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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.
Rainfall amounts are adding up in parts of the Southeast. Portions of the region are under the influence of a tropical system in the Gulf. The rain and cloudy weather has either caused fruit shed or raises that prospect. Boll rot is evident in places. All the moisture could further fuel diseases like target spot and bacterial blight, among others.
Stink bugs remain the main pest in parts of our coverage area. Plant bugs have mainly eased into the background and/or are being taken out by stink bug sprays.
Bollworm activity varies. In parts of the lower Southeast the moth counts and egg numbers have dropped off sharply, while worm counts have picked up farther north.
Starting this week, we’re broadening our contacts to include occasional updates from growers. This week we visited with George Hodge, who operates in north Alabama.
If you’re a farmer and would like to share info on how your cotton is progressing, please let us know.
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Zach Ingrum, Sanders, Inc., Athens, Alabama: “We’re spraying a few acres of our WideStrike cotton for worms. They’re not bad. A few stink bug and plant bug issues are out there, too. Where we’re spraying WideStrike, those fields have good yield potential and we can justify the application.
“Cotton ranges from bolls opening in stressed areas all the way to cotton that we’ll watch for another month. With hot, dry weather in June, the early cotton stressed more, but planting dates will have more to do than anything else with what cotton makes from field to field. If it was planted 3 weeks later than the earliest cotton, it would have benefitted from better rainfall patterns into the summer.
“The rain this year is as spotty as it’s ever been, with definite ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. It’s not like a drought where everything burned up. Cotton looks fantastic for a few of my customers, while others didn’t get rain when needed. And we have all the possible situations in between. One pivot hasn’t run all year because the grower keeps getting rain, while 15 miles away we’ve got knee-high cotton at cutout with bolls popping open.”
Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, Western Panhandle: “Cotton was looking really strong, and we had timely rains right around first flower. Target spot wasn’t bad where we had rotation. However, we’re into a rainier pattern now, so things might change.
“With rain and cloudy conditions, we could see some shedding. Also, rain could push plant diseases. We’re keeping an eye on angular leaf blight and are hoping people will let us know if they find it. We want to determine which varieties might be more susceptible. How target spot goes remains to be seen, but I can probably walk into any field and find it. Any treatment decisions will have to be partly based on yield potential.
“We’ve had aphids but haven’t seen any mites lately, and insects have been light, overall.
“In peanuts, we didn’t get much early leaf spot, but we’re definitely in late leaf spot territory now. These hot, moist conditions should favor white mold. If possible, time white mold treatments before a rain or try to spray at night.”
Eddie McGriff, Regional Extension Agronomist, Centre, Alabama: “Cotton in most fields has been hammered by drought, and quite a bit is blooming out the top. Insect pressure has been pretty low. The forecast calls for rain over a 5-day period this week, but in the first 2 days of that window the rain failed to develop.
“Higher cotton prices have boosted spirits a little. We still have a good crop, considering how dry it’s been, but it would have been a great crop if it had gotten rain at the right time.”
Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia: "We’ve had more than a week of rainy weather, starting last Monday (8/1). Last week some growers measured 5 inches and this week in spots another 5 to 8 inches accumulated. The least I’ve heard about was 0.7 of an inch. A tropical system is swirling in the gulf, and how much rain falls depends on which band you’re under.
“Cotton ranges from 35 days old – which probably won’t make a lot – all the way to 120 days and into its second week with open bolls. As of today (8/9) the crop is above average. We can tolerate rain to some degree this week and maybe next week, but we absolutely need dry conditions in an August 20 to September 15 window to avoid major problems.
“Target spot is evident in a lot of cotton, although it hasn’t completely exploded. Bacterial blight is in about 50% of our fields, and it hasn’t blown up, either. We’re taking note of some varietal differences with both diseases. As of now, we’ve maybe lost 50 lbs/acre to bacterial blight. But with this rain, things are lining up for a negative impact on yields.
“We’re seeing a little boll rot and hard locking in the bottoms of plants. In our oldest cotton the worst-case scenario right now is 2 rotten bolls per plant, but if the rain goes on another 7 to 10 days, that will compound things. This looks like an above-average crop, which our growers really need, so prolonged rain is about the last thing we want to see. The forecast says the system may be out of here by Thursday. Let’s hope so.
“We’re spraying stink bugs in some cotton and have found a few escaped fall armyworms and corn earworms. Overall, insect control and weed control have been pretty good this season.
“In peanuts, white mold really started showing up this week, and with this rain we’ll maybe tighten fungicide intervals to 10 days. Leaf spot is more prevalent, especially where materials washed off. We’re spraying worms in some peanuts, and insects have been working on us this year more than usual. Nematodes are becoming obvious on some 100-day-old peanuts. Our oldest are at 112 days, and we’ll start profiling a few fields at 120 to 125 days.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: "Stink bugs continue to be the biggest thing in cotton in south and central Alabama, although I’m not sure they’re turning up everywhere. Very low numbers are present in places, but you also can find threshold levels in some fields.
“With as much variability as I’m seeing in these counts, every field must be checked. Don’t assume that all your cotton does or doesn’t have treatment levels based on just one scouting stop. Monitor closely for damage and check up and down for stink bug activity. We’re now 6 to 8 weeks into bloom, so we can raise the damage threshold to 20% to 30% since fewer bolls are being produced now and fewer are at risk.
“We began seeing our first open bolls at Prattville 2 weeks ago in plots planted on April 18. Some cotton there is now open a third of the way to the top.
“Folks in north Alabama are still concerned about bollworm escapes, and that may be the only part of the state where they remain much of an issue. A lot of moths are still out there. High numbers of tobacco budworm (TBW) moths are being caught in places. While that doesn’t matter in cotton, TBW could be a factor in soybeans and peanuts.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “The recent weather has been good for cotton – warm, with plenty of moisture. It’s rained a little too much in places, to the point that people can’t get in the field. In one spot yesterday it actually rained 3 inches in an hour. However, it looks like we’re going into a dry spell for the rest of the week, which would be fine.
“I’m getting a lot of calls about chemical selection for treating stink bugs. Plant bugs are still around but spotty, and lingering populations will probably be covered where people treat for stink bugs. Call volume has picked up about application misses with bollworms. Most people don’t scout for bollworms, but they are finding them as they check for stink bugs.
“All kinds of scenarios could explain these bollworm numbers, like whether adults moved in after an application and laid more eggs. In certain cases it seems like pyrethroids weren’t working as well as they should. But I’m also coming across instances where maybe Bidrin was applied earlier and took out beneficials before more eggs were deposited.
“One way or the other, this is a heavy bollworm year, so regularly check your Bt cotton. All the calls seem to relate to WideStrike cotton, and I think people are focusing more on WideStrike since it’s not as strong on bollworms. But don’t forget about the Bollgard 2 fields. Never assume that it will control heavy bollworm populations like those we’re seeing now.”
THE FARMER’S VIEW
George Hodge, Hodge Farms, New Market, Alabama:
“It was dry in the first part of the summer, and our cotton was small and looked like it had burned up. Then it started raining around the Fourth of July, and between that Friday and Tuesday we got about 2 inches. That visibly perked up our cotton. From there, we started getting rain, to the point that cotton began getting too big.
“We’re farming one 75-acre field that had been in hay. We planted corn on it for a couple of years. This year I decided to grow cotton on it, and it took off. I’ve applied 56 ounces/acre of Pix on that ground over 3 treatments, and it’s still too big. In fact, in the ranker spots, we increased the spray volume to 15 gallons an acre.
“Everything has had at least 28 ounces/acre of Pix. I’m trying to keep from growing those switches at the top of the plant that don’t have anything on them. At harvest, those get ground up and you end up with pepper trash, which I want to avoid. I think I’ve at least stopped plants, and the last quart on that particular field was for insurance.
“I had planned to only have cotton this year, but the man who ran our module builders died. He could keep 2 of them going at once, and I didn’t think I could train anyone right away to operate them like he did. So, I put some land in corn and beans. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen nematodes develop in cotton in this county, and I planted corn on about 100 acres to eliminate nematodes as much as we can.
“We haven’t had tremendous insect pressure this season, but we are seeing a lot of moths flying now. The Phytogen cotton isn’t quite as resistant to bollworms, and we wanted to get protection in place in those fields, so we applied some Tundra.
“We’re still getting rain. Monday night (8/8) we got another 1.75 inches on about half of my crop. That was on top of an inch that fell late last week. I’m ready for things to dry out. I know in some of these wetter spots that we’ll see boll rot a little later. No open bolls yet, although we should find a few on our hills pretty soon.
“The cotton on hills is short and suffered more. It came up fast, then got a cold north wind and a low one night down to 32, which set it back. Then the weather turned dry until early July. As a result, we’ll have some cotton ready for harvest on the hills but the bottoms won’t even be ready for defoliation at that point. We’ve had that problem before, and you just have to live with it until the bottoms are ready.
“We’ve gotten enough rain to hold things for a while unless we slip into another round of drastically hot weather. The forecast does say we’ll be in the 80s this week. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about the rain. A neighbor said someone told him that we were getting too much rain. My neighbor said, ‘You can’t get too much rain in August.’”
Editor's Note: If you’re a farmer and would like to share info on how your cotton is progressing, please let us know
Cotton: Ag Market Teleconference to Discuss Production, Prices, Aug. 15 8-10
DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends: Waiting for the Bottom – DTN 8-10
Cotton – Southwest – Rain Gives Dryland Crop a Needed Boost – AgFax 8-10
Cotton: Enlist Technology Gains Significant Foreign Approval 8-10
Florida: Dryland Farming with Rye Cover Crop 8-10
Virginia Cotton: Prospects are Looking Good 8-9
Virginia Field Reports: Scattered Showers Aid Crop Development, Good Yields Expected 8-8
Alabama Field Reports: Scattered Showers Provide Relief, Benefit Crops 8-8
Georgia Field Reports: Corn Harvest Well Underway, Cotton Looks Mostly Good 8-8
South Carolina Field Reports: Corn Harvest Slowly Picks Up 8-8
Georgia: Pest Manager Training Workshop, Savannah, Aug. 26
Georgia Peanut Tour, Tifton, Sept. 13-15
More Cotton News | More Peanut News
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