Midsouth Cotton: Hopes for a Warm Fall With the End Almost In Sight

    Cotton field at cutout. 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.


    Cotton gathered substantial heat units last week, but the crop is still a couple weeks late, on average, across the Midsouth. Fingers are crossed for a warm fall with little to no rain to finish out the cotton crop. A little early planted cotton in Mississippi is at cutout, so the countdown begins.

    Bollworm and tobacco budworm numbers are on the rise, already reaching the highest populations we’ve seen in years. This is just the beginning, but the southern regions are sending out treatments.

    High moisture corn harvest has started. Reports are a lot of the crops have rebounded from the less-than-ideal beginnings and look promising now – we still have hope for the cotton. No yield reports have been announced yet.


    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

    “Plant bug pressure is still extremely high in cotton in some areas. A few growers didn’t get control prior to canopy closure, which isn’t ideal because it’s hard to get the product in the plant once the canopy closes. Pressure has been extremely heavy most places, but it varies by the area. Around the Mariana area and south Arkansas are particularly heavy. Some have only sprayed twice while others have sprayed five or six times for plant bugs. Unlike recent years, we are still seeing adults coming into the fields in high numbers. This could be due to environmental hosts drying down, the excess late corn or another cause.

    “Like Georgia, our budworm numbers are rising. We’re getting 120 moths in a four day catch, which is extremely high tobacco budworm numbers for us. It can be a big issue in conventional cotton and soybeans. If you use a pyrethroid, you won’t get very good control.

    “We have a big bollworm flight in the south part of the state right now (Aug. 4). We’re kicking up moths in the field, and a lot of applications are going out. These applications are concentrated in the southern half of the state, but treatments are going out on two-gene cotton in the north-central part of the state too. From what I can tell, all the three-gene cotton is holding up extremely well with only minor damage.

    “Aphids appear to be declining in all the cotton. Likewise, I haven’t had many calls on spider mites either.

    “Bollworms are also high in the soybeans around the R2 to R3 stages that are not lapped in the middle. Numbers can be as high as one per sweep, which is high. With the current price of beans, our threshold is six or seven per sweep. One per sweep is four times threshold, but others might have seen even higher. Most fields are around threshold right now, and again, a lot of applications are going out. Most applications consist of Besiege and Prevathon. Some Heligen is going out on fields in the central part of the state where they caught them small and in low populations around three per 25 sweeps, and the virus seems to be working pretty good.

    “A lot of the earliest-planted beans are in the late R5 to early R6 stages, and we’re seeing a lot of green stink bugs move in, as high as one per sweep. Most soybean fields are right at threshold (nine to 12 per 25 sweeps). The populations consist of 90% green stink bugs with a few browns mixed in. We’re only seeing the occasional redbanded.

    “Loopers are building in the south part of the state. We’re starting to see up to one to one and a half per row foot right now. I think loopers will be an issue before the season is over.

    “Almost everyone has sugarcane aphids in their milo, and a lot of applications have gone out over the last two weeks. They really blew up in the past couple weeks. Several fields are also being treated for headworms in grain sorghum, so everyone needs to get out and scout their grain sorghum.

    “We’re treating fall armyworms (FAW) in a pasture today, but we have had some control issues with lambda with FAW populations this year. This is one of the biggest outbreaks of FAW I’ve seen in my years. They’ve caused a lot of damage in soybeans, rice and pastures. Pastures across the entire state are covered, and some pastures have had up to three applications to keep armyworms under control. I think they are easing up in rice, so there’s hope.

    “Rice stink bugs (RSB) are the biggest issue in rice right now. Although we’re not seeing huge numbers of RSB, they are consistent and persistent. We’re hitting threshold or two times threshold. I looked at some rice yesterday that had been sprayed twice already. It was getting close to 60% hard dough, but we had enough stink bugs he had to make a third application. Those fields were at nine to 20 per 10 sweeps, but our threshold for the last two weeks of heading is 10 per 10 sweeps.

    “We’re encouraging people to let us know if lambda applications are leaving nymphs in the field. We have a lot of rice to go, so we need to know if people are having issues getting control with lambda. There have been some inconsistencies with lambda and pyrethroids getting control of rice stink bugs, but we don’t have a lot of options. Tenchu is in short supply, so we need to know if we need to find growers another alternative to control these RSB.”

    Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi:  

    “Our cotton ranges from 15 to 20 nodes. Overall, it looks good. We do have some that is two weeks later than normal, but it will come out OK with good weather through August and September.

    “Insect pressure has been fairly normal in cotton. We have sprayed for plant bugs and aphids a couple times, and spider mites have required treatment in isolated areas. Spider mites really haven’t been widespread this year.

    “The south end of my area received a much-needed rain, but we are irrigating the northern fields after it missed the past couple of rains. We are really trying to stay on top of plant growth regulators. Some varieties require more PGRs than others, but we’ve stayed on top of it and are in good shape as far as that goes.

    “We’re expecting the second round of budworm egg lay any day now. We have to be diligent in scouting Bollgard II cotton for the egg lay. We sprayed all the Bollgard II for the first round of worms about three weeks ago (from Aug. 4), and we’ll be watching for the next flight over the next week.

    “A little over half of our cotton is Bollgard 3, so we hopefully don’t have to worry about worm pressure coming through on it. We did not have to spray any Bollgard 3 cotton for worms during the first flight, and we didn’t see any slippage. It held really well but don’t let your guard down.


    “We’re just waiting on the cotton to mature out now. Our early April planted cotton is already reaching cutout, but we will have to protect the younger planted cotton for a few more weeks. We don’t have as much at cutout as we would typically like at this point during the year, but what we do have looks good.

    “We really have two different soybean crops – the crop in the high parts of the fields that survived the floods earlier in the year and the second crop that had to be replanted because of the floods. The older beans are R6-R6.5, and the younger, replanted beans just have five trifoliate leaves starting to bloom.

    “We have treated some of the late beans for bollworms already, and we’re starting to pick up stink bugs in the older beans. A few treatments are starting to go out for the stink bugs. Insect pressure in the beans has been light overall, but we’re not finished yet. August usually brings a lot of different pests. We’re scouting for loopers and late season worms.

    “A lot of the corn is done and going into black layer with good moisture, and we’re irrigating the rest of it for the last time. A couple guys actually cut a sample yesterday (Aug. 3). Although little is at that point now, it won’t be long until harvest is well underway. The corn looks really good. We didn’t hit any pest issues in the non-Bt acres. Southern rust did move in, but the corn was far enough along it wasn’t affected.

    “The peanuts are 94 days old, and we haven’t had any major insect issues. The second fungicide with boron went out last week with another going out in 10 to 14 days. It’s been routine in the peanuts this year, but we are continuing to watch for any late season pests.”

    Matt Foster, Louisiana Extension Cotton, Corn, and Grain Sorghum Specialist: 

    “It’s been hot the past couple of weeks. The heat helped the cotton, but we did receive quite a bit of rain this week causing field work to halt. The cotton crop looks OK overall. There is some good-looking cotton out there, but most is average to below average. I think we will make a decent crop, but it’s not going to be a record breaker.

    “The success of the younger cotton will depend on the weather conditions this fall. Currently, about 80% of the crop is setting bolls, and we may have a few cracked bolls by next week. There is so much variation in the cotton this year. A wide range of planting dates, unpredictable weather patterns and heavy plant bug pressure has resulted in an extremely variable cotton crop.

    “Plant bug pressure has been really heavy. We’ve lost a lot of fruit to plant bugs, and I’ve heard of spray intervals as little as five days apart just for plant bugs. The perfect storm for a plant bug disaster was created when low vigor cotton varieties are near corn acres.

    “A lot of the cotton has underdeveloped root systems due to the wet weather, and I’m getting reports of it just growing ‘weird’ this year. I think environmental conditions have everything to do with this.

    “I’m seeing a little target spot, probably 1%. Potassium deficiencies are also popping up, but that’s common as cotton has a high potassium requirement. I’ve noticed the first fruiting branch is in the seven- to nine-node range this year.

    “We are seeing some bollworms pop up. Most of the two-gene cotton has been treated, but the three-gene seems to be holding well from what I’m hearing. I would guess DP 1646 makes up 40% to 50% of the acres across Louisiana, so guys really need to be scouting those acres to stay on top of bollworm applications.

    “People have started harvesting high moisture corn, but I think corn harvest will really fire up in the next couple of weeks. It seemed to take an unusually long time to dry down this year probably because of all the excess moisture over the entire year.”

    Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:  

    “We’ve had a good run of heat the last couple of weeks, and the cotton has really taken off. We are still two weeks behind schedule compared to a normal calendar year, but it’s growing well with a good fruit load.

    “Plant bugs have been steady, but we’ve done a good job of controlling them. Spider mites have been an issue all season with no end in sight. We’re doing all we can with the resources we have, which isn’t much this year. All the products seem to be working well by avoiding using one product too long.

    “So far, DeltaPine 2038, Stoneville 4550, Stoneville 5091 and DeltaPine 2127 are our top four varieties based on how they look right now. We have a decent crop, but we really need a warm fall to finish out the cotton.

    “We have started picking up a few bollworm moths and eggs in a few fields, but we’re probably 98% three-gene technology. Bollworms aren’t a huge concern for us this year. However, in the DeltaPine 1646 fields, which is the only Bollgard II cotton we have this year, we’re going to use Besiege in a week or two once we start seeing higher egg counts.

    “Target spot is common in beans right now, but most of our cotton is disease free. I’m seeing very low levels of target spot and bacterial blight in cotton. With the recent weather, it’s been perfect conditions for target spot. We’ve done a good job of keeping timely applications of Pix on this cotton, and I’ve always said Pix is the cheapest fungicide for cotton. Rather than spend money on a fungicide, we prefer to spend it on Pix to keep it shorter and still growing.

    “For the most part, all our beans are in reproductive growth. The latest fields are in R5, and we will be looking to let a lot of fields go in the next few weeks.

    “We went through the armyworm flight last week, but lambda and acephate seemed to work really well to control those. A few bollworm sprays have gone out on soybeans.

    “It’s been a good year for fungicide use because the price of beans is higher. I’m expecting a really good crop this year – especially the early bean crop. All the new and old varieties are performing well.

    “We’re monitoring diseases that might progress. Where we used Miravis Top, target spot is fairly low. It has worked really well. Anywhere we have gotten away from products with SDHI chemistries in them, we have more defoliating diseases. I have a few fields I’m worried about yield loss due to target spot. It will have to get really bad before we consider a second application.

    “We let our first corn field go today (Aug. 4). Fields are either getting watered now or will be watered one more time, but it’s out of our hands from this point in a lot of fields. Most of the fields we are letting go are 60% to 80% starch line.

    “We had more southern rust this year than in the past three years combined. It was a much higher infection rate this year, but we kept the levels very low with our fungicide program. I’m really happy with the way it performed.

    “I’m really happy with the way the corn looks. The fields we let go today are on a farm with drying capabilities, so we will start harvesting in two weeks. The rest of the corn is still about a month out from harvest. I’m excited to see yields. We’ve been blessed with a good crop considering the conditions it went through. I think this is the best watering we’ve done on row rice. We really prioritized fixing our dry spots, and it’s paying off now.

    “We will probably start looking to drain rice in the next week or two. It looks like a rice stink bug battle in coming, but we’re not seeing ultra-high numbers right now, which surprises me with the mild winter we had.

    “Armyworms have been the main issue in rice. It got to the point where there are more worms than you can count per sweep. We are so thankful the University of Arkansas filed for the Section 18 for Intrepid. We were still getting 80% with lambda, but with 400% armyworms that doesn’t cut it. Intrepid really toted that load and left us with minimal damage now. The rice is mirroring the corn crop right now. I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like a good crop.

    “RT 7321 headed out with really hot temperatures last week, but RT 7521 is heading out this week with the cooler temperatures. I’m expecting RT 7521 to show out this year because of the weather.

    “Peanuts have also rebounded from the rough start with seed quality issues and bad stands. They have vined out well and closed the middles. We have very little white mold and little disease overall. We were worried about the crop earlier in the year, but it looks good now.

    “Wheat prices are rising, so people will be talking about it soon. We just have to wait to see what prices will do though.”

    Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana: 

    “Last week was a good week for cotton. We finally had several days with continuous sunlight, and the cotton took full advantage of it. I would even say we are caught up with where we want to see the cotton in the last week of July ideally.

    “The cotton is back to maintenance mode right now waiting for it to finish up. Plant bugs are nothing out of hand; they are back to normal, consistent populations. We’re getting past the big plant bug fight.

    “Remarkably, this has been the first year I did not have to spray cotton for bollworms in the month of July. I’ve never pulled that off before, but I think the July flight just went to soybeans. We did spray a lot of soybeans but no cotton acres.

    “Areas received 1 to 6 inches of rain over the weekend into this week (Aug. 1 and Aug. 2). I started picking up a good bit of target spot low in the canopy yesterday (Aug. 3) on field checks. My cotton ranges from 4 to 6 NAWF. We’re starting to see the end in sight, and I have my ‘cutout calculator’ out to see how many heat units we have left.

    “The cotton crop is improving. It looks really promising in spots, but we’re just going to press on with our fingers crossed. I don’t need any more rain on most of my cotton. Over the past several years, I’ve told my farmers I don’t care if it rains a drop on cotton during August and September. I’d rather irrigate to make every pound of cotton from here out because too many things can go wrong with excess rain.

    “We’ve had a long stretch of having to spray bollworms in soybeans focusing on R2 to R4 beans. Some numbers did get high in spots, but we used a wide range of products, including Heligen, Prevathon-based products and Intrepid Edge.

    “I am starting to pick up more and more redbanded stink bugs (RBSB). In fact, I’d say they are doubling each week, but I haven’t had to spray any fields specifically for RBSB. I won’t be surprised if we are spraying for RBSB by the end of August as the older bean fields finish out.

    “Loopers are in the area, but a lot of them are likely held off by the Prevathon sprays that have gone out. I am going to be closely watching the fields that have not received an application for loopers over the next few weeks.

    “The corn is done. Some guys are starting to harvest high moisture corn, but the rain early in the week put a halt to that. I imagine by the end of the week we will be seeing more acres harvested. Early reports look pretty good, and I think this corn crop is pretty solid.

    “We had a pretty bad run with rice stink bugs. This has been some of the highest numbers I’ve ever encountered in early heading rice. Control with lambda was very sloppy, but we had a terrible time trying to locate Tenchu.

    “We’ll be on the downhill slide of the row rice in the next 10 days. I like to keep it wet a little longer than I would pull the drain on paddy rice, but it’s really close to the end. It feels like we’ve been farming this crop for two years.

    “Of my 19 years consulting, this year has been a challenge to maintain a schedule. Two weeks this entire year I have been able to follow through with my plan for the week, but the other weeks it has been too wet here and too dry there or another combination of issues. It’s been wet enough I wished for horses some days. We need a dry, warm fall. I don’t think we can take more of the six inches in a weekend anymore.”

    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.

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