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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.
Whitefly have become established across much of Georgia’s cotton production area and treatments continue. Some retreatments are being made. See comments by Phillip Roberts, John Beasley, Gary Swords and Steve Bullard.
Where whitefly are spreading, lack of quick product availability has become an ongoing issue. Both of the main insect growth regulators (IGRs) have either been in short supply or unavailable. We’re told that it might require some effort to find second-tier materials and/or the alternatives will be more expensive.
A California consultant – a regular contact for our West Coast reports – said that he was told last week that further shipments of those IGRs into the state would be limited or curtailed. “In one case, I was told that any extra product was going to Georgia because there was some kind of problem there,” he added. “Whatever product was on hand here would probably be it for the season.”
Whitefly also are stirring in adjoining areas in Alabama and Florida. See comments by Ron Smith.
Bollworm escapes are still being reported in scattered areas through the region.
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Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina
“It’s rained across a wide area in the last several days (from 8/14). Most everyone received 2 to 3 inches and in isolated locations the totals were more like 6 inches. The rain came after 3 weeks of dry weather, and it will do more good than harm. We’ll see how much fruit loss occurs in cotton with this sudden change from drought to a bunch of water. Cotton does look better than it did 2 to 3 weeks ago.
“The bulk of our crop will be blooming out the top within the next week and be into cutout. As far as insects go, we’ll be watching for stink bugs and worms in the less-mature cotton over the next 2 weeks, maybe a little longer in some fields.
“A few treatments have been going out for stink bugs and we’re watching for bollworms, although not much has happened lately to prompt any spraying. Aphids crashed with all the rain. Plant bugs are around. Except for a few cases where we only treated for them, our stink bug sprays have been taking care of plant bugs.
“Just a small amount of early maturing corn was harvested ahead of the rain. This is really just about the time most guys would start corn harvest, anyway.
“After a big moth flight, we treated corn earworms (CEW) in soybeans over the last couple of weeks, mostly in pockets. Stink bugs were part of the equation in places, too. Corn earworms have been erratic. In one area, counts might run 10X threshold but then in another area we can hardly find any. Not much looper pressure yet.”
Zach Ingrum, Sanders, Inc., Athens, Alabama
“We’re over-spraying a little of the Bt cotton for worms. That’s in pockets. In places, we’ve picked up about 8% worms in some Bollgard 2. We always expect to spray some in WideStrike, but we’re maybe doing a little more than usual. Also, we’re cleaning up a few plant bugs and aphids. Spider mites have pretty much disappeared.
“It’s raining right now (mid-afternoon, 8/14) and we’ve gotten about an inch today, I think. I’ll bet it rained 6 inches at my house last week. In places, less fell and some people would have liked to have had a bit more.
“Usually by now I would expect to find an open boll but haven’t seen one yet. No corn harvest yet. Our earliest planted soybeans are at R7 or a bit later, and they’re starting to drop leaves.”
Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama
“We’ve been really lucky – nearly every time we needed a rain, we got one. We did go a week this last time without any and older cotton in places threw off some stuff, but that part of the crop still has a nice boll load.
“It rained 2 inches on a general basis last Thursday and Friday and more rain is in the forecast for the next 2 days (from 8/14). Yield potential looks pretty good – maybe a better-than-average crop if it continues receiving water.
“Bugs have been light this year. I haven’t sprayed for stink bugs this season. We’re putting out some dicamba and Liberty for pigweed. Dicamba appears to be doing a good job. I’m seeing whitefly now and then but no infestations. No spider mites, either. I’ve only got a little Phytogen cotton and I’m not seeing worms in it.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia
“Whitefly continue to be the overriding concern. I’ve been doing this for 16 years and have written just minimal recommendations in the past for whitefly. If you totaled all those acres for the first 15 years, it’s still not as many acres of whitefly treatments as I’ve been writing up every day for about the last week.
“In places, dealers are running out of product. Honestly, I don’t know how manufacturers and dealers have kept up so far, considering how much we’ve sprayed. We’re out of at least one key product. I’m told that more is coming in today (8/14). We’re falling back now on our second or third choices.
“So far, we’ve probably sprayed 80% of our cotton one time for whitefly. This week we’ll start on our second application in places. Keep in mind that we only started treating 2 weeks ago. So far, I haven’t found any loss of leaves due to whitefly.
“I found a few open bolls in some fields last week.
“The only other problem in cotton is yellowing from excessive rain. Cotton in my western territory looks good. But cotton never greened up like it should in other areas where big amounts of rain fell after fertilizer was applied. We’re spreading ammonium sulfate where fields are at the third week of bloom or less. Anything past that, we’re foliar feeding.
“We’re fighting worms in peanuts now. Velvetbean caterpillars are making their presence known and loopers are in the mix, too. About 30% of our corn has been harvested. We would be further along but it’s been too wet. Last Monday and Tuesday (8/7-8) it rained 3 inches at my house and another inch after that. Rain has been fairly general and most of my area is still pretty wet.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist
“We are still getting some bollworm escapes in cotton in the Tennessee Valley. Young worms were turning up this week in the Huntsville area, which is a county or so away from where the initial problems developed.
“Moth trap counts went up about 3X at Belle Mina in the last week, so bollworms are coming from somewhere. I thought we had already seen the peak movement off corn. They’re coming through WideStrike and also Bollgard 2 to some degree.
“I’ve received a number of calls from people concerned about whitefly in the Wiregrass region in southeast Alabama. One 75-acre field – which is within the city limits of Dothan – hit threshold last week.
“Any issues that develop with whitefly in cotton will be further compounded by shortages of the insect growth regulators that are the first choice. That would be Knack and Courier. Odds of getting them right now are really slim.
“Some of the second and third choices aren’t as effective and also may be difficult to get. Essentially, anything on the suggested list could be in short supply.
“At the Wiregrass REC Field Day this Friday I will discuss whitefly. The field day starts at 8 a.m.
“We’re still monitoring for stink bugs and treating as necessary. They’re not overrunning us and damage isn’t as heavy as I anticipated after the mild winter.
“Cotton is fruiting well. The older plants are loaded up with bolls and the younger plants are loaded up with squares. We’ve been receiving abundant rainfall through much of the state and there’s some threat of rain all over Alabama for the rest of the week. About the worst thing that could happen now is for this rainy trend to continue into September, which raises concerns about boll rot in the older fields.
“In soybeans, loopers have built to really high levels in some fields in the southern tier of counties and velvetbean caterpillars are in the mix. Also, a few green clover worms are turning up, which is normal. In places, stink bugs and a few kudzu bugs are in beans. Redbanded stink bugs haven’t amounted to anything yet or at least I’ve received no reports about them.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia
“Whitefly are now distributed across most of our cotton production area and several hundred thousand acres have now been sprayed, with some of that being repeat sprays.
“In some fields, we’re seeing visible damage, particularly where people got behind on dealing with whitefly. We still have areas in Georgia where whitefly are present but not at treatable levels. Those situations must be closely monitored.
“Folks are light years ahead in terms of control where they reacted in a timely manner. As far as product availability goes, everything is tight. Growers will have to shop around and find something. At this point, the top tier of recommended products will be hard or impossible to locate. So, people will have to move down the list.
“Whatever products growers can find, they must treat quickly. I’d rather see people use the second or third products of choice on time than to go with the preferred product 5 days late. You cannot get behind with whitefly, ever.
“We need to maintain beneficials. Where whitefly aren’t at treatable levels – and I say this every week – don’t spray any other pests unless they’re clearly at threshold. This is not a year to put out an insecticide just because we’re in, say, the fifth week of bloom.
“We’re sinking some money into whitefly control but you have to stay after this pest. Issues about lint quality have to be factored into decisions.
“Don’t forget other pests. Keep scouting for corn earworms and other insects, even though a big part of the focus is on whitefly. We do have a really good crop and need to protect it.” More whitefly info here.
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina
“We’ve gotten timely rains and ample heat units, and this cotton is growing fast. Stink bugs are out there in places and people know what to do.
“Our pheromone trap captures for bollworms continue to increase, so we’re still in a moth flight. Some of the late-planted cotton would be more susceptible than earlier fields. Watch for escapes. I saw some in my plots today (8/15), so I wouldn’t consider any of the technologies to be bulletproof.
“Small loopers are appearing in soybeans and could become a factor soon. It’s hard to say how widespread loopers will be, so scout all your beans regularly.”
Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia
“We’re averaging about the sixth week of bloom across the crop, with some April-planted cotton opening.
“Whitefly are the dominate concern now. On the eastern side of the area I work, whitefly hit threshold last week. Just about everything else is at threshold now (8/16) – and we’re spraying just about all of our cotton if we can get the chemicals. What we’d like to use isn’t available and we’re shifting to a more expensive product because it’s all we can get. I’ve never dealt with anything like this before.
“We’re working with a complicated and costly crop – and for any number of reasons. This probably has been the worst year we’ve ever had with stemphylium after all the rain leached out nitrogen and potash. We had to come back and apply more, so we spent a lot of money on that. And now we’ll likely spend $50 an acre on whitefly, if not more. In the midst of all that, worms have developed both in WideStrike and Bollgard 2 varieties.
“Stink bugs are around, as well. We’ve been going with Besiege to avoid blowing up anything.
“Getting back to whitefly, we’ll need to harvest this cotton as early as possible to minimize the risk of further damage – certainly in terms of quality issues and stickiness. We’re slamming the late-planted cotton with Pix to hurry it up. Phillip Roberts (Extension Entomologist) says we will have to protect cotton until the last leaf is on the ground.
“Probably 80% of our corn has been harvested and it’s about 25 bu/acre off our long-term average.”
Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina
“We’re coming up on what we consider the last effective bloom date here. What’s on the crop right now looks pretty good. We’ve had rain across numerous areas in the Tennessee Valley, which has held up Pix applications and such.
“Some square shed is apparent after the rain but it’s nothing terrible right now (8/16).
“Some over-spraying has been necessary, although we’re not seeing the pressure reported in other areas. Several applications were made on regular WideStrike cotton but I also feel like more escapes occurred than normal in Bollgard 2 fields. Some of that also was over-sprayed here and there.
“At Belle Mina, our bollworm trap count hit 168 this week compared to 58 the previous week. You can’t say whether that will correlate with what happens with worms in the field, but it’s certainly enough to catch your attention.
“In soybeans, some bollworm treatments have been made, although no word on how widespread they were. In corn, folks would have started harvest at high moisture this week but the rain held it up.”
Steve Bullard, CCA, BCT Gin Co., Quitman, Georgia
“Scattered showers are falling every afternoon, and we need that. All the saturated soils earlier in the season limited root development, so these rains are really beneficial.
“With our oldest cotton, we started seeing cracked bolls last week in the bottom fruit. Plant growth regulators and boron have been going out. If we have stink bugs at threshold, we’re spraying. Otherwise, we’re leaving them alone due to concerns about whitefly.
“Most of our growers have now had to spray for whitefly, and that started about 10 days ago (from 8/16). Hopefully, we won’t have to fight them all the way to the end. But based on how things are going now, that seems likely. We’ll have to protect cotton until all the leaves are on the ground.
“We’re seeing a few mites in cotton but nothing that’s concerning yet. Stink bug pressure has been kind of low lately. We’re finding some worms in peanuts. A little corn harvest started last week.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina
“Blooms have appeared on top in places. Most people seem to be happy with yield potential. We’ve had a lot of rain this week, so everyone is itchy to get in the field and make any necessary treatments.
“Plant bugs are pretty light and scattered, and a lot of cotton is mature enough that they won’t matter. We can find stink bugs and some treatments have been made, but they’re extremely light this year, overall.
“Bollworms are trickling in late from that July flight. In the southern part of the state another flight may be taking shape, based on how trap counts have picked up. In beans and cotton today (8/16) I have been flushing more fresh moths. There’s no way to tell if this will amount to anything but some people are getting ready to spray if it comes down to it.
“One weird thing to mention – in some non-Bt cotton we’re finding European corn borers (ECB), and they’re pretty widespread in some of our plots. They were taking out terminals and have been tunneling into petioles. In one place, a ECB bored up and down the stem.
“In some really small soybeans, we’re finding pockets of corn earworms down in the bottom. That’s really spotty.”
Georgia Cotton: Whitefly Infestations Across the State – What Can You Do? 8-14
Georgia Cotton: Target Spot Is Enjoying This Weather (Audio) 8-13
Georgia Weeds: 3 Reminders for Late Season Management 8-11
Thompson on Cotton: USDA Sucker Punches Market 8-15
Alabama Cotton, Soybeans: Moth Numbers Still on the Rise, Scouting Fields Important Before Spraying 8-11
2018 Farm Bill: What Shiny Object Will be a Distraction this Time? – Commentary 8-16
Tobacco: Harvest Begins in Earnest 8-16
AgFax Southwest Cotton: Rain Keeps Coming; August Hailstorm No Good 8-16
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Cotton Outlook: U.S. Cotton Textile and Apparel Trade Unchanged in 2017 8-15
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