|Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:
“Plant bugs are really heavy in some areas of Mississippi. It’s not every acre by any means, but some acres have been extremely heavy with adult plant bugs moving in. It’s taking a lot of sprays to keep these adults in check. Some cotton that isn’t even blooming yet has received three or four sprays. It’s unfortunate, but we’re having to treat aggressively to maintain square retention.
“We’re about a week into the bollworm flight. We’re just getting into it, but a lot of areas have seen heavy egg lay and several treatments have been made.
“Aphids were really building in some areas, but several consultants have reported the Fungus in several counties. We’re watching to see if the Fungus spreads, so we’re trying to hold off on treating those acres for aphids with hopes the Fungus will spread.
“The big story is still fall armyworms in soybeans and pastures. We’re only getting 40% to 70% control with pyrethroids in beans and pastures alike, which is unusual. If armyworms are less than half an inch in size, we are recommending adding a couple ounces of Dimilin to a pyrethroid. If the worms are over half an inch, we’re recommending adding 4 ounces of Intrepid. We do have other options such as Prevathon, Besiege and Intrepid Edge but a lot of the affected beans are really small. People don’t want to spend the money on diamides, so we’re suggesting other options.
“Armyworm pressure has been unreal this year. We haven’t seen numbers like this since 2014, but I think they are worse this year.”
Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:
“We have received a significant amount of rain the past few days (from July 20), so I’m expecting pretty aggressive applications of plant growth regulator to be applied. We are close to 75% bloomed and the rest probably will be in the next week.
“We’re also seeing plant bug numbers increase. In some areas, we actually have really high numbers. Retention has started to slide a little. Although we can compensate by adding a fruiting position higher on the plant that takes more time. Losing a fruiting position is tough – especially on a late crop like this.
“It’s July 20, and cotton is still 2 to 3 weeks behind where it needs to be. The last effective bloom date is just around the corner. We will soon have to decide how long to protect flowers after the last effective bloom date knowing the chance of putting those fruiting positions in the basket drops below 50% after that date.
“At this point, we have not closed the maturity gap like I would like to see, and I am a little concerned about yield potential at this point to be honest. Stretches of hot and dry weather, to some degree, could help us close that maturity gap. Heat speeds maturity. I don’t want to fuss about rain in July, but this much rain has not been ideal for the cotton.
“It’s a challenging year. Trying to retain first position fruit and speed maturity in conditions out of our hands is not easy. We just have to work with it. This year will be known for a lot of things, but at this point, I don’t think a ‘cotton year’ will be one of them. Again, we do have an opportunity to have a warm fall and negate all these challenges.
“Growers will know what yield potential could be with a few more weeks of flower, but they also know the expense associated with protecting flowers that bloom after the last effective bloom date. Do you step up to the table and roll the dice, or do you walk away with what is in your pocket? The decision will be different for everyone, but it will have to be made in the next couple of weeks. The crop does still have time to mature, and there are opportunities for it to make up for some lost time.”
Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana:
“Since planting, we’ve had a lot of rain in southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana. I think we might have got one third of our cotton planted this year. Corn has been hurt pretty bad by the wet weather, but it’s coming on now. We’re still a few weeks away from anyone trying to harvest any corn.
“Pests have been light so far. Plant bugs have been a pretty consistent issue in what little cotton we do have, but they have been light this week (July 21). It was an uphill battle early in the season. We have sprayed a couple fields for spider mites. We are finding worm eggs and moths, but we haven’t made any applications so far.
“Most of the cotton around here is two to three weeks late. Some of it is just now blooming, and I wouldn’t say any of it is in peak bloom right now.
“We have had to spray for armyworms in soybeans planted into weedy fields. Stink bugs haven’t required an application yet. Although I’ve found a couple redbanded stink bugs, most of what I’m finding is the red-shouldered stink bug. Southern green stink bugs, which we used to have, seem to be prevalent. I’m just finding juveniles right now, but we might have to spray for those next week if they start moving across the field.
“We have been seeing signs of potash deficiency, but it is really early for that. Foliar applications are going out for that.
“It’s July 21, but it looks like June 21 based on the crops. Things are starting to pick up now, but we’re worried about how we’ll come out this year. From April 1 to June 15, it rained 29 days. Rain has been the biggest challenge this entire year. We’re not complaining about it but farming around that much rain is a challenge. It has also played a big part in chemical choice. It has been critical to choose something with good rainfastness this year.
“We have two pests we just can’t get rid of it – hogs and deer. We have them by the hundreds. Three nights ago, a grower set up a camera on a 200-acre soybean field and caught 70 deer grazing across it. They’ll tear up 30% or more of a field easily. Little 50-acre soybean fields get to the point it’s not worth it to harvest because deer keep it eat down.”