Midsouth Cotton: Cotton Hasn’t Been Let Loose But Harvest Is In Full Swing for Other Crops

    Photo: Alabama Cooperative Extension

    Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

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


    Last pest applications are going out on cotton before it’s turned loose. The end is definitely a welcomed sight this year.

    Corn and grain sorghum harvest are well underway, and soybean harvest will soon follow. Cotton is still a little behind, but more acres are getting cut loose every week.



    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist: 

    “The cotton is starting to reach the finish line. I haven’t talked to anyone cutting any loose, but with some areas reaching triple digits all week, the cotton will move along quickly. If not this week, we will see a lot cut loose next week. Guys are ready to see that.

    “There’s not much going on as far as insects go. Some guys trying to set the top crop are battling plant bugs, but it’s hard to kill plant bugs in August. They have been exposed to everything all season. Most see a lot of success with ULV Malathion this time of the year, and I even have a few growers and consultants who routinely use it as a final cleanup shot every year. They are always happy with the results. The biggest challenge is the pilot having a way to put it out.

    “We have a few worms here and there, but the flight is really over. Worms typically dwindle around August, but we do have very localized cases pop up occasionally. Spider mites have also shown up in a few isolated fields.

    “More beans get desiccated every week. Early forecast models are predicting Louisiana could experience a tropical weather event next week (as of Aug. 25). That will greatly impact growers’ decisions to desiccate. Guys who are able are working really hard to get all the corn and soybeans out they can.

    “Defoliators are starting to show up in the later beans. I’m getting mixed reports of soybean loopers and velvetbean caterpillars. The loopers are being found in smaller pockets while the velvetbeans are a little more widespread, which is consistent with population levels in previous years.

    “Fall armyworms have either defoliated the world, or they are moving farther north away from us. I haven’t gotten a call about them in a couple weeks, and I see the pattern of them moving north.

    “Grain sorghum and corn are getting cut as soon as everyone can get in the fields. Soybean harvest will be quick to follow. It’s that time of the year, and hopefully the end is in sight for the cotton as well.”

    Scott Stewart, Director of West TN AgResearch & Education Center, Jackson, Tennessee: 

    “We hope to be making our last application for pests in the cotton. We’re really close to our drop-dead date. Any applications after the first few days of September are questionable based on typical heat units left in the season before we’d expect a killing frost.”

    “A small flush of bollworms forced some growers to spray Bollgard II cotton, but the Bollgard and WideStrike 3 held up nicely. Earlier maturing fields have already passed NAWF5+350 DD60s.

    “In later cotton, stink bugs and plant bugs are still around in a few places, so we’re trying to clean everything up. This week will likely be the last application for many growers if they haven’t already finished.

    “With a couple of recent hot weeks, our late crops have mostly caught up, but we are hoping for good September weather.  Unfortunately, a big migration of adult plant bugs back in early July hit a few areas pretty hard, a few more warm weeks might help make a top crop.

    “Soybeans are a little more active. Loopers, cloverworms and bean leaf beetle populations are spotty but present in many fields. We’ve had a few corn earworms in our later beans. It’s nothing crazy, but a few treatments have gone out. Stink bugs have also been building, especially green stink bugs. We’re running into these typical late season issues in beans, so we need to keep sampling vigilantly until at least R6, if not a few days longer.

    “Fall armyworms (FAW) have been a continuous battle. We are right in the middle of a second wave of FAW in our pastures, and it looks like we could have a third wave come through. They are also hitting bermudagrass lawns. It’s been a reoccurring issue this year. In most soybeans, armyworms are mostly in the field edges where they’ve migrated from grassy borders. There have been a few fields that needed treatment for armyworms or a complex of defoliators.”

    Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University:

    “We’ll likely see some defoliation start going out in the next two weeks on the earliest-planted cotton. It’s well past cutout. If you’re counting heat units, defoliation triggers 850DD60s past 5 NAWF. Some cotton could be there by mid-September, but the bulk of our cotton will be harvested in October. I know I’ll be picking in November.

    “The cotton is still behind schedule compared with other years. The end of July and August were good to us in terms of heat accumulation, but the cotton is running two to three weeks behind normal. Everything has been tough this year. We have an average to decent crop if we can just finish it out.

    “The decision to protect the top couple of nodes is heavy on everyone’s mind right now. Historically, today (Aug. 25), give or take a day, is the last effective bloom, which has a 50% chance of making it to a harvestable boll. Should we get an early cool front, a lot of this later-planted cotton could be in trouble. We pushed back planting dates, insect pressure has been high and we missed a lot of heat units early in the season. We really need the weather to cooperate over the next few weeks to finish out the cotton.

    “A lot of the older cotton actually looks really good, and some of the younger cotton has come on and looks nice too, it just has a lot of young fruit. We had a lot of rain and cloudy weather over the weekend (from Aug. 24). We shed a lot of fruit, and it really set us back. You never want to make a late crop later.


    “Insects are still a problem across the state. All Bollgard II cotton has been or still is being sprayed for bollworms. All the cotton planted in the early planting window is past economic insect damage and insecticide sprays.

    “Our cotton acres have dropped a little since the beginning of the season. Currently, we’re somewhere around 475,000 acres. After the flood, late planting and everything else we’ve faced this year, I think that’s still a good number. In March, our projected cotton acres were 525,000, the July USDA report stated 490,000 and the most recent report from 10 days ago reported 475,000 acres. We’re down about 10% from last year’s acres.

    “Most of the cotton wasn’t directly affected by the flood to the same degree as the other crops. It was indirectly impacted by the saturated soils, poor root systems, cloudy weather and nutrient deficiencies.”

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

    “We’re ramping down the cotton. I’ve cut loose of 50% of my cotton, and I’ll only have a little later-planted cotton left after cutting loose of a substantial number of acres next week. A lot is getting watered for the last time, and insect sprays are getting terminated.

    “We are cleaning up quite a few plant bugs in cotton here on the tail end of the season. Our cotton is all Bollgard 3, so worms haven’t been an issue all season. We did see a few aphids pop up, so we used Transform when treating for plant bugs to knock out both. We treated a few cases of spider mites through last week.

    “We are rolling up the pipe for all of our older soybeans. We’ve had a lot of stink bugs in the early-planted beans in the past two weeks (from Aug. 25). A couple weeks before that, we were fighting bollworms pretty hard in the late beans.

    “We have a lot of bean leaf beetles, and the closer you get to the levee, the worse they get. We have treated more than I normally treat. We have numbers ranging from 200% up to as much as 500%. In 10 sweeps, we’ll get 50 to 60 bean leaf beetles, which is much higher than I typically see.

    “Loopers are pretty mild, but I have sprayed one field. Saltmarsh caterpillars are present but not at treatment levels.

    “All the corn has been let loose as of this morning. We are cutting a lot of corn where we have dryers, and the yields have been phenomenal so far.

    “Peanuts are on the last fungicide, and we have had a steady stream of bollworms and fall armyworms for the last month. We’ve basically been treating them every other week. The peanuts have a couple waterings left.”

    “We haven’t had any rice cut, and I’ve only let go of maybe 30% of my rice. If it’s green, it’s got a lot of stink bugs in it. Treatments are going out on a lot of the rice for rice stink bugs.”

    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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