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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.




Cotton planting continues as people try to put in their last intended acres, replant in places or drop in a few more seed in response to stronger cotton prices.


Plant bugs remain a focus in parts of the Southeast. See comments by Alabama’s Ron Smith and North Carolina’s Dominic Reisig.


Georgia consultant John Beasley made an insightful observation about what this year’s wet conditions have cost on a per-acre basis. The fact that damage was mostly isolated to scattered low spots doesn’t mean it won’t have an overall and somewhat measurable effect on the bottom line. Amounts may vary, but there will be a cost. See his comments.




Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia:

“We’re probably 95% planted and I hope that in the next couple of days (from 6/18) that we can finish. Most of what’s left are places where it continues raining. During one period, it rained 3.5 inches at my house but in one field where I work it rained 20 inches during that same period.


“We’re also seeing issues with some preemerge herbicides that have been kind of hot, especially where cotton followed last year’s peanuts. You don’t want to find that in cotton that’s already late.


“We’re behind on field work and are still hoping to plant those last acres as soon as possible. The forecast calls for drier conditions, and that will help.


“Aphids are starting to show up but herbicides are the main thing on everyone’s mind. We haven’t necessarily had heavy weed pressure but fields are a little weedier than we usually expect. We will take care of them once it quits raining and we can move into the field again.


“We’re also trying to get herbicides on peanuts, plus apply fungicides. Corn doesn’t like this kind of weather. Generally, though, corn still looks good and disease pressure has been low. We’re finding some northern and southern corn leaf blight but no rust yet.”


Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama:

“We’re all over the board with this cotton crop – from some that may be 7 to 10 days from first bloom to cotton that’s just come up where it was planted behind carinata.


“Rainfall has gotten a lot better and most everyone has received some. It’s odd, though, how variable the weather can be. One farmer has 200 acres right on the river and still can’t catch a rain.


“Plant bugs still aren’t making a move. Square retention remains in the high 90s (percentage) and I’m not picking up plant bugs when I sweep or observing any in the terminals. I think this rain has kept daisy fleabane – plant bugs’ main host here – green and attractive. Normally, the worst plant bug pressure happens when the wild host dries up.


“Normally, plant bugs all move into cotton at the same time, but this year we may see a slower, lingering migration.”


Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina:

“Cotton is all over the board, from some just emerged to fields that might be squaring in 10 days. It’s been so wet that a lot of cotton was never planted in certain neighborhoods. Some of my growers were never able to plant more than 30% of their intended cotton acreage.


“If it’s too wet to plant cotton, it’s too wet to plant soybeans, so those have been going in late, as well. In those cases, the beans wouldn’t even qualify as early-planted doublecrop soybeans.


“We still have some pretty good situations but this spring’s weather extremes have really exceeded anything I can remember during the period when we’re trying to establish crops.


“We might deal with some plant bug issues this week. In places, we’re detecting slightly lower square retention and also found a few plant bugs last week. So, we may have to address plant bugs this week in our more mature cotton. Otherwise, we’re mainly dealing with nitrogen and weed control and also scouting for bugs.


“We’re finding a little stink bug pressure in corn in places. It’s nothing terrible. We also were finding a lot of stink bugs in wheat and in tobacco, in particular. It’s unusual to see them that thick in tobacco. I keep thinking that will translate into problems in other crops where they might do more damage.


“With this irregular weather, cotton is in many stages on the same farm and often even in the same field. That’s complicating decisions about what to do as we move through weed control and nitrogen applications.


“Even with all this rain, we still have areas where it’s pretty dry now. We certainly were inundated early, which made for a shallow root system where crops already had been planted. That’s often an issue we deal with anyway. Everything seems to be a challenge right now (6/18) but things are moving along much better than they were a few weeks ago.”


Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

“I’m getting more calls every day about tarnished plant bugs in cotton. Information on retention has been limited but people are concerned about the number of adults.


“We’re not talking about a localized situation. These calls are coming all the way from the Florida line to the Tennessee line, and this is mainly happening in April-planted cotton.


“A field man from Demopolis, which is on the western side of the state, said he checked 8 fields this morning (6/19) and 3 fields had what would be best described as swarms of adult plant bugs.


“A few aphids are clumping around in some fields. I’m advising folks to prevent aphids from adding stress to the crop. If they’re going across with a plant growth regulator or a herbicide, include something for aphids. In many cases, this crop already has been delayed due to early weather conditions, and we have acreage that will mature later than usual.


“I don’t know that treating aphids right now would help yields. However, it could prevent aphids from stressing plants and delaying progress toward maturity. It’s a relatively inexpensive treatment and the cotton market has been good, even with some retreating on price lately.



“If this cotton had been planted on time, we maybe could wait for that natural fungus to take out aphids, but it seems to take forever for it to build. Again, we don’t have that kind of time and you never know whether you’ll have a good, dry fall to help finish the crop and also for harvest.


“Everywhere I go, I’m seeing some level of brown stink bugs, regardless of the crop, and now we’ve started picking them up in pre-bloom cotton in Monroe County. I’ve already found them in corn, peanuts and soybeans. We’re not concerned about them in cotton yet, but they’ll go for the younger bolls as soon as the blooms drop if there are no older bolls for them to hit.”


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

“Cotton seems to be growing pretty well in fields that weren’t pounded by rain several weeks ago. We’re still in the middle of our layby herbicide and nitrogen programs.


“Questions now are mostly about Pix applications, along with increased interest in plant bugs. This dilemma about Pix is something we live with every year. Generally, we like to get plant grow regulators on cotton prior to bloom whenever favorable growth conditions exist. However, you need some rain about every 7 to 10 days to maintain favorable growth conditions at this point in the season.


“We usually don’t make any mistakes on the front side since most farmers don’t go with a full rate prior to bloom – just in case the rain cuts off.


“With plant bugs, fruit retention is the only concern prior to bloom and you have to lose 20% or more of the squares to justify treatment. Most Virginia fields usually maintain more than 90% of the squares prior to bloom, but we need to look. Most of the concern for plant bug damage is going to increase once cotton begins to bloom.


“If you’re finding 20% square loss, it’s a very cheap option to tank mix something like Admire Pro with Pix and that’s fairly effective prior to bloom. Neonics are not as effective, nor are they labeled after cotton starts blooming good.”


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

“A lot of cotton is squaring. But with the weather this spring, the crop is spread out from plants that are a week or two from blooming to some that are still in the cotyledon stage, with everything in between.


“On average, the crop is probably at 6 to 7 leaves. It’s a very hot week, which means it won’t be long before cotton needs moisture again, despite all the rain we’ve already had. Certain places qualify for being dry. If rain chances are minimal and a grower can irrigate, he probably needs to start pumping or at least get ready for it.


“With that said, the forecast looks somewhat promising for rain this week. The Blacklands and the southern part of the state got rain last night (6/18) and rain fell in other parts of the state the night before that. We just hope that continues enough that everyone gets the moisture they need. With these temperatures, cotton is growing really well. Plant bugs are picking up in areas in the northeast where they tend to be problems most years.”


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

“It’s hot and dry – 96 outside right now (afternoon, 6/19). We do have chances for afternoon thunderstorms by this weekend. We need that to happen.


“Plant bugs are scarce and people aren’t reporting anything going on with them. In one trial, we sampled 320 feet of row and didn’t find any plant bugs. Period. You would expect to see at least a few. Those plants each have 3 or 4 squares, so the cotton should be attractive. Any square loss could simply be due to physiological stress, but I think retention was still above 75%.


“Thrips are done, even on replanted cotton in the northern part of the state. We’re now into that period when the activity typically centers on plant bugs, aphids and spider mites. To my knowledge, we don’t have problems right now with any of those.”


John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia:

“I think most everyone will finish planting cotton this week. We’re past our insurance deadline, so anything now doesn’t have coverage.


“One grower took prevented planting on some acreage where the rain kept him out of the field. I can’t recall another time when one of my growers did that. But he had a good history and that seemed to be his best option.


“Cotton ranges from just being planted to the most advanced at 12 nodes. No blooms yet (as of 6/19). Some aphids are starting to show up, nothing that we would treat. Historically, we don’t have much plant bug pressure in this part of the state. So far, that’s the case right now.


“It’s been a tough planting season. All the things that delayed planting also worked against weed control. So, we’ve got a pretty ugly crop – but, we can turn it around.


“With all the rain, nearly every field has places where water stood long enough to do damage. Those areas had to be replanted or growers ended up with skippy stands. Or, they weren’t able to replant and there’s nothing in spots.


“I figure that in nearly every field, 5% of the acres will only yield 50% of what the rest of the farm will produce. When you run the numbers, that works out to a $20-an-acre loss once you spread it across a farm’s total acreage. It’s like a $20 penalty per acre on cotton and peanuts.


“A specific acre may have escaped any problems, but it will have to absorb at least part of the losses from those problem spots.


“Several growers quit planting peanuts 2 weeks ago and switched those acres to cotton. So, we probably have a little more cotton than expected. One grower who plants a lot of peanuts probably switched 400 acres to cotton.


“We’ve needed dry weather after it was wet for a month. People caught up and started planting again. Now, though, we’re to the point that we need a rain by the end of the week.”


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

“Plant bugs are obvious in places. One consultant who deals with them every year mentioned that they turned up 10 days earlier than normal in his area and he’s finding them everywhere.



“He took his crew to a field to show them how to sweep and they kept turning up plant bugs. He asked if he should treat them this early and I said, ‘Absolutely, yes.’ A good deal of work has been done on plant bugs in North Carolina and Virginia and one commonality was to treat early if plant bugs were present just as plants start squaring.


“They can take off those early fruiting positions and you can’t always know if you’ll have the kind of fall to compensate for those early losses. Essentially, the studies showed a higher net return for spraying early in those cases.


“We are in a tough situation because we have an adult migration going on and you will have additional movement into the field after that first treatment.


(Editor’s Note: After writing Dominic Reisig’s report for this week, he emailed us the following addition:

“After we spoke, another consultant called to tell me that this will be the first year he’s had to spray pre-bloom cotton for plant bugs. Seems they are widespread and early.)


“Several guys have sprayed stink bugs in corn in the northeast part of the state. However, don’t assume you’ve got to spray. I visited 3 different growers but only one had corn that needed to be treated. Sometimes it’s clear what the source of stink bugs is, such as they’re moving off wheat. Other times, you don’t know.


“When scouting, check edges first. If they’re not on the edges, they likely aren’t in the middle of the corn field. If the field adjoins a wooded area, start by scouting on that side of the field.”


“Reports are still coming in about snails. This is an odd thing since slugs are typically the main pest when we get into this kind of pattern. Slugs take bites out of leaf edges or cotyledons and it’s really irregular. Snails, though, leave what looks almost like a cigarette burn. Mostly, though, they just seem to be sitting on plants.


“Up until now, the calls have been about snails on cotton, but someone today (6/19) asked about snails on soybeans. I guess it’s just a snaily kind of year.”




Farm Bill: Progress and Potential Hurdles   6-20


Thompson On Cotton: One Hiccup And Back To 90 Cents?   6-20


Alabama Cotton: Plant Bug Management – Bollworm Problems 6-19


North Carolina Cotton: Section 18 Approved for Transform for Plant Bugs   6-20


Georgia Crops: Conditions Perfect for Disease   6-19


Georgia Peanuts: Scout for Lesser Cornstalk Borer, Southern Corn Rootworm   6-19


Arkansas Cotton: As Acres Rebound, So Do Gin Numbers   6-19


Virginia Cotton: Managing Pix and Plant Bugs   6-19


Georgia Pecans: Points To Remember As Summer Progresses – Podcast   6-18




More Cotton News/a> | 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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