Southwest Cotton: Cutout Has Commenced

Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

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

Cutout has commenced in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and western Arizona. Most other regions are ready for sunshine and high heat units to catch up. Continued rainfall in West Texas has a dandy dryland crop in the works.

Egg lays are here or coming and spell trouble for any varieties not three-gene Bt. IPM Agent Kate Crumley has the details. Stink bugs and fleahoppers are also a menace for many.

Resistant carelessweed and Kochia remain tough-to-tame yield robbers.

PGRs proving more vital this season as plants face a more narrow growth window after excessive rain and cool weather.



Kate Crumley, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Jackson, Wharton & Matagorda Counties: 

“Most Upper Coast cotton is 6 to 9 NAWF. The later replanted stuff is starting to bloom or will be this week. Fleahoppers are virtually out of the picture with advanced plant growth. But we’re checking for stink bugs and bollworms in almost all our cotton.

“The bollworm egg lay has stayed fairly low. However, everything we’ve looked at has at least a light number of eggs. It’s not uncommon to find small larvae or eggs in flowers and bloom tags. There are also bollworm larvae feeding and entering bolls either on the very tip of the boll or along the seams of the bolls. This makes the entry wounds more difficult to find, but the damage is easy to see if you pop open the bolls.

“We recommend scouting the top third of the plant, but it’s important to also pull bolls and flowers lower down to check as well. The bollworm economic threshold is 6% damaged bolls with live caterpillars present. In areas with documented Bt failures, the threshold for eggs on single- and dual-gene cotton is 20%, or 20 plants out of 100 with at least one egg. We need to scout second-generation Bt varieties, which often break down in controlling bollworms.

“Brown stink bug pressure is increasing, and many growers sprayed for them over the weekend or will this week. Their threshold is 20% or more of the bolls with internal damage and stink bugs present.

“Most sorghum is wrapping up and will be getting a burndown application soon. A few later fields are still coloring. In late sorghum, we still need to check for midge, sugarcane aphids and headworms. Spraying for midge involves the use of pyrethroids, which can flare sugarcane aphids. That and dry weather could cause sugarcane aphids numbers to rise. I’ve not seen high headworm populations yet, but we do need to be scouting for them.”

Chris Locke, CSL Consulting Inc., Sudan, Texas/Eastern New Mexico:

“This crop is across the spectrum. With all the rain, late dryland is at 4 to 6 nodes and looks like it’s going to work. The most mature irrigated is at 10 to 12 nodes. It’s looking to bloom July 12 to 15. There are all kinds of scenarios between those examples. Square sets are 90% or higher. Overall, we’re still behind. We’ll try to make up some ground with Pix. With this crazy year, we’ll even Pix much of the dryland.

“Weed control has been successful. But it has been wet the past seven days, so we’re staring at a big flush of weeds. We have to work around tight supplies of herbicides and other materials. Liberty and Roundup supplies have been short and Roundup took a big jump in price. I still have a little milo to plant and seed is also in short supply. I may be looking at haygrazer instead.

“Insects remain calm. I’ve seen a few fleahoppers but haven’t needed to treat anything.

“Corn looks promising after struggling before the rain. The oldest corn is 2 to 2.5 weeks from tasseling. The youngest is at 7 to 9 leaves. There’s still some wheat in the field to harvest. Carelessweed has been an issue, which is resistant to Roundup.”

Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County: 

“Cotton is in good shape. Timely rain has helped the crop and we’re setting bolls at the bottom of plants. Insects seem to be quiet, but we’re running into weed problems. Roundup-resistant pigweed is more and more of an issue.

“Sorghum is maturing. There are a few midge outbreaks on undeveloped heads. Corn is denting and we should be harvesting corn and sorghum in a couple of weeks. Peanuts are about two weeks behind.”

Mark Hatley, Crop Quest Consulting, Dumas, Texas:

“Cotton looks good, but it needs to get on with it here in the northern Panhandle. We’re one to two weeks behind on heat units after all the cool, wet weather. We’re applying PGRs to help manage the growth. We’re applying them with insecticide to handle fleahoppers.

“Weeds are a big problem. Depending on the technology, we’re applying auxin herbicides along with residuals. We don’t want weeds to get out of control. We’re also monitoring closely for disease in cotton and corn. The wet conditions could cause problems.

“The cooler weather has helped the corn — it is beautiful. The earliest planted should be tasseling over the next 10 days. Sorghum also looks great. Weeds are a problem, but there are no insect issues. Wheat harvest is still a concern. The wet weather has put us way behind. I hope I don’t see any sprouting in the heads. It needs to dry up for wheat harvest to finish. I can’t remember ever seeing weather like this in a July 4th week.”


Robert Flynn, New Mexico State University Extension Soils/Agronomist, Artesia:

“We’ve had about 6 inches of rain the past few weeks, which is abnormal for southeastern New Mexico this time of year. With the added water, a few fields have leached nitrogen because plants are a little yellow.

“Plants are at about 8 nodes and squares are forming. Some fields have already bloomed.

“I haven’t seen any disease, but we’re watching for southwestern rust after all the moisture. Weeds management is the main task, but most fields are clean.

“I haven’t seen any severe insect damage, but we can’t let our guard down. What we need now is more sunshine for cotton and other crops.”

Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas:

“We’re still wet in spots after spotty showers in recent days. Humidity remains high and it’s steamy. But the cotton has turned around and is loading up. After beneficial rain, it has had enough sunshine to perk up. It’s finally blooming and looks good.

“We’re trying to apply PGRs between showers. We need to manage the rank growth but can’t get in the fields because they’re too wet. Fortunately, guys have done a good job in controlling weeds. We hit them hard with the whole ball of wax. We’re nearly past the time we can apply the over-the-top chemicals, so we’ll make layby applications if guys have the equipment.

“Insects are light, but we expect a big egg lay. I saw many moths last week but no eggs materialized.

“Corn is finishing up fast and harvest is two to three weeks away. Sorghum is turning red in a hurry. We dealt with headworms a week ago and are seeing a few stink bugs this week. There are no aphids to speak of.”

Joe Renfro, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Southwestern Oklahoma: 

“Cotton looks really good if we can keep fleahoppers out of it. Everything is wet. What it needs now is direct sunlight to help it catch up.

“The dryland will be squaring next week. It’s at 4 to 5 leaves. After the rain, we’ll even see PGRs go out on some dryland. The irrigated crop is excellent if we can hold on to it. Guys have been able to keep fields pretty clean, but there are issues with carelessweed where guys made a smaller application of dicamba. They’ve had to go back in and hit with a heavy shot. Volunteer cotton is bad in many fields. We’ll need to be ready for more weeds after all of the rain.

“There’s more corn this year and it looks good. I had to spray for stink bugs and aphids in some cornfields. Dryland milo is outstanding. Some is heading out and other fields are knee-high. Everything just needs to dry up. I’ve walked through a lot of muddy fields this year and the creeks around Duke and Hollis are still up and running.”

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

“Valley cotton is starting to look a lot better in color and seems to be coming along fine after the high rainfall we’ve had. What cotton that’s not in full bloom has just entered cutout and boll loads look good. Some cotton was looking thirsty before this week’s rain showers and benefited from them.

“Most fields are clean of major insect pressure after being treated for lygus. There are a handful of whitefly adults and a few fleahoppers are present, but the majority of fields are clean. Growers should note we’re seeing western flower thrips in and around blooms, but they don’t harm cotton. Nevertheless, we are monitoring for Chilli thrips, but we have not found them or evidence of damage.

“We’re also monitoring for Verde and tarnished plant bugs since there are many immature bolls. A few tarnished plant bugs have been seen in non-treated fields. Don’t mistake plant bugs for green adult lacewings, the beneficials present in cotton as well as in sorghum.

“Sorghum harvest is showing yields of about 3,200 pounds per acre for dryland and 6,500 pounds for irrigated. Fields not yet harvested should be monitored for sugarcane aphid to determine if treatments are needed.”

Colton Bison, Director of Agronomy, Parmer County Cotton Growers, Inc.: 

“This area has received close to 4 inches of rain the past two weeks, which really helped the crop. Even last night (July 4) we received a half-inch across about everything. The dryland needed the moisture after starting to stress early on. It has turned around and is just starting to square. The irrigated enjoyed help from showers as well and is also squaring.

“Many growers are spraying for fleahoppers and there has been no damage to speak of so far. Weeds were tough in the beginning when it was hot and dry. Herbicides couldn’t get activated. Our area has a wide range of herbicide technologies. Guys are using Enlist, dicamba and Liberty, along with different tank mixes that work for them. To manage plant growth, we’ll likely see PGRs go out a little earlier than usual.

“With the good rain and a strong cotton price, we could have a heck of a year.”

Loren Seaman, Seaman Crop Consulting, Hugoton, Kansas: 

“We’ve had good rain, but wouldn’t mind more heat in southwest Kansas. We’re about 10 days to two weeks behind and short about 200 heat units. I wouldn’t mind if it got back into the mid-90s for a full month. About 10% of the crop started squaring a week ago. The remaining 80% to90% is just starting to square this week. Stands are pretty fair, and plants are running at 6 to 9 leaf.

“Weed control is good. Since we’re dealing with Palmer amaranth and Kochia, we have to run a mix of Liberty and Enlist Duo. That’s about the only post-emerge program we can get to work.

“We may need to apply PGRs after the good rains. We generally don’t go with PGRs until plants are at 10 to 12 leaf. We’ll then check internode distance and make recommendations based on that. Typically, we look for 1.5 inches between the 4th and 5th nodes down from the top of the plant. If the distance is smaller than that, we wait another week. Irrigated cotton usually has better soil fertility because the field was likely planted in corn before. That can impact growth more than dryland fields that may not have as much fertility. If dryland doesn’t get much rain, we don’t use PGRs.”


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

“Amarillo and Lubbock are running about 40 and 100 heat units behind, based on a May 15 planting date. Although weather has been rather cool for this time of year, with good availability of soil moisture and hopefully some open weather, we should see cotton taking off the next few weeks.

“The crop looks good for the most part. Certain pockets have been damaged by hail, but it seems complete wipeouts from the storms were more localized rather than widespread. With rains over the holiday weekend and earlier, we will see weed pressure the next few weeks. It will be important to keep an eye on them.

“We’ll need to manage for earliness. Where it’s appropriate, growers should use PGRs to their advantage. They need to set realistic yield goals, not so much for how much moisture they have, but keeping in mind the season length and how to advance the crop.”

Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: 

“We finally received monsoon moisture, as well as added rainfall from the tropical storm that broke up down in the Gulf of California. Scattered showers topped 1 to 1.5 inches in lowlands. We had better rain in the mountains, where over 4 inches fell in areas. That will help fill up reservoirs and our watershed.

“Out west, Yuma cotton is on the tail end of the bloom cycle. It was 4 to 5 NAWF last week and is close to cutout. They’re about three weeks from the final irrigations. That area faced heat stress two weeks ago, but there is still 60% fruit retention after temperatures over 115.

“We’re looking at the high teens this week in central Arizona, where stuff is approaching peak bloom. Southeast production is similar, but some younger stuff is still not at bloom. A few growers have even double-cropped cotton after harvesting wheat about June 1.

“I’m sure we’ll see weed pressure after the rain, especially around the edges of fields. Insect pressure is still light.”


Texas Plains Cotton: Be on Lookout for Fleahoppers 

Texas Blacklands Cotton: Pest Activity Remains High 

Texas LRGV: Sorghum Harvest Underway, Few Pests in Cotton 

West Texas Cotton: Insects Quiet, Weed Control the Order of the Day 

Texas: 3 Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas to Winter Storms 

Thompson on Cotton: Demand Strengthens as Supply Remains in Question 

Weekly Cotton Market Review – USDA 

Cleveland on Cotton: Speculator Sell-Off Quickly Rebounds 

USDA Announces July 2021 Lending Rates 

Drought Monitor Weekly: Widespread Expansions and Reductions 

NOAA Drought Outlook Monthly – July 

DTN Fertilizer Trends: Slow Climb Continues

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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