Midsouth Cotton: Rain Picks Back Up, But No One Is Complaining

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Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

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

OVERVIEW

Rain continues over much of the Midsouth providing a break from many pests for some but creating difficulties with Pix applications. Many areas saw rain for four days straight over the weekend, and there’s more in the forecast for this weekend. Just as the cotton was starting to pick back up, more water.

For the most part, pest pressure is light, including bollworms. Plant bugs are still consistent in most areas, but some have reported declining populations in Louisiana. The focus is back on the rain, allowing sprays to go out if populations build.

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CROP REPORTS

Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:  

“Thirteen days into July, and we have already had over five inches of rain this month. This is the first time in my long career I’ve ever prayed for 10 days of dry weather in the middle of July. Luckily, we got a lot of work done in anticipation of the rain as far as plant bugs, weed control and plant growth regulators go. What we have put out has worked well, but we need back in the field. However, the forecast shows more rain. This is the fifth day in a row we’ve had rain (as of July 13), and the forecast calls for more this weekend. We are supposed to get three pretty days between now and then. A lot of sprayers will be running to catch up once it dries up. Our Pix rate has gone from 12 ounces up to 20 ounces.

“Cotton has started to bloom. I expect all the cotton to be blooming by the end of this week. Last year, all our cotton bloomed by the fourth of July. It takes about three weeks from first bloom to get to peak bloom, and we want to carry the blooms three more weeks after that. Ideally, we will carry blooms until the end of August, so we’re hoping August will provide some rain. The long-term forecast shows we should have, again, above-average rainfall for August.

“There will be a dry period, and we will catch up. At that time, we will decide what needs to be done in terms of the next management step to help the cotton.

“We’re spraying plant bugs still. What we have sprayed has worked really well. We used a robust rate, which we feel gave us some residual. In our area, clover is a very attractive host for plant bugs. If they have the opportunity, they will leave the cotton to go to clover in the Tennessee Valley. They move back and forth between cotton and clover, so we expect more sprays to go out once it dries up.

“Corn and early soybeans look excellent except in the lower ends of the fields that sat under water too long. We have beans that were planted the first week in April that survived the frost, and we anticipate harvesting those early beans at the end of August if the weather cooperates.”

Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist: 

“The weather is one extreme to the other. We’re usually desperate for rain at this point in the year, so I’m not going to complain about it. However, it makes any kind of field work, entomology work included, tough.

“We are still in the midst of a very large plant bug flight out of corn. Depending on the location, some are seeing numbers subside and others are seeing numbers increase. It depends on what is around your area. Blooming crops and any CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) ground around you makes a huge impact, and nearby corn is going to be a big driver. One grower near a lot of CRP ground reported plant bugs just boiling out of those acres. It’s to be expected this of the year. In serious pressure areas, spray intervals have been tightened to every four or five days to control adult plant bugs. With the amount of corn acres we have, it’s just a tough year. Some soybeans are flowering, so those acres are pulling out a lot of plant bugs too. It’s still an uphill battle against plant bugs.

“On the other hand, I haven’t had the first bollworm call. Typically, we should be knee deep in bollworm flight, calls and egg lays. I think this is due to the cotton crop being about three weeks behind. Bollworm pressure is light everywhere. I’ve talked to guys in the northeast part of the state that have looked at an estimated 1,000 ears and only found three worms. Our worm pressure in the environment in general is light, especially for the northeast part of the state.

“Little worm pressure in cotton is multifactorial. Light populations in the environment to begin with paired with the lateness of the crop and excess attractive acres in other crops, we’re just not seeing large egg lay in the cotton. We have a lot of grain sorghum acres this year, and a lot of it is starting to head right now. Soybeans range from V3 to R6, so the staggered soybeans and attractive grain sorghum could be saving cotton from taking the brunt of the worm pressure. There are just so many other crops that are more appealing than cotton to the bollworms right now.

“Despite being hot and dry for a while, I haven’t had any calls on spider mites. We did catch a rain before the dry spell extended too long, and the best miticide is a rain.

“I’m not seeing a lot of issues with cotton aphids either. After the rains passed through after that dry spell, the Fungus showed up and aphids really dropped off. A lot of Transform is going out for plant bugs, so cotton aphids don’t stand a chance.

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“I got another report of fall armyworms in a pasture today (July 14). I think it’s still the same issue with the grass strain we saw earlier where pyrethroids were a total miss, so there are still lingering populations of fall armyworms around that can be difficult to control. Most got grass under control in soybeans, but it’s important to know they are still around.

“Sugarcane aphids are picking up in grain sorghum. I did see some evidence of Fungus controlling the aphids, but they are rebounding. I also saw some fungus-dead aphids on grain sorghum, but live colonies were coming in right behind it. The Fungus was enough to control very localized aphid populations but not enough to control populations in the environment. In addition to sugarcane aphid sprays, midge and headworm sprays are going out on grain sorghum. It is one of the more active crops for me right now, and I think that goes back to grain sorghum pulling a lot of bollworms away from the cotton. Guys are then having to kill them in grain sorghum.”

Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi: 

“Every crop has had its challenges, but I think cotton might prove to be our biggest challenge. Our cotton is late. So late we’re concerned we might not get the heat units to mature out a decent boll load before frost. We hope to see blooms by July 20.

“Growth regulator rates have been particularly challenging because of inconsistent plant size. We had fields with 10-leaf cotton that were ready for Pix, but low areas of the field still had 2- to 4-leaf cotton that we didn’t want to hit in the head with a hammer.

“Plant bug numbers have been low. We have treated a few fields, but we have been able to ride populations until we applied a growth regulator in many cases.

“We are starting to pick up some aphids in cotton, but we are seeing evidence of the Fungus, so we’re not going to be aggressive with any treatments until we see how the Fungus progresses.

“Corn is the highlight of our crops. We have a really good ear, good pollination, a healthy stalk and plenty of moisture right now. We feel like we have an outstanding crop this year.

“Soybeans are all over the board. We have R5 beans, wheat beans that are V1 and replanted beans from the floods that are still emerging, so we have a huge range of growth stages in beans.

“We’re a little apprehensive about the sweet potato crop. We’ve had way more rain than is good for the crop, but we really won’t know the yield or quality of the crop until harvest.

“That’s the thing with sweet potatoes; you can’t see the yield, and a shovel will lie to you.  We know we have a decent corn crop and an above-average soybean crop, but we’re in the dark when it comes to sweet potatoes.

“We’re not complaining about rain in July, but we would prefer it in moderation.”

Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi: 

“It hasn’t quit raining it seems like. Our crops are big enough now they can take the excess moisture. As short as the root systems are, we don’t need any extended dry spells, so consistent moisture is ideal for us. It hasn’t rained in the same places every day, but it’s rained in the area every day since Friday (July 9 through July 13). I can’t remember a summer with this much rain. It’s been crazy.

“I have a few fields beginning to bloom and others just starting to square from being so water stressed. They are still stunted pretty bad, but those plants are starting to come out of it. Most of our cotton is in the second or third week of squaring. I should have a lot more blooming this time next week.

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“Aphids have been really spotty, but we are seeing the Fungus start to show up. Consequently, aphid numbers are starting to crash. Plant bugs haven’t been at the same level they have been the past couple of years. I’m not sure if that’s due to the above-average rainfall or what, but I’m not complaining about light plant bug pressure.

“I’ve seen one moth so far. This is about the time we typically see them really pick up, but there’s nothing for them to get right now.

“We are starting to put out Pix when we can. If the ground is too soggy, we’re making applications by plane. As wet as it is, growers can’t get into 80% of the fields until Saturday. With the rain today (July 14) that might push that back even more, and rain is in the forecast again for this weekend.

“I’m not disappointed it’s quiet, but I know that will change soon.”

Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana: 

“Early last week, we were looking for a little rain. A widespread rain finally came for most of northeast Louisiana, but then scattered showers continued for four days straight (July 9 through July 12). Everyone got at least a little rain. I think the amounts varied from 1.5 inches up to 4 inches of rain over the weekend. We didn’t need quite that much, but the forecast is full of sunshine for the next few days (from July 13). Hopefully, things dry up and we can get back in the fields. On the bright side, some growers never had to lay out polypipe on some irrigated corn acres. They made the crop without irrigation.

“Cotton looks really good. A lot of Pix is going out to keep it that way, too. Most of our cotton is blooming, and some of the earlier planted fields are in the second or third week of bloom.

“We’re fighting plant bugs on a lot of acres, but it’s hard to control anything when insecticides are washed off an hour after an application from a pop-up shower. Quite a few plant bug applications went out last week and more will be going out this week. It never stops, but hopefully plant bug numbers will reduce soon with the corn getting closer to finishing out.

“Bollworm moths have been spotted this week, but it is still very isolated. I looked at one field yesterday (July 12) that had a pretty good egg lay that will likely get a diamide application. I imagine we will start seeing more moths and eggs next week.

“A lot of our rice is getting early boot fungicide applications for smut control or fertilizer work, and weed control is still a priority in the younger rice. Overall, the rice is in pretty good shape with limited insect pressure currently. I’ll be looking at some rice later this week that is heading out, so I’ll assess if we have any rice stink bugs then.

“One of the positive outcomes of all the rain is some growers are able to forgo the last irrigation they thought they were going to have to make to finish out the corn. We’re just waiting on the corn now. Some acres are at black layer now, and I expect the majority of our corn acres will be at black layer in the next couple of weeks.

“We’re just starting to pick up some stink bugs in the soybeans. Other than that, we really haven’t experienced high insect numbers in the beans so far. The main thing going on now is cleaning up weeds in the younger beans and getting fungicides out. As pests usually do, we’re just waiting on them to pop up.”

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

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