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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.
By any measure, this is a stretched-out cotton crop. Our contacts continue telling us about finding blooms in fields that are just down the road from cotton that has barely emerged. We hesitate to declare that all of the cotton has been planted. Who knows?
Plant bugs remain a concern in parts of our coverage area. See comments by Alabama’s Ron Smith and North Carolina’s Dominic Reisig.
Aphids are turning up in more places. In late-planted cotton, this won’t be a year to hold out for the aphid fungus. See comments by Georgia’s Phillip Roberts.
Storms over the last week brought (or maybe dumped) more rain through parts of the Atlantic Southeast. In places, 7 or more inches fell, further delaying field work. The rain was a mixed blessing. Certain areas were on the verge of seeing cotton slip into stress but one part of North Carolina, in particular, received way too much.
Bacterial blight continues to progress up some cotton plants in Georgia, according to a tweet posted by Bob Kemerait, Georgia Extension Plant Pathologist. Connect to his comments and photos in our Links section.
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:
“We’ve about got all of our cotton planted, I think. At this point (6/26), the crop ranges from yet-to-emerge to some that’s blooming. As ranges go, that’s a lot.
“The most common questions this week are about aphids. They’re building but intensity varies a good deal by location. That’s typically the case. But people are generally watching this cotton closer, especially those late-planted fields. In places, aphids are building on 2- and 3-leaf plants.
“It’s in our interest, I think, to remove aphid-related stress from this very late cotton. We have to be concerned about any delays in maturity and what it will take to finish these late fields. We don’t have thresholds for this situation, so it’s a judgment call. In most years, we rarely spray anything for aphids because we hardly see a yield response. But with 2- and 3-leaf cotton, we can’t afford to lose any time.
“Plant bugs are around but numbers are relatively low – although treatments are necessary in sporadic fields. That’s the nature of the pest in Georgia. Scout for problems. If you find them, address them.
“In checking fields and in conversations with consultants, we will have stink bugs in cotton this year. I don’t want to predict that they will be bad but a lot of them already are in the system. So when cotton starts setting bolls, we need to be on our toes.
“At least right now, it appears that the whitefly won’t be a problem in cotton in 2018 like what we experienced in 2017. We’ve been monitoring traps since December and also have been in close consultation with the vegetable groups, and nothing points to anything close to what we dealt with last year. That’s not to say they won’t build in historic areas, but I feel very optimistic that they won’t build in counties that fall outside of their typical geographic range.”
John Burleson, Consultant, Swan Quarter, North Carolina:
“With the weather we’ve had this year, our crop is spread out. Cotton ranges from the 6-leaf stage to the oldest at early to mid-square. The weather still isn’t cooperating. We’re getting rain in places every other day and for some guys it won’t let up.
“We still have wheat in the field in places. A lot of soybeans are still in the bag, and a good deal of beans will be planted in July.
“In cotton, we’re treating a few aphids. No plant bug applications have gone out yet. In some fields, the grass is taller than the cotton, and we’re just getting to the point that we can deal with that. Sidedress fertilizer is going out.
“We’re checking corn for stink bugs but have yet to see a threshold. Corn is up and down in terms of growth. A lot of the crop is just starting to tassel but some already has gone through pollination. We still have time to make a decent crop.”
Trey Bullock, Bullock's Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi:
“In some of the older cotton, we can find isolated plant bugs but don’t have any issues with them, as such. Our very oldest cotton started blooming 10 days ago (from 6/25). It’s on the west side near the Mississippi River but it only has been blooming in the Hattiesburg area since last Saturday.
“Cotton actually looks pretty good – maybe as good as it’s ever been at this point in the year. Any eyesores tend to be where too much rain fell just behind planting. Aphids are picking up here and there.
“Fungicides just started going out this week on our oldest peanuts. We’re picking up caterpillars in some fields but nothing we’re treating quite yet. Maybe 100 acres of peanuts need to be sprayed for cutworms and fall armyworms, and a lot of those falls came off grass that was in the field. When we killed the grass, they moved onto the peanuts.
“Peanuts look wonderful, they have moisture and are growing like a weed. We’re actually lining up plant growth regulator sprays now.”
Brad Smith, Crop Production Services, Selma, Alabama:
“Aphids are beginning to build in cotton. We’re finding scattered plant bugs. It’s nothing major yet but they are out there.
“As a whole, cotton looks good. We still have several acres to sidedress after all the rain delays. Of course, we’re very thankful for the rain. A lot of cotton will need plant growth regulators. We’re also still replanting cotton today (6/25) and a few beans are being planted, reluctantly.
“Mostly, people are just finishing patches. Some of that was never planted earlier because of weather delays. When the weather opened up, the main focus had to be on cotton, so some bean acreage remained on hold. In places, field corn is far enough along that it’s past the need for a fungicide.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“Since the weekend, we’ve had widely scattered thunderstorms though a lot of the state. Cotton is moving along. No calls are coming in with complaints, so I’m assuming things are good to go.
“We checked a group of trials and retention was 90-something-percent. Through all the plots, we only found a few plant bugs. We’re into that period when the focus is on aphids, spider mites and plant bugs. But until we get some blooms out there, things are mostly in a holding pattern with plant bugs.
“I haven’t heard a single person mention mites all year. We had one really dry period but things were wet before that and they’re wet now, which aren’t conditions that favor mites. Aphids are turning up here and there. Mostly, we’re just plugging along, looking at plant growth regulator timing and watching the calendar.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:
“I know of a few stink bugs being treated in squaring cotton. We don’t recommend that but some folks think that they knock off squares and a little evidence in the literature says that stink bugs might do that. Again, though, it’s not something we recommend.
“The main thing right now is plant bugs. As I said last week, they seem to have arrived earlier than normal. Treatments are going out and are more widespread than normal for pre-bloom cotton. We’re now finding immatures in cotton, so reproduction is underway.
“Where people are finding the most intense pressure, I hope those growers are thinking about using the insect growth regulator Diamond as part of their approach. It’s shown good results in the Midsouth when plant bugs are reproducing in the field.
“We’re seeing resistance to some insecticides, as well. This is turning up in both pyrethroids and OP materials. We’re fortunate to have gained a Section 18 emergency use permit to apply Transform for plant bug control. Resistance can vary somewhat by location or year, but in 2016 the pyrethroids in our screening trials performed no better than what we found in our untreated check.
“Sally Taylor (Extension Entomologist, Virginia Tech) has been collecting plant bugs in Virginia and North Carolina and is finding resistance among this year’s North Carolina samples. Those are preliminary results but it does parallel what we’re seeing in the field.
“Some corn earworm (CEW) activity is taking shape, based on trap counts. This is the generation that will go into corn, and a student has had no problem finding CEW in early corn. CEW also are turning up in some soybeans. I would be really conservative when it comes to treatment decisions in soybeans. Going in with a pyrethroid could knock out beneficials and lead to more spraying later.
“Don’t go with an automatic spray or include an insecticide just because you’re going across the field. Scout closely, pay attention to thresholds and be selective in terms of materials if you do treat. Give beneficial insects a chance.”
Jack Royal, Royal’s Agricultural Consulting Co., Inc., Leary, Georgia:
“Cotton is doing pretty well. Our oldest is entering first bloom and some is just at the pre-square stage. Those fields were planted late due to all the rain.
“A few plant bugs are around but I’m not seeing anything close to terrible. We’ve sprayed a handful of fields – nothing with heavy numbers, just counts right at threshold. We’re going over the cotton with a plant growth regulator, mainly Pentia, and are adding something for plant bugs if we’re finding these near-threshold numbers.
“We’re sidedressing cotton and laying it by. But we also have some young cotton where we’re just making the first over-the-top herbicide application.
“We have peanuts pegging pretty heavily now (6/25) and we’re putting on the second fungicide and watering hard, but we also have later fields that are just at their first fungicide. The oldest were planted in the last part of April and into early May. Overall, this has been a season with plenty of delays and we’re going to need a mighty good October and November to get this all out – both the cotton and the peanuts.”
Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University:
“It’s rained enough to keep people out of the field in the first part of this week unless they have sandy and well-drained soils. In some areas, totals have run 7 or 8 inches.
“Everyone at least has adequate moisture now (6/26) and our Blacklands region has too much. Those are high-organic soils and fields are nearly at sea level, so it takes longer to drain that ground after heavy rains.
“For a lot of people, the rain did come at a good time. The weather last week was incredibly hot, and any squaring cotton would have lost yield potential without rain. In the Blacklands, though, ditches are full and a lot of cotton is waterlogged and looks like it’s drowning.
“Sidedressing was underway last week and early plant growth regulator applications were going out, too. Everyone will get in the field again as soon as possible and growth regulators will be a priority. This cotton is really growing.
“Plant bug treatments have been going out in the northeastern part of the state, which tends to have more plant bug activity in most years. But they’re also picking up in other areas, including in counties where people weren’t finding plant bugs last week.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:
“People in the field say they’re not finding as many adult plant bugs as they were last week – and not all of those fields have been sprayed. I suspect that most adult plant bugs that moved into cotton a week or two ago (from 6/26) are no longer with us. They did their thing – meaning, they mated and left eggs in the field – and then they died.
“Plenty of plant bugs are still out there, although not necessarily in the cotton yet. We’ve been collecting plant bugs for a project conducted by Virginia Tech and found an abundant number in Cherokee County this week in daisy fleabane. In 10 minutes, 5 of us with sweep nets collected 1,000 for the project. We also had no trouble catching that many at Prattville, and most were adults.
“Daisy fleabane is the primary host for plant bugs in Alabama before they move into cotton, and any patch of fleabane that’s still fresh will have an ample number of plant bugs. We should see movement from that host to cotton for several more weeks. So, if you’re not finding plant bugs in cotton right now, just wait.
“Scattered afternoon storms continue to develop. I haven’t been anyplace lately that was dry. It’s always rained there the day before. I saw blooms in cotton planted on April 30 in Cherokee County. This crop is certainly variable in terms of age, but as a whole, cotton looks promising statewide.
“We’ve collected a lot of corn earworms in central Alabama over the last 2 weeks to ship to a group that’s monitoring resistance. Based on stages we’re seeing, we’re about 20 days away from the next generation of moths coming into cotton. At that point, we’ll have to be concerned about worms on two-gene cotton and we’ll have to shift our focus from a single pest – plant bugs – to also monitoring for worms and escaped worms.”
Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:
“Pix has become a high priority. With this last weather system, rain fell across a wide area and over 8 inches fell in spots. Most of our cotton has a 2.0 height-to-node ratio or higher. When the internode between the fourth and fifth node is over 2 inches, then the cotton growth rate is high.
“Pix should give us good control and provide a yield response. I like to apply about 8 ounces of Pix on cotton that is between 20 and 24 inches tall prior to bloom where the field already has its nitrogen and when soil moisture is good. If plants are 24 to 28 inches tall, I would go with 12 ounces.
“Prior to bloom, we like to get some Pix on before it hits 30 inches. But this year we’ve lost so many days in the field that it has been a challenge to make that happen. As a result, we need to apply a pint of Pix on any 30-inch cotton ASAP.
“We are trying to get a handle on whether the plant bugs have increased after all the rain. Counts are down in a field or two, but we will know more as the week progresses. Early square removal under 20% is insignificant, particularly on this first-planted cotton.
“Dealing with plant bugs is a bit like fighting a battle with muskets and not wanting to shoot too soon. If you pull the trigger, then you’ve got to reload, so wait until you can make that shot count. As blooming progresses, the need to protect the crop from plant bugs will steadily increase.”
Mark Freeman, Extension Area Agronomist, East Georgia:
“I’ve seen cotton this week that was blooming and within a mile of it I also saw cotton that was still in the cotyledon stage. That’s how varied this crop is. Everything does look positive. Where we have squares, retention is pretty good.
“We’ve had enough rainfall in the last week or so to really help. The main questions are about Pix and managing growth in pre-bloom cotton. Our approach is to make a pre-bloom application if it’s an aggressive variety and conditions are good for vegetative growth. By conditions, we mean available moisture, the fertility program, the kind of ground and the field’s history. From 6 to 10 ounces is the rate, depending on the actual stage of the crop and how big plants are.
“One county agent who’s participating in our on-farm trials said today (6/27) that we wouldn’t be able to do his trial this year. Rain has continued to delay things and the farmer decided to file for prevented planting on the acreage where we hoped to do the trial. The grower was able to plant most of his crop. But with that field, he never caught enough of an opening.”
Georgia Cotton: Bob Kemerait On Bacterial Blight
Sawyer on Crops: Late Cotton – Keep Watch for Aphids – Podcast 6-27
Thompson On Cotton: Hints Ahead On Chinese Buying? 6-27
Alabama Cotton: Heavy Plant Bug Season May Become Reality 6-21
Florida Peanuts: Lesser Cornstalk Borers – 8 Management Questions 6-25
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