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Owen Taylor, Editor





Rains from tropical storm Cindy kept farmers out of the field in the lower Southeast through much of last week. In places, soils already were saturated from rainfall the week before. At least some field work has been possible in the first half of this week, especially in sandier parts of the region.


Aphids seem to be picking up in more areas this week. The aphid fungus has become apparent in portions of Georgia. Treatments were necessary last week on small, late-planted cotton in parts of the Southeast and Midsouth.


Plant bugs are being treated on a somewhat wider basis this week.


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John Burleson, Consultant, Swan Quarter, North Carolina

“We’re just starting to spray aphids. They seem to have flared this week. I talked with a colleague who works about 30 miles from me and he’s seeing them, too. No plant bug issues yet, but our aphid treatments should help quite a bit with any plant bugs out there.


“Cotton finally looks like cotton and it’s taken a while to reach that point. At least it’s moving now. The forecast says that the week will be somewhat cool, with highs mostly in the low 80s, but we’ll have plenty of sunshine.


“Mepiquat chloride applications are going out. Directed herbicide sprays are being made, too. In terms of rainfall, we’ve had close to a perfect year. This weekend it rained a half-inch to an inch across most of the area I work, although in certain places the totals have been excessive at times this month. Part of the county received 10 inches over a 2-week period early in June.


“Cotton is squaring, ranging from matchhead to what I would call full square. I expect to see some blooms in a week or two (from 6/26).”


Justin Ballew, Agronomy Agent, Dillon County, Clemson University, South Carolina

“Cotton development varies in the Pee Dee. I noticed our first field squaring last week, although some other counties have moved past that. Some cotton in Darlington County already is in the first week of bloom.


“I’ve been following reports about aphids and spider mites starting up in other parts of the state but we haven’t seen that here yet. Rainfall has been good and mostly consistent, and I haven’t seen any cotton wilting. We’re in a bit of a cool spell, with highs in the 80s all week, based on the last forecast I saw.”


Jack Royal, Royal’s Agricultural Consulting Co., Inc., Leary, Georgia

“The high today (6/26) is 89 and we have no rain – for a change. This open weather is supposed to last for several days, and we need it to make herbicide and fungicide applications. Rain amounts varied since last Monday (6/19). But we already were wet from rain the week before that, which kept us out of the field. Some additional rain fell Saturday night.


“Our land is kind of sandy, and I think all of my growers are in the field today doing something. Soil moisture is definitely good. The push now in cotton is to apply herbicides, sidedress nitrogen and make some fungicide applications. Our oldest cotton is now entering first bloom and the latest fields are still pre-square.


“We’re making plant bug and aphid applications, and plant bugs have started hitting secondary squares. Plant bugs are mostly at 10 to 20 per 100 sweeps, with other counts a little less than that. We’re applying Pentia for our plant growth regulator and are including Centric to take out aphids and plant bugs as we go through the cotton.


“We’re finding aphids on 20% to 60% of plants. I thought the aphid fungus would take them out, but that hasn’t happened so far.



“Overall, we’ve irrigated very little since about mid-May. In the last 3 weeks we’ve maybe watered corn once. One farmer said today he’d rather be wet and have a few weeds than for things to turn bone dry and not have enough water to pump. Our earliest corn is 2.5 to 3 weeks from black layer. Within the last week we sprayed corn again for stink bugs and also applied a fungicide.


“Our oldest peanuts have started pegging. We treated tobacco budworms in one field of small peanuts. Worms were running less than one per row foot but they were munching on plants pretty good, and the plants were too small to sustain that much defoliation. So far, those are the only peanuts we’ve treated for insects.”


Dennis Reginelli, Area Extension Agent and Agronomist, East-Central Mississippi

“We’ve had more rain on top of already wet fields. I’m hoping things will dry out enough this week that growers can lay by cotton and apply a little plant growth regulator (PGR).


“I saw a plane flying a few minutes ago (late afternoon, 6/26), but most farmers haven’t done any actual field work in a long time. Some people picked up another 5 inches of rain in the last 7 to 10 days, but it already was wet. Cotton is really stunted in low areas of fields. Our latest cotton just emerged in the last 7 to 10 days.


“A few plant bugs are around. So far, I haven’t seen or heard of a lot of pressure. Cotton is stretching in places, so we definitely need a PGR on parts of the crop. But growth also stalled where soils remained saturated. One concern now is how well plants will handle stress if things turn hot and dry, considering that root growth was limited in wet soils.


“In a few areas the wet conditions have kept farmers from planting the rest of their soybeans.”


Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist

“In central Alabama the April-planted cotton is just barely beginning to bloom. Some level of adult plant bugs were present in older fields early this week and even in some younger cotton. I don’t think they’re at treatment level and they didn’t seem to be impacting pinhead square retention yet.


“All the adults were dark in color, which means they’re really old and probably are the first wave off daisy fleabane. This movement could last for several weeks. If that’s the case, it will make it very difficult to time an application for adults. You may have to base treatment decisions on pinhead square retention during that period and keep it above 80%.


“A couple of weeks down the road start looking for hatch outs of immatures. Going forward, the best time for that Diamond application would probably be sometime in that first week of bloom. At that point you should have immatures. This year that probably won’t happen before about July 10.


“Aphids are beginning to build in a lot of fields, and people are trying to time applications. With as much rain as we’re having, some treatments may go out a little early when farmers go across the cotton for other purposes. With all this unsettled weather, they won’t know when they can get into the field again, so they may include an aphid material with this next trip.


“I kind of discussed that scenario with a consultant in a coastal area but also was told about aphids in cotton in Monroe County. In central Alabama an unusual number of adult lady beetles are apparent in cotton. That might indicate there’s a food source there or they think one is coming. Aphids are their preferred food, and this may indirectly indicate that the weather is positioning things for more aphids than usual. In sweeping for plant bugs, we’re already finding a low level of brown stink bugs in cotton.


I received a photo from Jackson County, Florida, showing an early-planted soybean sentinel plot that had kudzu bugs galore. A number of redbanded stink bugs were in the beans, too. That’s not a surprise but this provides one more point of confirmation that redbanded are in areas in the Florida panhandle and in south Alabama.”


Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina

“I’m receiving a lot of questions about plant bugs, mostly about scouting methods, treatment options and such. Those kinds of calls confirm that people want to be on their toes this season.


“Some have never sprayed plant bugs but they are becoming more aware of the potential for problems. I had my first full season in North Carolina in 2010, and plant bugs have been at least a little worse through the state every year since then.


“As each week goes by, I’m becoming more and more concerned about bollworms. A student has been monitoring bollworms in 40 plots of corn in different parts of the state. These contain paired sets of Bt and non-Bt hybrids. In a typical year, the earliest planted corn generally has less infestation than the later planted corn. But our earliest plots this year are 100% infested, with no exceptions.


“So, a lot of bollworms are in the system. We’ve already had hints of that. Our pheromone traps went out in May, and we usually don’t catch many bollworm moths early on. But this year the numbers were surprisingly high in that first week. In the student’s plots, bollworms are breaking through the cry Bt protein just like they did last year. With timely planted corn, they generally don’t limit yields, but they’re building populations now that will move into cotton and soybeans as the season progresses.”


Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, Western Panhandle

“Cotton is coming along. My major concern at this point would be where growers put down a preplant application of nitrogen. After all this rain, they need to at least consider topping off their nitrogen – especially on sandy soils.


“It’s rained 9 inches over the last couple of weeks (from 6/27) on top of all the other rain this spring. It’s been enough to keep fields soaked, with standing water in places. That won’t do cotton any good, and it’s too late to replant. My best estimate is that 10% of our intended cotton acreage on the western side of the panhandle probably won’t be planted.


“It did quit raining 3 days ago, which gave us a 2-day window to play catchup in the field. A lot of effort has gone into peanuts – making the first or second fungicide application and also applying gypsum. We desperately needed that break, but more rain is in the forecast later in the week. None of our cotton is at first square, so we haven’t started sidedressing yet.


“If anything, peanuts have been trickier to manage in these conditions. As we catch these breaks in the weather, growers will continue pushing to apply gypsum. I’m recommending that they review their initial soil tests and prioritize gypsum applications on fields with less than 250 ppm of calcium.


“If you have a narrow window between rainy periods, hit those first. Research shows that you get little if any response to gypsum above 250 ppm. If you’re growing peanuts for seed, you’ll have to apply gypsum regardless of soil calcium, since that tends to be part of the contract.


“Cotton will probably be more affected than peanuts by these saturated soils since peanuts are planted on beds. Even though the beds have been knocked down, there’s still a bit of a furrow to keep water away from roots. Cotton goes in flat, so more of it will likely drown out.”


Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina

“Just like last week, some folks are finding fields with plant bugs that need attention. I don’t want anyone to think that this is a widespread thing in South Carolina, but they are present in places.


“The numbers vary. I checked square retention and swept in some of the older cotton here and couldn’t find enough to justify spraying. In other areas, though, they’re at or near threshold to varying degrees. Aphids never really took hold, generally speaking. They did hurt some of the younger cotton in places. Phillip Roberts (Georgia Extension Entomology Specialist) reported finding locations where the aphid fungus was working against them.”


Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia

“Most people probably have adequate moisture at this time. The big push now (6/27) is to catch up with weed control and fertilizer applications after rain kept growers out of the field.


“We are seeing aphids crash due to the fungus. That’s not widespread yet but it’s not uncommon, either, so check cotton closely for signs of the infection before you might treat. Aphid populations did build on some of our latest-planted cotton, with pretty heavy pressure on 2-leaf plants, and that did prompt treatments in places. Plants were simply too small to sustain that damage, and we didn’t want that later cotton held back further.



“We rarely see this kind of pressure on young cotton. In the last week, though, several people have brought situations like this to my attention.


“With plant bugs, a lot of people are sweeping and checking retention. At this point, we’re probably seeing significantly fewer plant bug numbers and retention problems than in recent years. But you still need to scout closely and make sure you’re not in one of those pockets where issues do arise.


“As I noted last week, kudzu bugs appear to be resurging after several years of scant numbers. I’m receiving reports about this from several parts of the state. So, scout soybeans but don’t overreact. Wait on our threshold of one immature per sweep. If you hit that number, act accordingly.”


Trey Bullock, Bullock's Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

“More rain over the last week stalled out any field work. We can probably start in the field again tomorrow (6/27) in just a spot or two. With this last system we averaged 6 inches of rain around Hattiesburg, but the week before that I dumped 6 to 8 inches from gauges in the area, so it’s been kind of an onslaught. It could have been worse, I guess.


“Some peanuts are 48 days old and in that time the field hasn’t been able to hold up a sprayer. My biggest concern about peanuts is that certain parts of the crop seem to have been under water all their lives – not whole fields but certainly areas of fields. One farmer who’s been working some ground for 20 years said he’s never seen these kinds of problems with extended wet conditions.


“Our cotton ranges from just up and at cotyledon to fields on the Mississippi River that have 15 to 16 nodes and have been blooming 1.5 to 2 weeks. That cotton was planted early and has had dry weather in the last 10 to 14 days. Its root system is pretty shallow but it has made a pretty decent turnaround and is holding more fruit than expected.


“We need more of those conditions across our entire crop. For the most part, cotton is in better shape than it ought to be.


“Except for isolated spots, plant bugs are almost nonexistent. However, aphids are exploding this week. My biggest problem in cotton, though, is deer. They’re literally eating acre after acre. We see some of this every year, but this year they’ve come on fast in places. In some historic deer areas I won’t see any feeding or tracks but then the next week parts of the field are simply gone.


“Woods surround plenty of our small fields, so even consistent hunting pressure hasn’t had an effect. In the middle of the day I worked through a 400-acre tract of peanuts and I was looking at deer pretty much the whole time. I counted 79 head in groups of 9 to 12, so it doesn’t take long for that many deer to inflict damage. They’re feeding on other crops, but deer are hurting cotton the worst.


“We don’t need any more big storms but we will need some rain as we go along. More rain is in the forecast, with a 60% chance starting on Wednesday. A helicopter will be here this week to make some applications.


“As bad a shape that we’re in, our ‘pre’ and residual herbicides worked well, especially in peanuts. In a few cotton fields we have jungles, but only here and there. We don’t have resistant pigweed, so we’re really not in bad shape in terms of weeds. What little corn I have is at full dent.”



Georgia Cotton: Rainfastness of PGRs   6-28


Tennessee Cotton: Managing Plant Growth During 2017   6-28


Virginia Cotton: Tarnished Plant Bugs – Don’t Panic Yet, but Keep Scouting Your Fields   6-28


Cotton – Southwest: Rain Came But So Did Hail, Wind – AgFax   6-28


Georgia Peanuts: Through the Eyes of a Farmer – Mason and Mike Robert, Jr – Video   6-28


Virginia Cotton: Tarnished Plant Bugs Migrating into Fields   6-27


Georgia Cotton: Aphid Fungus Starting to Appear   6-27


Florida: Precision Ag Field Day, Columbia City, July 29   6-27


Tennessee Cotton: Control Options for Plant Bugs and Aphids   6-27


North Carolina Cotton: 7 Considerations Before Making PGR Decisions   6-27


North Carolina Cotton: Making Irrigation Decisions   6-27


South Carolina Peanuts: Boron Management – Choosing the Right Product   6-28


More Cotton News | More Peanut News



Photo: ©Debra L. Ferguson

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