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Owen Taylor, Editor
Here is this week's issue of AgFax Southeast Cotton.
Our thanks to SePRO – maker of Brake herbicide – for once again sponsoring our coverage.
A few bolls are opening in Georgia.
Silverleaf whitefly greatly expanded their range in Georgia this summer and have now spread into adjoining areas in Alabama and Florida. They are present in 650,000 acres of cotton in Georgia – about half of the state’s crop this year – and 10% of the cotton has been treated for them so far.
Plant bugs remain a factor in parts of the Southeast. In some cases numbers have declined, while in parts of the region the numbers are increasing and/or immatures are present.
Bollworm egg lays continue in some areas and oversprays have been made on what sounds like a scattered basis. Spider mites are around, as well. Moths are still turning up.
Disease remains a hit or miss issue. Bacterial blight is appearing in specific varieties. Target spot hasn’t gone crazy, based on this week’s reports, but we still have to get through August.
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David Butcher, NC Ag Service, Inc., Pantego, North Carolina
“Our cotton looks pretty good. It’s still running a little behind, maybe a week later now. We’ve been treating lygus, with pretty high numbers in certain pockets.
“Rains have been falling about like we need them and in between showers we’ve had good sunshine. Retention appears to be pretty favorable and we’re set up to make a good crop if the weather cooperates.
“A moth flight started taking shape, and we’ve been triggering applications on eggs. That mostly started last week and we’ve been over-spraying our Bollgard 2, either with a pyrethroid or going with Besiege or Prevathon. I haven’t seen the first worm yet (as of 7/31).
“We’re watching closely for worms in soybeans. I haven’t heard of any cases where beans have been treated, at least not any instances where they needed to be sprayed. A lot of stink bugs developed in corn, but corn is already made, so I think we’ll see some stink bug problems at some point in beans. Where I’ve heard about any stink bug treatments in soybeans, the field had corn on 3 sides.
“A lot of corn is dented and some is at 30% moisture. I just saw the first field being harvested, but it looked like it was planted early in an early maturing hybrid. By next week, though, I expect to see more combines running in corn.”
Eddie McGriff, Regional Extension Agronomist, Centre, Alabama
“We got about 2 inches of rain last Friday across a wide area, which was good. Temperatures are actually cooler than in the last 2 weeks, down in the mid to high 80s, which is about 10 degrees lower than it has been. That’s a blessing.
“We had a lot of waterlogged cotton – whole fields in places – with obvious nitrogen and sulfur deficiency. Plants are coming out of that a little now. It’s amazing how much it has rained this summer. In the 2.5 months ending in mid-July we received 25 inches, which is about 45% of the yearly average.
“Just about everything has been laid by and maybe some Pix is going out on later-planted cotton. We’re mainly scouting now for plant bugs and stink bugs and are still treating in places. It’s varied quite a bit. I was in a field today (7/31) where the only insects I found were beneficials. I saw spider mite damage on the ends, but just a leaf here and there.
“Where I’ve been scouting with farmers, plant bug numbers have been right at threshold in places. More pressure developed, though, in the Tennessee Valley, which is outside of the area I work. The closer to the Mississippi line, the worse the pressure tended to be.
“With all the rain this year, dryland corn looks as good as irrigated corn, except that farmers with pivots put more fertilizer and other inputs on those fields. We’re seeing some tip dieback, especially where upper-end growers planted higher populations. The cause was lower amounts of sunlight. Our solar radiation is down 25% to 30% for the year to date compared to the same period in 2016. Some of the earliest corn is close to black layer.”
Brandon Phillips, Phillips Ag Services, LLC, Fitzgerald, Georgia
“Today (7/31) I found my first open boll (image to right). It was in some April-planted cotton. We’ve had a dry streak in Ben Hill County running around Fitzgerald – compared to everyplace else I work, which has mostly received rain all along. In that dry area, the cotton will still probably go 800 to 900 lbs/acre. Where growers can irrigate, they’re running wide open on peanuts and cotton.
“Whitefly are still very much with us. I’ve sprayed plenty in the last 20 years for 2 pests at a time, but for the first time I’ve had to target 3 at once – whitefly, stink bugs and spider mites.
“I’ve never sprayed whitefly as early as I had to start this year. The first applications went out in the last week of June or the first week of July, and now we’re spraying them again. They won’t stop, and more and more whitefly keep pouring in. It’s like one of those bad dreams that doesn’t end.
“Worms have required treatments in places. We’ve sprayed some WideStrike – the regular WideStrike, not WideStrike 3. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. I do think we’re done with the corn earworm (CEW) flight, and it lasted a while – maybe 3 solid weeks. Typically, CEW run their course in a couple of weeks. This year they’ve been around since the first week of July, but they do appear to be dwindling now.
“We’re spraying some varieties for target spot. In a few varieties, bacterial blight has moved to bolls instead of being isolated on leaves and petioles. It affected yields tremendously in a lot of cases last year. Many people in the Georgia consultant community would have no problem telling you about cases where yields were off 200 to 300 lbs/acre.
“In peanuts, we’ve got a whole assortment of worms. I picked up cutworms, fall armyworms, CEW and velvetbean caterpillars all in one stop but also can find loopers and southern armyworms, among other species.
“Corn harvest started last week in some of the earliest-planted fields.”
Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM, Marianna, Florida
“Cotton is coming along nicely and the majority of our acres seems to be in bloom, including fields planted late because of all the earlier rain. Boll set appears to be good, based on what I’ve seen so far.
“Not a whole lot of pest or disease pressure has developed. I can find insects but nothing at threshold. Disease has been very, very light. I haven’t detected any bacterial blight and target spot has been negligible. Just a few farmers have mentioned applying fungicides on cotton.
“In peanuts, I am finding more insects, particularly caterpillars. More corn earworms have been in peanuts in the last couple of weeks, along with a few armyworms. I haven’t seen many soybean loopers or velvetbean caterpillars.
“The first corn harvest started about 14 days ago (from 7/31) and it’s nearly finished.”
Andrew Sawyer, Extension Agent, Thomas County, Georgia
“Our oldest cotton is in the third to fourth week of bloom and everything is at least squaring except for a few late acres. Cotton looks better after that long stretch of cloudy days held it back.
“Whitefly are the big thing right now. Some populations have been treatable, and growers will be spraying all this week in certain areas in the county. Peanuts definitely look as good as I’ve ever seen them. Rainfall amounts have been nearly perfect. Some corn harvest has started.”
David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi
“All of our irrigated cotton looks good. The same goes for dryland cotton where it’s gotten rain. We could use a good general rain right now. What we’ve had lately were scattered showers.
“If we go this week without an area-wide rain, some cotton will head downhill pretty quickly. The first 10 days of August will determine how yields work out on our non-irrigated crop.
“I haven’t made oversprays for bollworms in Bt cotton in a number of years, but we had to treat about everything with the regular WideStrike gene and also some of the Deltapine cotton. That happened last week but it seems like things have already quieted down. However, I’m in a field right now (late afternoon, 7/31) and I am seeing moths.
“We started spraying on eggs because we had excessive escapes. Once bollworms are under a dry bloom, they are safe, so we went with egg recommendations from Angus Catchot (Mississippi Extention Entomologist).
“A few people tried to start into corn harvest earlier but it was wet, so they held off. Growers are picking around now for any fields where they can cut. Harvest should crank up a little more next week.”
Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee
“Our cotton hasn’t reached peak bloom yet. We’re in the middle of insects. We’ve been through a pretty significant infestation of plant bugs but have taken care of that. We sprayed everything once across the board. We’re now applying Pix and boron.
“Aside from still finding an occasional plant bug, we’re seeing plenty of threecornered alfalfa hoppers (3CAH). They can clip off the square where the stem attaches to the petiole. This isn’t an economic infestation but they are spreading. Any material that’s good on plant bugs should handle them fine.
“After spraying for plant bugs, ladybugs cleaned up residual aphids. Ants are present, too. If any bollworm moths come through and lay eggs, the beneficials will be waiting for them. By mid-August, more of our cotton will be in peak bloom. If the weather holds to a normal pattern, we’ll be defoliating around October 10.
“Some corn on red knolls and red hills will hit black layer next week, but most corn is still 2.5 weeks away. Overall, though, we have excellent moisture. It rained about 1.25 inches last Friday (7/28), which sets us up well as we head into August.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina
“In general, cotton looks good. There isn’t as much insect activity as I thought we might see by now. That includes both bugs and bollworms. A little spider mite activity is apparent.
“This appears to be a low-insect year in terms of stink bugs and bollworms. In pockets, bollworm treatments have been necessary in 2-gene cotton, but it’s nothing widespread. It looked like insects would have benefited from all the rain, but then they stalled out.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina
“Bollworms have tapered off a little, although consultants are still finding some egg lays this week. In places, they’re pretty significant. Treatments are going out to clean up larvae in WideStrike and Bollgard 2 varieties.
“It’s just August 1 and we’ve already treated a bunch of cotton for bollworms, which is kind of unusual. On average, this will be the second week where any treatments have gone out in the state, although for some guys it’s the third week.
“Immature plant bugs are around in spots. The good news is that pyrethroids are working pretty well on them, with only a few reports of failures. In my plots, the results have been good. Stink bugs are around but not as much as I might have expected earlier. On average, the crop is into the fourth to fifth week of bloom. Warm weather and moisture have moved cotton along. We are reaching the point that moisture is needed in spots.
“Spider mites and aphids are very widespread in cotton, and every week I’ll hear about some cotton that might be treated for aphids. In a few fields lately, aphids have been really abundant and probably warranted treatments. With mites, I haven’t heard of anything that needed to be treated, although they are present in places.
“Bollworms are showing up in flowering soybeans. Typically, we don’t spray unless the pressure is too much for biocontrol to hold them back. Worms can eat a lot of flowers but the plant compensates, and a lot of those flowers would shed anyway.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia
“We still have pockets with bollworm pressure, although I’m not hearing about the major issues people are dealing with in the Midsouth. We definitely are contending with escapes in places and sporadic treatments are being made, so you need to scout for bollworms.
“Spider mites are present and a lot of people are monitoring them, but very few acres have been sprayed. Stink bugs are hitting threshold in a lot of areas.
“Whitefly are spreading and are still quite problematic. We’re estimating that whitefly are present in about 650,000 acres of Georgia cotton right now, which is half of our cotton acres this year. Roughly 10% of the crop has been treated.
“Don’t underestimate them as a pest. Until this year, they’ve mostly been contained to a small area, so plenty of people have had no experience with them. Early detection is vital and be prepared to use insect growth regulators in a timely manner. It takes about 14 days to go from a fresh egg to an adult whitefly, so they can build quickly.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist
“I’ve only heard one report of anyone in Alabama finding pyrethroid-resistant plant bugs and escaped bollworms, and that was in a limited area in north Alabama roughly between Decatur and Florence. The escaped worms may be due to multiple applications for plant bugs. Those treatments could remove beneficials that might otherwise take out any worms making it through the Bt technology.
“Georgia has been dealing with widespread populations of whitefly. We now have one or more fields with silverleaf whitefly that are at or near threshold. Thats in Geneva County. Whitefly also are being reported on the Alabama-Florida line.
“Plant bugs are beginning to make an appearance in places. I was told that plant bugs are turning up in Monroe County in areas where they haven’t had them all year. That’s in southwest Alabama. Also, southern green stink bugs are becoming more detectable in places. Even though we didn’t find many of them in corn, they probably came out of corn.” See related information from Ron Smith here.
Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia
“Most cotton is fruiting up well. With all the rain, fertilizer ran short in places and we’ve had to come back with second and even third rounds to make it look like cotton. The crop ranges from 10 to 12 nodes where it was planted behind sweet corn all the way to the fifth week of bloom.
“Potentially, this could be a bad year for whitefly here. I haven’t seen this much activity in a long time, maybe since the 1990s. Even though whitefly develop every year in parts of Georgia, we’ve been lucky enough not to have them on this side of the state. This year, it’s different.
“Whitefly are present and building in pretty much every cotton field we check. We’ve already sprayed about 2,000 acres with Knack (as of 8/1) and will probably spray several thousand more acres in the coming days.
“I’ve had one report of them being treated in peanuts in Live Oak, Florida, and I’m finding them in some cotton we check in a nearby area in southeast Alabama. Whitefly are driving every treatment decision we’re making in cotton right now.
“We’ve had corn earworm escapes in cotton. It’s nothing devastating and nowhere close to what people report in the Midsouth. We have over-sprayed a lot of cotton with a pyrethroid in the last 2 weeks.
“Plant bugs are still with us. They may be worse than people realize if they’re not regularly checking. If you go 3 weeks without an insecticide spray in cotton, they’re likely taking fruit off the plant. Stink bugs are an ongoing problem. Peanuts act as a factory and they’re providing stink bugs for cotton on a weekly basis.
“On the other hand, we’re finding surprisingly little disease in cotton. Bacterial blight has been isolated to certain varieties. Target spot began showing up in just the last 2 weeks. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, it’s about a 3 right now. But target spot has a way of exploding, especially as you get into August with all the heat, humidity and the effects of irrigation.
“We’re dealing with multiple pests – plant bugs, stink bugs, spider mites, white fly – and in places we’re treating all of them in the same field, plus applying a fungicide. Once you add in the plane’s cost, it’s $30 to $35 an acre. We’re in what I’d call our ‘big money’ period for inputs in cotton. That includes last week, this week and the next 2 weeks. Plenty of critical decisions are being made, too.
“In peanuts, we’ve been spraying worms over the last 2 weeks. It’s mostly been corn earworms and velvetbean caterpillars. Some loopers are present but we haven’t had a bad looper problem yet.
“Tomato spotted wilt is probably heavier than I’ve seen in 7 or 8 years. In the last week, we’ve found more and more white mold, both above and below ground, but it’s nothing we can’t control.
“Corn harvest has been underway. Yields are kind of average – 230 to 250 bu/acre – but none of those super-high yields we like to see. That 4 weeks of cloudy, rainy weather hurt corn. Ears are smaller and tips didn’t fill out.
“Soybeans have required treatments for stink bugs and foliage feeders and we had to apply fungicides twice on our full-season beans for frogeye. Our MG IV beans look very promising and we’ll be planting them behind sweet corn up to August 7.”
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Photo: Brandon Phillips, Phillips Ag Services, LLC,
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