Midsouth Cotton: Wet Conditions Continue, But There’s Still Hope for a Good Crop

    Photo: University of Tennessee

    Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

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


    More rainfall across the board makes for an abnormal July following suit for the first half of 2021. No one is complaining, but concerns are growing about the ability to make timely Pix applications.

    Cotton is blooming across the Midsouth, but the last effective bloom date is creeping up. Many acres have been blooming for a couple weeks now but hopes of a perfect fall are high. Unfortunately, so are concerns for less-than-perfect yields. The next few weeks will be filled with big decisions.

    Pest pressure is still light giving hope to the late cotton. Plant bugs are the focus in some areas but light in others. Scattered applications continue to go out to control adult plant bugs. Stink bugs and bollworms are picking up in Louisiana, and Mississippi is still fighting fall armyworms in some fields.



    Trey Bullock, Bullock’s Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi: 

    “I have cotton from fifth node to eighteenth node and in the second or third week of bloom. A good buildup of aphids crashed about two weeks ago from the Fungus. Plant bugs are still really light in parts of my area.

    “We have some eyesores, but with as much rainfall as we’ve had in the past two months, we’re OK overall. I don’t even know how much rain we’ve gotten. We finally quit counting. It’s just unreal. We received 1.5 inches today (July 20), 2 inches yesterday and the list goes on for at least four days straight now. However, being in south Mississippi has its advantages. Luckily the sandy soils are handling the excess rain well. Growers are getting pessimistic, but I hardly ever give up on a cotton crop. If it has a fighting chance, it will work out.

    “Our biggest issue is not being able to put out growth regulators because the fields are wet. Cotton is growing too fast and losing squares from the rainy and cloudy weather every single day. Thank goodness insects are low because other than maybe a day per week, we couldn’t do anything with them right now.

    “Square retention is OK. We looked at cotton today with no plant bug issues, but it still had a lot of blasted squares. We would like to see some sunshine.

    “It’s been a crazy year. We never finished planting because it stayed too wet. We tried to finish right before that tropical storm blew through, but looking back, we never should have tried to finish. The potential is still there.

    “We have another few weeks before temperatures around here drop below 60 degrees. We’ve planted a lot of cotton in previous years on June 15 that did fine. The issue this year is the cotton has had wet feet all season delaying growth more. I won’t complain about rain during the summer, but it hasn’t been nice to the cotton. You can’t do anything when it’s dry. If it’s wet, you still have hope. I won’t complain about rain.

    “We are having a few issues with fall armyworms in peanuts. We haven’t been able to keep our fields as clean as we like because we can’t get in the field to spray. I looked at several fields today that have a lot of worms, so we really need a break in the rain long enough to take care of those.

    “My oldest peanuts are 90 days old. They are a little delayed from staying wet, but again, the sandy soil is tolerating it really well. We are behind on fungicides, which is my biggest concern. We’ve put some out, but it hasn’t been as timely as we’d prefer. To add to the stress, we did have that tropical storm that could have brought in leaf spot, and our rotation is off from a wet planting season. I haven’t seen any disease issues, but the conditions are perfect for leaf spot. Our peanuts look alright for now.

    “We are blessed to be where we are even with a late crop. I’ve seen cotton here planted the fourth of July yield 1,100 pounds, so I’m not too concerned yet. Every farm I have has a few acres that won’t be good. It’ll make something, but not every single acre will be spectacular. For the year we’ve had, I think a few bad acres here and there is pretty good.

    “I have June 1 planted cotton that has never had a shot of Roundup over it. It’s red stemmed and 5 inches tall, but we can’t get to it. That’s not the norm, but every grower has a little like that. My youngest cotton was planted June 21, and we started in late April. I have cotton fields with three plantings. It’s been a year for the record book for sure. I recommend turning to Hebrews 4:16 in times like this. It brings joy and a promise in these challenging times.”

    Bob Griffin, Griffin Ag Consulting, Jonesboro, Arkansas:  

    “My earliest cotton is in the third week of bloom and the youngest should be blooming this week (June 21). I don’t have much that hasn’t bloomed already.

    “Plant bugs are the biggest concern in cotton, and it seems like that’s been the case all year. I do have a few fields that have not been treated and several fields that have only been treated once for plant bugs, but that is not the case around most of the corn.  Around corn, I’ve made as many as four applications on the older cotton already. The average is probably three sprays in fields adjacent to corn.

    “I’ve treated a couple fields for spider mites, but it’s not widespread. Rain usually will help clear them out a little, so we’re hoping to see them fall back a little.

    “Aphids are building a little, but we have not made any treatments yet.

    “The cotton was really slow growing early in the season because it was under a lot of stress with rain and cool temperatures. We were extra hesitant to put out growth regulator early on, but it’s like a switch was flipped two weeks ago. After all the rain, we couldn’t get in the field to put any Pix out when we needed to. A lot of Pix went out last week that got washed off, so we had to do it all over again.

    “I probably have 1,000 acres that is early, but most of my cotton is just in the first couple weeks of bloom. We need the stars to align to make a full crop on every acre. Right now, everything looks pretty good. We just have to keep our fingers crossed for a perfect fall, but I know we’ve already given up full potential yield on some of my younger cotton acres.

    “A big thing right now is assuring the cotton does not get delayed at all. We must have nitrogen fertilizers out to control growth and really watch thresholds so pests don’t stress the plants. We don’t need to start treating if we don’t have any insects, but we must be timely with applications. Pix applications need to be diligent. It’s a delicate balance between stressing out the plants and letting it get out of control. There’s not much demand for ‘cotton hay.’ Irrigating on a schedule can be a killer. Assessing when soil moisture is depleted is key. We must water on time but that is decided by the plants not a schedule.

    “My youngest soybeans are at V5. I haven’t had any issues with fall armyworms, but my wheat beans are a little older than what I’ve heard the fall armyworms on. I know armyworms are in the area though.

    “My oldest soybeans are at R5.5, and we will likely quit irrigating them in two to three weeks. Stink bugs are building in the older beans, which is always the case. Only one field has been treated for stink bugs.

    “Around 90% of my beans received a fungicide application at R3.5, and the beans look tremendous. The earliest beans are chest high, pretty much weed free and look great. We fought weeds like crazy early in the season, but it’s under control now.

    “Corn ranges from the dough stage to full dent. I expect some will start to develop starch line by next week. Most of the corn looks awesome. I don’t want to jinx it, but this is some of the best corn I’ve had.

    “The weather has been all over the place. About a month ago, we got 6 to 8 inches of rain in one day.  A week later, it was rainy and cloudy every day. Although the cotton hated it, the corn and soybeans loved it. The next three weeks we never saw a drop of rain. Last week, we got around 4 inches of rain, which was perfect timing and just enough to not be irrigating now. Scattered rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. The temperatures are perfect for cotton. During the night, we’re dropping to 70 degrees and the days heat back up to 90 or so. Those are cotton growing temperatures.”

    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.”

    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.

    Mailing address: Farm Journal, 8725 Rosehill Rd., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215
    ©2021 AgFax Media LLC

    The Latest

    Send press releases to Ernst@Agfax.com.

    View All Events

    Send press releases to Ernst@Agfax.com.

    View All Events