Cotton defoliation is starting in Louisiana, Arkansas and other areas. Although too soon to know for sure, many are optimistic about yields compared with the projected yields in July. Hopes of dry weather for the remainder of the season are high, and September is off to a great start.
Rice, corn, soybean and grain sorghum harvest continues. Peanuts are drawing to a close with the last watering for Arkansas soon.
Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:
“The past three weeks have been pretty incredible. We have really closed the maturity gap, and I feel much better about our yield potential now. It looks like we might have an opportunity to pick much more cotton than most of us expected when evaluated at the end of July. It may not be the crop we saw last year or the year before, but we have very good potential if we can get decent weather through the first couple weeks in October.
“We haven’t quite seen the heat we would like, but we have had very timely rains. Although cool, the forecast looks promising too. At night, it’s getting into the 50s, but those upper most bolls have captured several consecutive days of clear, sunny conditions.
“From a management standpoint, we are pretty much walking away from all but severe insect infestations. It proved to be a fairly light bollworm year but a tough plant bug year.
“Although I am ecstatic how far the crop has come, I am concerned about a couple things coming up on defoliation. We are going to be pushing right up to the back end of our typical defoliation window, so that will raise the necessary rate of defoliant. Pair the later crop with drought-like conditions, and there’s a chance the crop could harden off and be less receptive to defoliants.
“When we get into a drought period, slightly more aggressive defoliant rates are sometimes needed to get to the acceptable level of leaf drop. We have gotten a couple rains that will help. South of I-40, we received good rains out of Hurricane Ida, and north of I-40 received good rains last weekend (from Sept. 8). This is just something to keep in mind as we roll into defoliation.”
“We are starting to defoliate some cotton, desiccating a lot of soybeans and cutting rice. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re happy to see it.
“The eye of the storm (Hurricane Ida) was supposed to come right over our general area. Everyone was pushing really hard to harvest everything they could in the days leading up to Ida. We actually got a rain the weekend before Ida hit that brought more rain than the one rain we got out of the hurricane. This area might have got half an inch out the rain from Ida. We fared very well, and guys were only out of the field for a couple days.
“Everything at that time was shutting down, so we weren’t looking for a rain. With everything wrapping up, we will be 98% done with harvest if we can get clear skies for the next six weeks.
“Corn yields have been excellent so far. Of course, there are a few exceptions, but I’ve heard a couple guys say this has been the best corn crop they’ve ever cut. We haven’t harvested a lot of beans, but what early beans we have cut have also been really, really good. One customer cut some rice before Ida, and yields were consistent with the corn and beans – really good. Yields are good; we missed the brunt of the storm. We’ll be in really good shape if we can get cotton defoliated and picked before the next storm.”
Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas:
“We’re defoliating one cotton field today (Sept. 8), and everyone will probably be doing some by next week. All insecticides have been terminated for a while now.
“Corn harvest is around halfway done, we’ve turned loose of all the rice and we’re down to the last few wheat beans and some late-planted beans left. We ended up having to spray soybeans for loopers in the last 10 days. Milo harvest is also well underway.
“Corn, rice and early soybean yields have all been very good. Milo yields have been average to good. Although there hasn’t been a lot to cut, there haven’t been any disappointments.
“The last watering is coming up for the peanuts, and that puts us digging around the last week of the month. We didn’t get hardly any rains from Ida. We’re pretty dry right now, but we’re definitely not complaining.
“Everything is wrapping up for the season. Seeing bottlenecks at the elevators is always a promising sight.”
Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:
“The cotton is slowing down. There are a few insect sprays still going out, but my phone has been pretty quiet compared to the number of calls I was getting. I get a stray call about plant bugs occasionally, but everything is definitely starting to shut down. We’re accumulating heat units, but a lot of our cotton was bloomed out of the top even two weeks ago. The cold fronts are a welcomed addition, but the September heat has been awesome for the crop.
“My main focus has been in soybeans. Soybean loopers are definitely out there, but we’ve had cool, humid mornings, which often lead to a rise in natural virus populations. We have seen natural looper populations decline seemingly overnight lately. It’s quite common for this time of the year with cold fronts starting to move in.
“Velvet beans and green cloverworms are hanging around. Populations aren’t anything major. Guys are getting them under control if they don’t eradicate naturally. Although stink bug numbers have been very low, redbanded stink bugs are also starting to rise in certain areas depending on the age of the beans. They spike in a couple areas and fall with treatments. A lot of the older beans are already desiccated if not already harvested. With the heat units we’re collecting, we’re desiccating more every day. No pest is showing to be a widespread issue.
“We missed any adverse weather from Hurricane Ida. We did record a couple 50 mile per hour wind gusts, but nothing incredibly damaging. We got less than a tenth of an inch of rain from the storm in this part of the state.”