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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.



Moisture, at last. Rain began falling this week across parts of our coverage area after a prolonged stretch of hot, dry weather. Planting had stopped on a wide basis due to a lack of soil moisture – or, growers had resorted to dusting in cotton seed. Enough rain has at least fallen in places to allow growers to begin planting again.


Grasshoppers. Here’s the catch with grasshoppers this year – in parts of the lower Southeast the ratio of adults to immatures appears to be running ahead of the curve. Adults are harder to kill, so insecticide decisions will have to be more selective. See comments by Ron Smith and Phillip Roberts.


Thrips. With hot and dry weather, thrips have been building to damaging levels on some slow-growing cotton. A few treatments have at least been recommended this week. How much thrips remain a factor will partly depend on how much it rains this week. Hard rains may suppress numbers and also give plants a needed boost to grow past the so-called thrips window.


White margined burrower bugs. These infrequent pests are developing in spotty but high numbers in parts of Georgia.




Brandon Dillard, Regional Agronomist, Geneva, Alabama:

“It’s dry and hot, and that’s brought cotton planting mostly to a halt. We’re expecting and hoping for a shower tomorrow (5/15). It will be much needed and much appreciated if it does develop.


“About 50% of our expected cotton crop has been planted and about 60% of the peanuts have been planted, so we still have quite a bit left to do. Peanut planting does continue where they can put seed into deeper moisture. A little cotton planting is still going on but most people have pulled back for the time being.


“Cotton acres will generally be up in my area, I thing. Better cotton prices are pushing some of that but part of it may relate to rotation or generic base factors. Overall, cotton acres probably will increase by 15% in the Wiregrass. Some cotton has emerged. Mostly, that ranges from just coming up to one true leaf. A small amount may be at the 2-leaf stage. We don’t have any extremely early-planted cotton this year due to cold conditions in April.


“In places, growers have sprayed a little for grasshoppers.


“A lot of farmers are really pumping the water to corn, although we don’t have a lot of corn in our area this year. Part of those irrigated corn acres either went to cotton or peanuts. It’s hard to make $4 corn pay. Growers with soybeans have already planted a good deal of acres. We’ve been preaching the idea of starting soybeans early, and more growers appear to be taking that to heart. So, we have early beans that are already up. Oat harvest has started.”


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

“It’s raining off and on right now (mid-day, 5/15), at least in parts of the state. After all the dry, hot weather, this is what we need. A lot of people held off planting more cotton right away because it had gotten so dry. Compared to our normal planting trend, we’re a little behind because of that. Other than some thrips in cotton, I don’t know of anything out of the ordinary, just business as usual.”


Chad Savery, Agromax LLC, Fairhope, Alabama:

“It’s been dry enough that a bunch of growers put their planters away last week and will wait for a rain before they plant any more cotton. But I also know of farmers who are dusting in seed now. We’ve had little showers in spots and it’s thundering right now (afternoon, 5/14). Cotton acres will be up at least some and that ground will come out of peanuts.


“How far into cotton or peanut planting anyone has progressed will partly depend on the location. In Baldwin County, they tend to plant peanuts first but in the Atmore area they’ll run about 50/50 between cotton planting and peanut planting. One way or the other, a good deal of ground hasn’t been planted yet.



“A number of people who haven’t planted cotton in several years will have some this year. In one case, several growers went into together and formed an LLC that will own a picker that they’ll share for their own cotton. But they’ll also contract to pick other farmers’ cotton.”


Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:

“We haven’t had nearly the problems getting cotton up that we did last year when it was raining so much. These have been ideal conditions.


“The pivots are about to start running over corn. In droughty spots the leaves are twisting a little. Rain is in the forecast for Thursday – a 60% chance. But if that doesn’t happen, more pivots will be running, I think.


“With cotton, we’ll probably have 80% of our intended acres planted by the end of the day (5/14). Of the cotton already planted, probably 60% is up. Cotton generally has enough moisture. Growers watered maybe 3 fields to bring up cotton to a stand, just to be on the safe side. Some guys have been planting down to the second knuckle to find moisture. My cotton acres probably will be up a little. Some dryland acres shifted from corn to cotton.”


Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:

“We’re nearing the end of cotton planting, I think, and it mostly happened in a hurry. We started out with wet and cold weather, which held people back from planting a lot before early May. I won’t say that the crop was delayed. About the time we could start planting, we moved into that optimum window for planting. We hit things just about right from that standpoint.


“Cold and wet weather did hold people back from planting corn and we were just finishing the last of it when people could start into cotton. Our growers have been running just about nonstop for 2 weeks (as of 5/15) with cotton planting, and we can see light at the end of the tunnel.


“We do need rain now. We started with plentiful soil moisture and still have deep subsoil moisture. But temperatures increased and we haven’t had rain lately. Along with bringing up the later cotton, a good rain right now is needed to activate herbicides. The forecast carries a chance of rain over the next 5 to 7 days. People are trying to get as much done ahead of that as possible.


“Overall, our wheat crop looks pretty good. A couple of weeks ago the temperatures were cooler, which was perfect for grain filling. Highs now are running 88 to 90 degrees, so wheat is turning in a hurry. At this rate, I would expect some harvest to start in the first week of June.”


Mark Freeman, Extension Area Agronomist, East Georgia, Statesboro:

“It’s actually raining today (5/15) after this long stretch of dry and hot weather. Up until now, almost no dryland cotton has been planted in eastern Georgia. After this rain comes through, I expect planters to gear up and start rolling. So far, we have had a decent of amount of irrigated cotton planted. Hardly any dryland peanuts have been planted.”


Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University:

“I’m planting in the Blacklands today (5/15) under sunny skies with a few clouds but no rain yet. Planting progress is all over the board, depending mainly on showers. Several guys have said they will wrap up planting before rain comes in, so they will be done or close to it today or tomorrow. But I also have talked with growers who might be halfway finished.


“Overall, I suspect that we’re 60% to 70% planted statewide. We’re certainly good to go for heat units if the forecast holds It’s also calling for 2 to 4 inches of rain in places and at least some chance of rain from tomorrow (5/16) and into next week. We sure don’t need a packing rain where seed haven’t emerged, but a light rain would likely help with surface crusting.


“Along those same lines, we don’t need standing water, soils going sour and seed rotting. But if the heat continues, that will help things dry up faster. Whether we receive as much rain as they’re predicting, who knows? If you get past 3 or 4 days, forecasts tend to be less reliable. But heat and sunshine will go a long way, even if evening showers develop.”


Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

“It’s raining, and I think we’ll all get some. That’s good. The rain here has mostly been in little bands (as of late afternoon, 5/15). It will rain and then quit and then the sky darkens and it rains some more.


“This will get people on track again where they’re still trying to plant. We’re not halfway finished with cotton planting yet but are at least over 40%.


“Thrips are kind of all over the board, ranging from very low numbers to perhaps moderate populations. Some oversprays are being made in April-planted cotton. That’s just in spots.


“I’m getting calls about a couple of other insects, too. One of them is grasshoppers. Check stands closely for grasshoppers, especially if they were obvious at planting. It’s a very unpredictable pest and, if left unattended, can potentially push you into replanting some cotton. If you’re losing stands, you really need to address this problem.


“Immatures are highly sensitive to just about any insecticide at the full labeled rate, but adults are pretty tough, so be more selective about the chemistry you use. I’m talking with folks now who have a combination of adults and immatures, so that complicates the approach.


“The main thing is to scout and determine if they’re causing damage, like chewing into the stem to the point that the plant falls over. I’m not talking about a lot of fields like that. But the last thing you want is to have to replant a dryland field in a season when moisture has been short.


“People also are finding the white margined burrower bug in spots. It’s black with a reddish-orange abdomen and has little black marks on top of its abdomen. This is a different burrower bug than what we typically see in peanuts. People sent me photographs showing 25 on a cotyledon plant. They’ll suck on plants and can damage or kill them if in high enough numbers.



“I believe that one of the reasons we’re having problems with them – and grasshoppers, as well – is that they’re looking for moisture. As dry as it’s been, those cotton plants are the only source, so they’re feeding on plant sap. If you find 15 to 20 per plant, be concerned. They could at least stunt plants. In rare cases, I’ve seen them kill stands in small parts of fields. It does appear that the neonic treatments – either on the seed or as a liquid in the furrow – have activity on them.”


Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

“We’ve had showers today (5/15) in places, and the forecast has called for a 50% to 70% chance of rain today, tomorrow and maybe on Thursday. We need it. Things are very, very dry, and it sounds like a lot of planting halted due to lack of soil moisture.


“Cotton I’ve looked at this week is just kind of sitting there, and at that rate it doesn’t take many thrips to crinkle leaves. Plants aren’t growing and seed treatments probably didn’t activate well in the absence of moisture. I’ve been in some cotton today that was borderline for needing a foliar thrips application, and that’s what I recommended. If it wasn’t dry, I doubt if we would need to treat thrips.


“Grasshoppers are widespread this year in conservation-tillage fields. They’re around every year but tend to be worse after dry weather. What’s troubling this year is that we’re finding more adult grasshoppers in fields than might be expected in mid-May. March was abnormally warm and temperatures drive development. These populations are far enough along that grasshoppers are flying, not just jumping.


“With immatures, you can easily gain control with just about any insecticide. But adults are harder to kill. The most success we’ve had has been with 0.6 lb/acre of acephate.”


Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia:

“We’re 60% to 70% finished with planting cotton and all of my growers have wrapped up the full-season acreage. We haven’t started harvesting oats or wheat, and cotton will go behind those crops.


“Everyone is waiting to see how much it rains. It’s been dry and hot and we ran out of soil moisture. Essentially, we’ve had little or no rain in the first half of May. A number of growers started dusting in cotton about a week ago (from 5/15) on their dryland acreage. The forecast kept telling us it would rain in 4 or 5 days. So far, we’ve gotten just enough rain to cause a lot of replanting if it doesn’t rain some more.


“In general, cotton seed doesn’t sit there as long as we expected it in the past. You could dust it in and it might hold for as much as 30 days. The varieties people plant now don’t seem to give you that flexibility. I suspect it’s got something to do with genetics. As you add traits and improve one thing, you maybe compromise another strength.


“But our irrigated cotton has also been struggling to come up this year. It’s under a good deal of stress. This season reminds me a lot of 2011 when it was really dry. Where you’re putting herbicides on behind the planter, plus going with a preplant burndown, that’s bound to add some stress.


“And when you have to start watering to germinate seed and gain a stand, that adds another kind of stress. Running a pivot 5 or 6 times means you’re putting cold water on seed and sprouting plants when they need warmer soils. That has got to be a factor, especially if the cool germ is off a little.


“We’re starting thrips sprays later this week, adding an insecticide when we go across with herbicides. Thrips are pretty tough in some fields and behind certain seed treatments.


“I’m working a lot of vegetables this year and tarnished plant bugs are really bad in some of those fields. If I had to guess, I’d say they could be an issue later in cotton, although it’s maybe too early to make a blanket statement. I’m also checking a lot of sweet corn and have corn earworm and fall armyworm traps scattered around, and they’ve started catching a lot of moths in the last couple of days.


“We’re probably 70% finished with peanut planting. Our oldest are 38 days old and we started some crack sprays for weeds last weed. So far, stands look pretty good.”




Alabama Cotton: Keep Watch for Blue Disease   5-16


Tennessee Cotton, Soybeans: Scout Fresh Planted Fields for Pigweed   5-16


Georgia: 2 Insect Scouting Schools, June 11, 19   5-16


Cotton – Southwest: Tough Decisions; Blooming Expands – AgFax   5-16


Georgia Peanuts: When Planting, Soil Temperature Is Key   5-16


Shurley on Cotton: Exports, Production Uncertainty Should Offer Price Support   5-15


Seed Cotton Provisions and the Farm Bill – Everything You Need to Know   5-15


Virginia Fields: Dry, Planting   5-15


Alabama Fields: Dry – Planting Where Able   5-15


South Carolina Fields: Drought – Planting, Crop Stress   5-15


Georgia Fields: Cool and Wet to Hot and Dry   5-15


North Carolina Fields: Planting – Dry Weather   5-15


North Carolina Cotton: Weigh Planting Risks Ahead Of Potential Storms   5-14


North Carolina Cotton: Warm Temps and Chance of Rain… and Thunderstorms   5-14


Alabama Cotton, Peanuts: Dryland Herbicide Applications Under Hot, Dry Conditions   5-14



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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