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Owen Taylor, Editor
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Here is this week's issue of AgFax Southeast Cotton.
This season's reports are exclusively sponsored by SePRO, manufacturer of Brake® Herbicide.
Thrips pressure continues, particularly in the lower Southeast. While it may be peaking in places, foliar treatments are still being made. The heaviest numbers and damage tend to be in earlier planted cotton, although several of our contacts say that the insects are still hitting young plants just after emergence. Better growing conditions should help push more of the crop past the thrips window.
Planting is wrapping up in more places this week. The deadline for full crop insurance coverage is approaching in certain areas, so farmers are steadily planting where they can. Next week decisions will be made about how much of that remaining cotton acreage will shift to other crops.
Weather conditions are mixed. Rains and cool temperatures led to more delays in a number of areas. In parts of our coverage areas last week, 2 to 4 inches of rain fell. On the other hand, portions of the region remain dry.
MIND IF WE CALL?
We’re always expanding our list of contacts, the consultants, dealer personnel and Extension workers who provide the reports that go into this newsletter. If you would like to occasionally provide a report, please let me know. We would call once ever 4 weeks for a brief report on cotton and other crops you work. If you have questions, feel free to call me at 888-327-6329. – Owen Taylor, Editor
From Our Sponsor
Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama: “We’ve just finished planting cotton in places and one of my largest farmers should finish tomorrow (5/25). It had gotten dry and he quit planting at one point to wait for a rain. We got a half-inch last week, and he’s been able to start up again.
“Our oldest cotton is at about the 4-leaf stage. We’ve done a little thrips spraying. Thrips pressure really isn’t heavy – just kind of at a normal level for us. Grasshoppers developed early in places but we included a light rate of a pyrethroid in the burndown application before planting. The grasshoppers were still small, so they were easy enough to control.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia: “We’ve got thrips, a lot of thrips. They’re probably as bad as I’ve seen them in 15 years. They developed in some early tobacco fields and in places we’ve probably taken a 50% loss. We have limited treatment options in tobacco, plus that part of the crop was planted early and those were the fields that really caught heavy thrips pressure.
“Our cotton is probably 70% planted (as of 5/23), and the biggest is probably at 5 to 6 leaves. We’ve been over most everything with a thrips treatment. What I didn’t treat, I now wish I had. The weather is nice. We got big rains last Tuesday and last Thursday. In places, it totaled 3.5 to 4 inches, and we’ll have to replant some peanuts where the rain came right behind the planter. Valor damage in peanuts also was bad in places after that big rain.”
Christy Hicks, Auburn University Regional Extension Agent, Opelika, Alabama: “We’re still planting cotton. It rained 0.6 to 0.8 of an inch in places the other day, and that was needed where some cottonseed was dusted in. Plenty of thrips pressure has developed in cotton and a lot of acres already have been sprayed. Guys in my area do a lot of automatic acephate sprays, anyway, especially where cotton was planted early.
“Some growers can get away with not making that application if cotton was planted a little later, but at times those plants definitely won’t be pretty. If damage isn’t significant enough to cause yield loss, they probably won’t worry. Sometimes they miss making an application at 1 to 2 leaves when they have a lot of acres to cover or other things going on.”
Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina: "We had that nasty fall weather over this part of the Southeast. It was bad here but certainly worse in South Carolina, and that misfortune has somewhat followed us into spring with weather delays when we needed to be in the field.
“We’re still planting some cotton. We actually caught a really warm streak early and started planting cotton in April, which we rarely do. But then it got wet and cold and a fair amount of that cotton had to be replanted. A lot of guys got 5 to 6 inches of rain 2 to 3 weeks ago. With all that, we’re doing a little more replanting than usual, plus we’ve had to contend with all the delays, so very little of our cotton has a true leaf yet.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: "Even though I thought thrips pressure had peaked, they’re killing plants in some of our untreated plots. That’s 35 days after planting. Thrips may, in fact, have peaked in places, but we’re still seeing damaging numbers where seed treatments weren’t used, to the point that some plants don’t have a single leaf now. Weaker seed treatments also are taking obvious damage.
“We have the fifth true leaf out in some plots, and at that point you don’t worry about thrips. Overall, though, that cotton looks pretty ugly.
“Most growers in central Alabama have sprayed cotton that’s at the first true leaf. A fieldman in the Wiregrass called this afternoon (5/25) and commented about how heavy thrips were and that a foliar spray was only holding for about a week. Overall, this is some of the heaviest pressure there in 6 or 8 years and nothing is giving satisfactory control for very long.
“That said, the most valuable tool in dealing with thrips is still a foliar spray in early-planted cotton that’s under heavy pressure. You’ll get a high return on your investment. That’s not to say seed treatments aren’t needed. Without a seed treatment in this kind of pressure, you’d have to spray thrips on a five-day interval to maintain control, and nobody has the manpower or equipment to stay on that kind of schedule. Plus, you’d risk flaring spider mites.
“As a side benefit, the overspray is likely taking out thrips that are resistant to seed treatments, which could prolong that chemistry’s usefulness for a few more seasons.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “As far as thrips go, the most susceptible cotton this year was planted in that last week of April and into the first week of May. A colleague in Georgia seems to think that’s the case on a big part of their crop, as well. We had a cool snap last week and a lot of rain, so maybe that beat thrips down some. But we’re right at the point now when we should detect a peak. Last year the peak was May 25 and today is May 24. We’ll see how the numbers go.”
Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University: “We’ve got really good weather today (5/24) after another unfavorable day yesterday. The weather is supposed to be nice through this week. People are planting as much as they can where they can. Tomorrow is the cutoff day for full crop insurance coverage for cotton here.
“Of what we intended to plant, 80%-plus has been finished, although we expect some replants and part of that acreage will likely go to soybeans now. At this point, some growers who intended to plant more cotton will continue planting over the next couple of days, use the seed they’ve ordered and then finish up with beans. We have thrips issues here and there, but we expect that to turn around any day now with sunny, dry conditions and better plant growth.”
Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia: “We’re probably 60% to 70% finished with cotton planting (as of 5/24), which is about normal for us at this point. We actually started out a little ahead of normal this spring but then ran into a couple of rain events that slowed us down. We had gotten pretty dry but then last week it rained from three-quarters of an inch to 4 inches in spots. As dry as it’s been lately, all that moisture is getting sucked up pretty fast.
“Thrips are jumping on cotton as it comes out of the ground. This has been a tough spring to start a cotton crop. A cold snap caught us in the first week of May after a lot of people started planting cotton in April. That part of the crop struggled to emerge. Stands were below average, especially on heavy and red dirt.
“Between stunting and thrips damage, we held off on applying residual herbicides because we were concerned about killing weakened cotton plants. About all we could do was spray Roundup to get that first weed flush, plus apply foliar fertilizer to help move plants along. Temperatures are hitting the high 80s right now, with some 90s coming, and that should help us catch up on heat units we’ve been missing. We’ve had lows down in the lower 60s and 2 little cold snaps lately, so accumulations dropped to nothing.
“Our peanuts are 60% to 70% planted. We’ve done some spraying for thrips, which have been bad in peanuts, too. We’ve even found thrips in the whorl of some corn, although that really doesn’t seem to cause any problems that the corn can’t come out of on its own.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “Based on what I’ve seen and reports from the field about thrips, it seems like seed treatments and in-furrow treatments are mostly holding.”
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Virginia Cotton: First Plant the Crop and Second – Pay Attention to Thrips 5-25
Cotton – Southwest – Wet and Messy Planting Delays, But Also Good Weather News 5-25
Virginia Field Reports: More Rain, More Delays, More Problems 5-24
Farm Equipment: Trading Up? Be Careful of Painful Tax Surprises – DTN 5-23
Georgia Field Reports: Rains Bring Needed Moisture, Planting Delays 5-23
South Carolina Field Reports: Crops Off to Good Start 5-23
North Carolina Field Reports: Wet Conditions a Boon to Some, Bane to Others 5-23
Virginia Cotton: Focus on the Finish 5-23
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