The weather is cooperating with some areas more than others. East Louisiana and Arkansas are experiencing perfect harvest weather, but it’s been raining in south Mississippi for four days with another week of rain in the forecast.
Early planted cotton is ready for defoliation in most areas and has started in Arkansas. As soon as rain lets up, south Mississippi will be defoliating, harvesting soybeans and treating late leaf spot in peanuts.
Yields for all crops look good, but Hurricane Ida has impacted prices and timeliness. Talk of cover crops and wheat planting is ramping up.
Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana:
“We’re so fortunate with the September weather so far. It’s been warm and dry, and the crops are responding well. We really had too much rain in August to maximize cotton yields. Hanging on to the top crop has been a struggle this year with foliar diseases. However, we have a really respectable crop now. We need to get the cotton out of the field and have the weather cooperate for the rest of the season.
“About half of my cotton is ready for the first shot of defoliation. A lot of my guys want to defoliate by ground this year, so we’re held up a little by manpower with everyone harvesting corn and beans. I expect some defoliation will go out by the end of this week since the rain has held up.
“I wasn’t too impressed with the corn crop a couple months ago, but once we got into it, it was just ‘heavy.’ We have been very pleased with the corn crop, but we were ready to get it out. Some guys have made their best corn this year. Of the acres I checked, corn harvest is over.
“Soybeans are moving along. Our yields range from mid-60s to mid-80s depending on the field. A lot of my beans were not watered this year because we really didn’t need to, but they all finished out very well. We’re about to wrap up the earlier-planted April beans. We’re moving into the May beans now, so we may see a slight drop in yield with the later planting dates.
“We are still battling a few lingering stink bugs. We sprayed a lot of beans in the last few weeks, so I expect to see a resurgence in the next few days. I expect the majority of stink bugs moving forward will be redbanded stink bugs (RBSB). Currently, we are seeing low to moderate RBSB pressure. Populations of brown and green stink bugs have dropped off drastically.
“We have had to water a few of the late-planted soybeans over the last week. We had pretty low humidity in addition to dry north winds, so we watered one last time to keep the beans going a little longer.
“Rice yields seem to be good. Most of the rice I scout goes into bin storage, so we don’t know exact yields. The rice crop dried down as fast as I have ever seen. We typically like to start cutting at 22% to 24%. We started cutting this year at 18%, and one guy said he was cutting rice at 9%. I’m pleased with the yields, but a lot of our rice succumbed to wind damage from Hurricane Ida.
“Milo is about average. There are a lot of 100-bushel milo fields. Of the later-planted milo, we’ve sprayed everything for aphids except the aphid-tolerant varieties. Midge has been average. We had a lot of uneven heading, which probably caused us to spray one extra time for midge.
“We need good harvest weather to get the rest of the crops out and get some field work done. I have guys planning to plant cover crops and even talk of planting wheat. Hopefully prices will stay at a profitable level while inputs stay affordable. I have heard talk of fertilizer prices going up almost by the day, so I’m interested to see how that will affect our fertility programs.
“The basis at the elevator has widened quite a bit since Ida hit. I know some of the barge traffic was held up, and the New Orleans ports were slow to get back on track. Some of the profits were washed away by this – the basis gapped by 60¢ to 70¢ in less than a week. That has been really frustrating for everyone.”
Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:
“Our cotton has really come along with the dry weather we’ve had. September has been great, and USDA actually bumped up their yield estimates. Prior to this year, four of our best yielding years have been in the past five years. The season started off rough, but it looks a lot better now. Hopefully we will continue the high yield streak.
“We’re defoliating the earlier-planted cotton. It’s not made until it’s in the basket, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. It’s nerve wracking, but we always do better when the year starts off rough and gets better. It’s really hard to start with a great crop, peak halfway through the season and watch it fall apart without being able to save it. Exactly like a good football game.
“We have good pricing opportunities right now, which is a huge plus. I’ve heard of potential for even better prices but look at how much everything else has gone up. The world we live in today is crazy.
“The quality should be really good again this year. A lot of the varieties we used have excellent quality. Almost half our acres were DP 1646 last year, which has an excellent fiber package. It is probably our fifth ranked variety this year. DP 2038 is our top variety this year. Although it doesn’t quite have the fiber package 1646 does, it certainly isn’t a variety with a crazy high MIC. It’s so important to capture the quality we have in the field. We sure don’t want to lose any of that quality.”
Trey Bullock, Bullock’s Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi:
“We’re drowning. It’s rained the last four days, and the forecast has at least a 60% chance for us through next Thursday (from Sept. 16). I know we’ve got at least eight inches in the last two days alone.
“We fared pretty well through the last storm (Hurricane Ida). We got around nine inches of rain out of Ida. It caused some boll rot, and some cotton was just cracking, but we get boll rot in south Mississippi just from our humidity without any rain. A lot of out cotton wasn’t open then, so it wasn’t devastating other than some beans and a little corn got laid over. The rains we’re getting right now is going to cause more damage than Ida even thought about doing.
“This is my 26th year of consulting, and I think we had one of the best overall cotton crops I’ve ever seen this year. It’s devastating to watch one of the best crops slide off and not be able to stop it. I don’t even want to go look at the crops. I know how weather like this affects cotton – open or closed. But it won’t just impact the cotton — the beans ready to harvest will take a hit too.
“We’re probably ready to defoliate 20% to 30% of the cotton if we could get around the rain. Defoliation recommendations were set to go out last Friday (Sept. 10), but it started raining and hasn’t quit. The rest of the cotton is still late, so it could turn into a blessing for those fields.
“I quit scouting for any insects about a week ago in cotton. We had a couple stink bug applications go out last week to tidy up a few fields, but we’re done with cotton.
“Peanuts range from ready to dig to 40 days out. Late leaf spot has gotten absolutely horrible in the past two weeks. We’re hoping to keep leaves on the plants long enough for them to mature out, but the weather as killed us here too. We haven’t been able to spray for anything. Luckily, pests have been next to nothing in peanuts so far. The peanut crop was the same as cotton in that it was just a really good crop across the board.
“My soybeans range from R5.5 to harvest. Of the little we’ve been able to harvest, the dryland yields have been really good at 70 to 80 bushels. We sprayed pretty much every acre of late beans for velvetbean caterpillars and loopers last week. We need sunshine, but it doesn’t look promising for the next week. The sun will shine again eventually.”