minor, with only spotty areas for thrips and a few aphids. We’re watching for fleahoppers, but the rain will help keep them under control.

“Weeds are our No. 1 problem. We’ve been battling them all spring and this month. Guys are applying post-emerges, Roundup and dicamba. Where we have PhytoGen, 2,4-D is going out. We’re seeing shortages of chemicals, especially Roundup. No one is running straight Roundup, but they prefer Roundup itself instead of generic glyphosates in their tank mixes with other herbicides.

“Corn and sorghum received rain at a perfect time. Corn tasseled well in the cooler growing conditions, and sorghum is just starting to boot. We’re happy at this point with cotton and the grains. We haven’t said that too often in recent years.”


Texas Field Reports for June 23-30

Texas Plains Cotton: Thrips Still a Problem in Later Fields, Be on Watch for Plant Bugs 

South Carolina Cotton: Aphids on the Rise, Look Out for Spider Mites 

Thompson on Cotton: Market Fundamentals Retake Control 

Projected 2020 Commodity Title Payments 

Biden Admin to Reconsider “Waters of the US” Definition, Associated Regs – Commentary 

Cleveland on Cotton: Market Speculating on Acreage Report 

Drought Monitor Weekly: Tropical Storm Brings Needed Rains 

Texas West Plains Cotton: Few Insects, Lots of Weed Problems 

Ag Committee Examines Disaster Aid – DTN 

DTN Fertilizer Trends: Only Minor Gains

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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