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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.



Dry conditions have put cotton planting on hold in parts of the region. Where possible, growers are switching to planting peanuts because they can go deeper for moisture.


A relatively large amount of cotton has been planted since May 1 across a portion of the Southeast. High temperature trends are keeping the soil warm, which is conducive to fast germination and emergence where moisture is available.


What about thrips? That lack of moisture is likely limiting the amount of at-planting insecticides that are available for uptake by the plants. Without rain soon, growers in drier areas may be pushed into making foliar sprays to control thrips.


For new growers, pickers have been in short supply, we continue to hear. In places, limitations on harvest capacity kept more ground from shifting into cotton, even with an 80-cent market.




David Butcher, NC Ag Service, Inc., Pantego, North Carolina:

"We’re just starting into cotton planting. A little went in the ground last week, then more planting got underway this week. A lot of corn has been planted and is emerging now and a few early soybeans have been planted, too.


“It was a rough spring – very, very wet. Temperatures in February were actually pretty nice but March was downright chilly and April was on the cool side. Right now, though, it looks like we have the potential for a warm May. Cotton acres will be up only slightly in our area.”


Brandon Phillips, Phillips Ag Services, LLC, Fitzgerald, Georgia:

“It’s gotten dry here. Where people are planting on beds, they have enough moisture and are still going, whether those are dryland or irrigated fields. Where people will strip-till in non-irrigated fields, they’ve completely stopped planting until it rains again.


“At least 5% of our cotton has been planted (as of 5/7), but it could be as much as 10%. My oldest cotton has one true leaf. Nothing abnormal has turned up yet with thrips.


“Since peanuts can be planted deeper to get seed into moisture, we’re 20% to 30% finished with those.


“I think cotton acres will be up just a little across the state, but in this area they may be down a bit due to people rotating some acres to corn.”


David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi:

“We started planting cotton last week. It is getting dry but growers can still get seed into moisture, so planting continues (as of 5/7). I don’t expect a big shift in our acres, maybe up 5% to 10%.



“When the market hits 80 cents, people are eager to plant cotton, so we would have had a bigger increase. But in this area, we don’t have the harvest capacity to plant much more than we usually expect, and that limitation will cap whatever our final cotton acreage turns out to be.


“Corn planting took place between showers but it’s up and looks good.”


Steve Bullard, CCA, BCT Gin Co., Quitman, Georgia:

“We’re dry and cotton planting has come to a halt. At this point (5/7), we’re about 25% done. I think cotton acres will be up just a little, while our peanut acres will be down a bit. None of this shift is major – maybe 10% or 15%.”


Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

“It finally looks like we’ll have a cotton crop. We suddenly went from very poor planting conditions to ideal conditions, and people started planting cotton last week around May 1. It got into the 80s for highs 6 days ago and it’s remained like that (as of 5/7). Cotton planting has broken loose, for certain.


“It rained a half-inch to an inch over the weekend (5/5-6) and over the last weekend in April it rained about 2 inches across a wide area. So, we have moisture and good temperatures, and half the cotton could be planted by this coming weekend. Cotton planted last Tuesday is emerging today.


“Our cotton acreage will be up slightly. It’s amazing to be into planting with the cotton market at 80 cents.”


Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

"Folks are either planting wide open or they’ve had to stop because of drought and lack of soil moisture. Stopping is mainly the case in central and south Alabama. At least three fronts moved through the northern part of the state but the rest of Alabama received little or no rain.


“No more cotton will emerge down here until it rains or people run pivots to water it up.


“I’m seeing a little crinkling on leaves in the earlier planted cotton, so we know thrips are with us. Considering these dry conditions, I’m concerned about whether seed treatments were activated. They’re water soluble, so moisture is necessary to get them going. Generally, thrips don’t seem to be heavy.


“One or two people called about grasshoppers, which isn’t unusual this time of the year. The grasshoppers are still young, so pretty much any material will work on them.


“We’re sweeping for plant bugs in daisy fleabane in ditches and field edges. In 2 to 3 weeks, plant bugs will start moving off the weeds and looking for a new host. Since a big part of this crop has only recently been planted, it will be in the pre-square stage when the migration starts. So, cotton probably won’t be able to support a big population of plant bugs and they’ll just pass on through.”


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

“It’s too dry now (5/8) to plant cotton. I’m speaking mainly about the southern part of the state but I suspect that’s true to some degree in the rest of South Carolina. It’s hot, too.


“Thrips are around. I’ve been planting plots every week since April 13. In those first plots, plants have a couple of leaves and those look ragged from the thrips. Plots that were planted a week later have maybe one leaf sticking out and you can see some thrips injury. Where cotton was planted that next week, the leaves are unfurling but it’s still too early to say what thrips will do.


“Anything up until now will be susceptible to thrips and probably will need a foliar treatment. This dry weather impedes systemic insecticide movement into the plant, whether it’s from seed treatments or in-furrow materials. But the insecticidal seed treatments seem to be particularly affected by adverse conditions. If it doesn’t rain soon and trigger insecticide uptake, I expect to see thrips applications start pretty soon.”


Eddie McGriff, Regional Extension Agronomist, Centre, Alabama:

“We actually didn’t start planting cotton until May 1. Temperatures really dropped in the last couple of weeks of April, plus it rained, and that held up anyone who wanted to plant then. Some people are just finishing planting corn and are now trying to plant cotton, soybeans and/or peanuts.



“Growers are going hard with cotton planting and I would say we’re 20% planted (as of 5/8). Cotton acres will be up maybe 10% to 15%. Some new growers are coming into cotton this season and it’s been a challenge for them to find pickers.”


Andrew Sawyer, Extension Agent, Thomas County, Georgia:

“People started planting peanuts last week, which has accounted for a big part of the activity, but growers also have planted some cotton. Any cotton planting started more this week than last week.


“We’re hitting some summer-like high temperatures and it’s dry. So, you’ve got to go down a good 3 inches before finding moisture. Where people are planting cotton, they’re putting the seed in relatively shallow and hoping for a rain, although no rain is in the immediate forecast. I haven’t seen any cotton or peanuts up (as of 5/8).”


Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM, Marianna, Florida:

“It’s been hot and dry, and growers are mostly planting peanuts because they can go deeper to find moisture. As I drive around the county, I see a few fields where people have planted a little cotton but I haven’t noticed any out of the ground yet. But even with peanuts, not much appears to have emerged.


“We’ll need moisture before anyone starts pushing on cotton planting, and no rain is in the forecast for at least another week, plus the high temperatures have been right at 90 over the last few days (from 5/8).”


Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

"We’re planting but conditions are dry and we’ve lost moisture in a lot of dryland fields. Where growers have irrigation, they’ve moved over to those fields and are planting more of that ground now.


“We certainly could use a rain to help get this crop established. Still, though, we’re making progress and farmers are running wide open. At least 20% of the crop has been planted, maybe as much 25% (as of 5/8). It’s amazing now how much cotton Georgia growers can plant within a short window.”


Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:

"We have excellent planting temperatures for the foreseeable future but it’s very dry across a big part of our area. No rain is expected for the next 4 to 5 days (from 5/9).


“With this heat, cotton is emerging in 4 days. Any cotton planted on Friday and Saturday will start cracking the ground in 3 days, provided there’s moisture. That could be a record. We have about a 50% chance of up to a half-inch of rain early next week.” Editor’s Note: Connect to Parker’s planting forecast in our Links section.




Virginia Cotton: Excellent Planting Conditions But Moisture Running Short   5-9


Cotton – Southwest: Rain Would Help; Oklahoma Acres Up; RGV in Bloom – AgFax   5-9


Georgia Cotton Growers Hope to Rebound from 2017   5-9


Farm Business: Excel Pro Tip – Using the Subtotal Formula   5-8


Cotton: Sustainability Project Tops Million-Bale Mark In U.S. Last Year   5-8


Cotton: With Strong Market And Texas Weather, Full Agenda For Teleconference   5-8


Herbicide Resistance: Pigweed Lessons, Residual Strategies – AgFax Weed Solutions   5-8


Dicamba Drift: Can You Trust Those Apps, Websites 5-8


South Carolina Field Reports: Cotton, Peanut Planting Pick Up Pace   5-7


Georgia Field Reports: Dry Soils Slow Planting   5-7


Alabama Field Reports: Cotton, Peanut Planting in Full Gear   5-7


North Carolina Field Reports: Good Start to Cotton, Peanut, Soybean Plantings   5-7


Natalie Hummel Named Director of North Carolina Ag Research Services   5-7



More Cotton News | More Peanut News


AgFax Southeast Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC, Owen Taylor, Editorial Director. It is available to United States residents engaged in grain farming or qualifying ag-related professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. 601-992-9488 (Fax: 601-992-3503). Email: owen@agfax.com.

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