Southwest Cotton: Hot Weather Helps

    Irrigated cotton filed in the Concho Valley of Texas. Photo: Haley Kennedy, Texas AgriLife IPM Agent

    Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

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

    The dog days of summer have arrived in much of west Texas and the southern High Plains as 100-degree temperatures are on tap for parts of this week. There’s hope the crop will catch up on heat units.

    South Texas defoliation is underway where fields have also struggled to finish out due to the wet spring and summer.

    Plenty of PGRs are being applied to manage growthy plants threatening to get out of hand. Look for more iron in the fields to manage weeds in some no-till crops after shortages of herbicides.



    Stephen Biles, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Victoria, Calhoun & Refugio Counties: 

    “Things are looking pretty good and we’re pretty much finished with any insect pest pressure. Most fields have open bolls. Growers are starting defoliation in the mid-coast area. Rain the middle of last week forced us to push back a harvest aid trial. We’re hoping for favorable weather as we get ready for harvest.

    “Wet weather much of the spring and summer will alter yields. They will vary based on drainage capabilities of a field. While certain fields drained well, others had plants standing in a lot of water.

    “Average yields will likely be in the 700- to 800-pound range. But that will include yields that top 2 bales and others that struggle to make a bale. Our hope now is that we don’t see a tropical storm as we get this crop completed.”

    Loren Seaman, Seaman Crop Consulting, Hugoton, Kansas: 

    “It’s warming up and that’s what we need. Cotton is still a full week behind by as much as 100 heat units. But it’s better than it was about three weeks ago. A week of temperatures in the high 90s will help.

    “Higher humidity has promoted strong growth in dryland fields where soil is well fertilized and has good organic matter. It has forced us to apply twice as much Pix just to stop excessive vegetative growth. We’re now on our third shot of PGR. We need more heat to keep it from growing so fast.

    “Most cotton is at 17- to 21-leaf and into mid-bloom. Growth will slow once larger bolls start forming. We would like to see 1-inch diameter bolls, but few fields have even one that size. Down in the Oklahoma Panhandle near Guymon, cotton is further along. It’s starting to flower out the top.

    “Insect pressure has been light after having to spray for fleahoppers. Even in corn, we’ve found only one corn border egg. We wouldn’t spray even if it were non-Bt. The corn crop looks good, but we still have about five weeks to go. Soybeans are over waist high after all of the rain.”

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

    “We’re still behind, but it looks like a lot more cotton will be harvested than we anticipated going into the planting season in a drought. These extra rains in May and throughout much of the summer have made a big difference.

    “Growth looks good and is at mid-bloom after the slow start. We just need more heat units and a delay in the first freeze. The crop likes the 90-degree temperatures we’re seeing.

    “We’re watching closely for insects. There are quite a few grasshoppers and we’re starting to see a little more overall insect activity. Growers are trying to determine if there will be a big insect rush. There may be more preventive measures to help maintain the good-looking crop.

    “Weeds are finally under control by and large after early July rains brought on big flushes. Sprayers were running in high gear to control weeds. Thankfully, the chemical shortage doesn’t seem to be as bad, but there are still tight supplies across the board. Now, we just keep hoping for more heat and a late freeze because the crop looks better than we expected early on.”

    Joe Renfro, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Southwestern Oklahoma: 

    “Unlike other parts of Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, there is dryland cotton in southwestern Oklahoma that needs a rain this week or it might not make it. Early planted dryland looks good, but other stuff wasn’t planted soon enough to take advantage of timely rain.

    “Fleahopper damage has hurt the yield potential for much of the irrigated cotton, but it will be a fair crop. I’ve seen fleahopper damage in all cotton I’ve checked. There aren’t many bolls down low.

    “There are still a few weed issues, more so in no-till cotton planted into wheat. The reason is the shortage or high price of Roundup. With that, there are a lot more plows running. To me, it’s nice seeing a little iron out there.

    “While dryland cotton is in trouble, dryland sorghum has the chance for a nice crop. Early milo is turning red. Later-planted milo still looks good. We’ve had to spray armyworms and bollworms in sorghum next to a cotton patch. I haven’t found any sugarcane aphid so far.”

    Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill County: 

    “Recent rains have benefited cotton in this part of the Blacklands. A lot is at 5 NAWF and much has bloomed out the top. There’s potential for an above-average crop. It depends on how well a field drained during the long rainy spells in May. Some growers say this crop could be among the five best crops they’ve ever seen.

    “Insects have been quiet after stink bug pressure in late July. They were treated and remain below economic threshold. Aphids are popping up where we treated for stink bugs. Their numbers are below threshold, and we hope a return of beneficials will help keep them that way. We don’t need any sticky cotton issues.

    “I did pick up light bollworm damage on a field of 2-gene technology cotton. There wasn’t enough damage to justify spraying.

    “Corn and milo harvest operations are well underway and will be at full speed heading into mid-August.”

    Kyle Aljoe, Crop Quest Consulting, Dimmitt, Texas:

    “We’ve been behind all summer and we’re still two weeks behind on heat units. Overall, the crop is trying to reach mid-bloom. Normally, we would be close to peak bloom or blooming out the top. A few fields suffered hail damage during scattered thunderstorms in isolated places.

    “Good weed control has paid off. Fields are pretty clean. With the added rainfall, we’re running more PGRs to keep plants from getting out of hand. As we get further into August, we’ll probably run harder with PGRs because any fruit set after that won’t do us much good.

    “Both 2-gene and 3-gene Bt varieties are handling insects right now. But I know there have been treatments for bollworms in non-Bt cotton up near Vega.

    “Corn is from 6-leaf to the dough stage and looks good. We’ve sprayed spider mite infestations and some growers are making preventive sprays for them. We’ve been fighting armyworms in grass corners and weeds to prevent them from moving into fields. I scout fields of coastal Bermuda and millet. I had to spray twice for armyworms in millet in Lamb County. They are scattered in sorghum, but I’ve treated younger sorghum fields. There are also traces of sugarcane aphids in sorghum.

    “Silage harvest is still two weeks or more away for use by feedyards and four to five weeks away for dairies.”

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

    “I’m optimistic about our crop. Stuff in Yuma should see pickers in the field soon. Most of that cotton has received its last irrigation and will see defoliation within a week. It won’t be a barnburner year, but yields will be average to slightly above average.

    “In central Arizona, the crop looks good, and we have the chance for strong yields and can set flowers into September. The crop also looks good over in the southeast.

    “Growers are monitoring fields for southwestern cotton rust. With so much rain across the state from the active monsoon season, there is a lot of growthy cotton. That increases the possibility of issues with boll rot; growth management is needed.”

    Mark Hatley, Crop Quest Consulting, Dumas, Texas:

    “All crops are looking good. In cotton we’ve made good progress with maturity. Most fields are at mid- to late-bloom. Bolls are starting to fill. Weeds are mostly under control. Fields are clean because herbicides worked better. Rain helped incorporate residuals, and cooler temperatures and higher humidity helped activate all herbicides.

    “Irrigation and PGR management is vital at this stage. Juggling irrigation between corn and cotton is challenging. Corn is doing well. Cooler weather and the ability to keep it wet helped ears fill the grain. It’s mostly in milk-to-dough stage.

    “Milo also looks good. Those grain crops like the more moderate weather. But for cotton, we need more warm weather and an open fall to finish the crop.”


    Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan, Upton Counties: 

    “Many fields look good, but others didn’t quite get the square set we anticipated. Most has been blooming over two weeks but a few fields are late to bloom. They are a concern because the average final bloom date is August 28.

    “The majority of the fields range from 6 NAWF to complete cutout. The late stuff has fleahoppers hanging around. One non-Bt field needed spraying for bollworms, and we hope that will control them. However, the worms are moving out of corn and sorghum and could be an issue.

    “Weeds are finally under control other than the need for spot sprays or hoeing to take out escapes. With temperatures warming back up, we could use a rain to help finish the crop, especially on dryland.

    “Corn is drying down and harvest should begin soon. Sorghum looks good, but there are sugarcane aphids to deal with. We’re trying to outrun them on early sorghum, but the later sorghum may need spraying. Watermelons and cantaloupe look good across the area.”

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

    “Our cotton is no longer susceptible to economic damage by plant bugs and bollworms at 350 degree days, or heat units, past cutout. It’s no longer susceptible to economic damage from stink bugs at 450 degree days past cutout. We’re still seeing mostly brown stink bugs, green stink bugs, leaf-footed bugs, lygus bugs and tarnished plant bugs. But they’re also no longer a threat this late in the season.

    “Most cotton is starting to crack, has bloomed-out or is at around 2 to 5 NAWF. Later replanted fields are just past cutout. Grain crops are mostly out of the field. Sorghum yields have mostly been poor due to sprouting and the wet conditions we had earlier, but our corn yields have mostly been fair to good.”

    Gary Beverage, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Artesia, New Mexico/Southwest Texas: 

    “We’ve had good cotton weather, and the crop is coming along well. Temperatures are in the 90s during the day with lows in the 70s. Those temperatures and good, sweet rain are great for the crop. Most of our cotton is mid- to late-bloom. There is a good boll load. Weed control is holding up well.

    “Most cotton is 3-gene Bt. We’re still not seeing much insect pressure. Everything else is quiet in cotton. However, there has been heavy armyworm pressure in sorghum and sorghum Sudangrass. Sorghum hasn’t headed yet. I haven’t seen any sugarcane aphid but it’s still a little early.”

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

    “While I estimate some of our crop may be as much as three weeks behind, I don’t think we can ignore the fact that it looks great. I’ve seen pivots running and some good looking irrigated cotton out there. Much of the dryland I’ve seen is in great shape and seems to be developing well.

    “There are places where cotton is shallower rooted than normal, but considering that most of this crop has not had to work very hard for water until now, it is quite understandable. Fields on their second week of bloom seem to be fruiting well with very few aborted positions. This again makes me hopeful that we have a good crop with lots of potential.

    “There is no doubt we are still quite a ways out from being able to claim anything, but if Mother Nature cooperates I believe this will be a good year for our region. And we are due a good one.”


    Texas Field Reports: Prices, Conditions Promising for Peanut Growers 

    Texas Plains Cotton: Pests Mostly Quiet, Watch Late Fields for Fleahoppers 

    Thompson on Cotton: Strengthening Demand Ahead of USDA Numbers 

    Texas West Plains IPM: Sugarcane Aphids Confirmed; Keep Scouting Cotton Fields 

    Weekly Cotton Market Review – USDA 

    Cleveland on Cotton: Lagging Exports Not a Sign of Weak Demand 

    Drought Monitor Weekly: Monsoonal Activity Benefits Southwest

    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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