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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.
A bit more cotton is opening in the lower Southeast. Usually, that signifies that the end is just over the horizon. But with so much of the 2018 crop planted late, things will drag deep into the fall.
Plant bug activity has ramped up in North Carolina, probably the result of more corn drying down. See comments by Dominic Reisig.
Whitefly treatments have started in a few more areas in Georgia. Thunderstorms have likely suppressed adult plant bugs in both Alabama and Georgia.
Rainfall continues to complicate matters in a number of areas. Heavy and/or persistent rains have delayed treatments and triggered more disease pressure.
Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia:
“Some of our cotton is opening and some is just starting to bloom where rain kept delaying planting. It’s like 2 seasons in one. Now, everything is going wrong and ugly due to more rain and disease.
“Target spot has blown up. Generally, we start seeing target spot in the second week of July, but it wasn’t that active then. Things changed after that last system came out of the Gulf of Mexico with 4 or 5 days of rain. Target spot simply exploded and we’ve got a little bit of everything else out there, disease-wise. Fungicides have been going out on most of it. With the later planted cotton, we hoped to dodge it, but target spot is working on it now, too.
“In terms of insects, we haven’t had a lot of pressure. We’ve treated a few fields for worms but consultants in areas north and south of us have had a rougher time with worms, it seems. Stink bugs have been in a field here or there. We did detect an increase last week. They’re picking up in peanuts, too. Stink bugs aren’t a problem in peanuts, but seeing higher numbers in peanuts is an indicator about how they might trend in cotton.
“Where any cotton is opening, it’s in the earliest fields, although we don’t have a lot of those acres this year. However, I expect that we’ll see a good roll of opening in 7 to 10 days (from 8/13).
“In corn, we’ve just started harvest and yields are a lot better than we expected, considering the weather this summer. Yields I’ve heard are at least decent and maybe a little above average. We’re keeping peanuts fairly well coated with fungicides. I’ve picked up a little white mold but peanut diseases have been fairly quiet so far this year, so I guess we’re doing a good job with fungicides. We’ve sprayed a few peanuts for loopers.”
Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama:
“I’m picking up some stink bug damage and finding a few plant bugs, mainly clouded. We’re doing a cleanup shot with a pyrethroid to take care of whatever is out there. In places, I can’t find the actual stink bugs, just the damage. In terms of insects, that about it. I sampled a lot of bolls today and only found one with worm damage.
“Our oldest cotton already has one or two open bolls on each plant. We’ve had a few spotty showers, just 2 or 3 tenths but not the inch that we need to keep going. We’re still hoping for rain and the forecast calls for a 60% chance over the next 2 to 3 days (from 8/13).
“Some of our younger cotton will need water 3 or 4 more times to get it closer to being made. Our youngest cotton was planted in late June, and it’s not blooming yet. Fields planted in mid-June are blooming and putting on a few bolls, and I think that cotton has a pretty good chance.
“Our older cotton has really nice potential. I like our prospects right now if we can keep getting rain.”
Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina:
“The saga continues, at least in terms of this year’s rain. Some guys got 7 inches over the weekend (8/11-12) and most growers received 3 inches. In the last 3 weeks, the bulk of my clients have had over 15 inches.
“We went from a pretty intense drought into this wet pattern. Some people missed rain over the weekend and are making headway with insect applications and such. What few aerial applicators we still have in this area are doing what they can. Aside from less aerial capacity now, this area also is somewhat urbanized, so that limits them on certain fields.
“Plant bug and stink bug pressure continues. Weather delays pushed us into some June-planted cotton. With all this rain, we’re hammering it with mepiquat chloride now.
“A good deal more plant bug pressure has developed than we’ve ever seen, and we’re trying to figure out when it will be behind us and when we can terminate treatments. I’ve been talking with consultants I know in the Midsouth about this since plant bugs are a regular problem in those states. A consultant in Louisiana said we’re probably not as close to the end with plant bugs as I thought we were.
“Even with all the rain, some of this crop looks better than I ever imagined it would. You can see drastic differences in crop conditions, often from one farm to the next, and a lot may depend on when the crop was planted and how development lined up with these storms and saturated conditions.
“All the rain has led to nutritional issues – some that can be fixed and others that can’t. So much variability is out there that it’s hard to say how this crop will turn out. The little bit of timely planted cotton has pretty good size bolls into the top. I’ve been surprised in the past about how well cotton finished in some seasons like this. With a beautiful fall, we can still make a nice crop.
“This rain is affecting all the crops. Some sweet potato growers were never able to cultivate their fields, and they have a limited number of herbicide options. Now the vines have covered the ground and those fields are really weedy, plus growth has been poor due to saturated soils.
“Again, though, if you go a few miles down the road, planting dates may have been more favorable or it rained slightly less, and those sweet potatoes look alright.
“I saw one little field of corn being harvested yesterday (8/13). If it would dry out, I think more people would be moving along with harvest.
“Most of our soybeans are at least blooming. We also have some fields all the way to R6. Corn earworms have not been extremely intense and rainfall probably had something to do with suppressing them, although we have treated in places. Stink bugs have been in the more mature beans for a while and are building a bit. We’re also seeing a few loopers.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia:
“I found our first open boll last week, which is about the normal timing for us. One or two growers always jump out early and plant a little, then there’s usually a bit of a gap before more is planted.
“This year, they planted that first cotton in the last week of April. In a normal year, we’d expect to find more open bolls this week. But the way the weather ran, people couldn’t keep planting right away, so we have a wider-than-usual gap before that next round of planting started. It was so wet this spring that a lot of growers couldn’t do much planting until the latter part of May or the first of June.
“We’ve sprayed a few escaped worms, just light numbers, and stink bugs have been really sporadic.
“I haven’t treated any whitefly and don’t think that will be necessary. But I did alter my insecticide approach for stink bug control because in places I’m seeing a few more adult and immature whitefly low in the plant. I don’t want to flare them. These aren’t big numbers but enough to put me on alert. I would have used Bidrin and bifenthrin for stink bugs but dropped the Bidrin and went with straight bifenthrin.
“The big thing now is disease in cotton. That includes target spot. Areolate mildew is present, too, and we maybe have more than our share of it. Bacterial blight is showing up, as well, but not like last year. I’ve only seen one field where it’s developed on bolls.
“As far as fungicides go, I’m not treating if cotton is in the fifth or sixth week of bloom. We are treating younger cotton if it has good potential, it’s maybe a little big and it’s either irrigated or getting a lot of water.
“Rainfall has been okay and we’re still getting showers. We turned on some pivots but I don’t think I have anything that’s actually stressed due to lack of moisture.
“In peanuts, we’re battling leaf spot in places. Velvetbean caterpillars (VBC) are out there. That’s a pest you can almost set your calendar by. Last week, numbers ran as high as 23 to the foot in spots. Luckily, they’re easy to kill. With a lot of worms, activity slows down a bit as we get into September. But VBC and fall armyworms don’t play by those rules.”
Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:
“Strong cutout is beginning in our oldest cotton. Much of this cotton has a tremendous boll load that is quite mature. Fields that started blooming at the end of June could show us some open bolls in August.
“The in-season management of this cotton is pretty much over now that bolls are safe. That applies to about a third of our crop, but about half of our crop will be to that point in the next week or so. The remaining cotton was planted later or is otherwise still blooming heavily. It still might benefit from an application in the second half of August, either based on growth or insect thresholds.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:
“We had a bad run with spider mites in the Wiregrass last week. A number of folks did treat, and we may be over the hump now. I still can’t fully explain why we had the problem in that part of Alabama this year, although it seems to be associated with foliar applications for thrips. Apparently, it didn’t matter which material was used. Where people have had mite issues, they sprayed for thrips.
“If you have late-maturing bolls that are less than 25 days old, it’s still necessary to scout for and spray stink bugs as necessary. That will continue in our southeastern counties where we have a lot of late cotton. Some acres in adjacent parts of Georgia are in the same situation, I’m told. I think that most stink bugs stayed in older cotton up until now, but they’re moving to better food sources – young cotton and soybeans – as the early cotton matures.
“Whitefly don’t seem to be getting worse in southeast Alabama. A pretty good thunderstorm front moved through the Wiregrass, which would provide some whitefly suppression. How this plays out in later cotton will depend on the weather. If shower come along enough, that could minimize activity. However, if conditions turn dry, that would favor whitefly and we might see numbers increase.
“We’re still finding a few escaped bollworms in different parts of the state. Basically, they’re on some of the more commonly planted dual-gene varieties from multiple companies.
“This crop looks really strong. The latest USDA forecast puts the Alabama crop at 500,000 acres and projects the yield at 1,000 lbs/acre. At no point in history have we achieved that kind of average. Things might still go wrong, but I’m really excited to see how the crop might turn out.
“In soybeans, green cloverworms (GCW) are turning up pretty much statewide. In places, defoliation is running 10% to 15%. That’s not a threshold level but it does complicate treatment decisions where we expect soybean loopers to develop later. Where people are spraying GCW, it’s to retain enough foliage that loopers don’t quickly push fields into defoliation thresholds later. We’re finding soybean loopers in some fields in south Alabama.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“It wasn’t difficult to find bollworms hanging out of bolls today in untreated dual-gene cotton in some of our trials. So far, we’re finding low to moderate pressure in plots.
“Trap counts had indicated we were kind of at the bottom of the current flight. However, the numbers went up again yesterday (8/13), so we’re now at the beginning of the next flight and will probably start seeing a little more egg laying in the later cotton that’s just starting to bloom.
“People aren’t reporting a lot of trouble with bollworms. We’re in this funny situation in South Carolina where pyrethroids still do some good on bollworms. So when people spray for stink bugs, they’re also picking up escaped bollworms with that treatment.
“Where stink bug sprays went out 2 weeks ago, determine if another application is needed now. We recommend going into fields 10 days after that first application and evaluating again for stink bugs.
“In soybeans, soybean loopers are here. Plenty of pressure has developed in the southern part of the state and I’m getting calls about loopers from the Pee Dee. So, check closely and line up applications as needed with a material that works on soybean loopers – and that doesn’t include pyrethroids. Podworms also are turning up in wide-row soybeans that are blooming.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:
“As a whole, corn earworm numbers remain low. Sporadic fields are requiring treatments but you’ve got to scout to know where they are or aren’t. Stink bug numbers vary. Again, they’re not terrible but do require attention in places.
“We’re still finding whitefly in many areas and that’s probably the most important insect we need to manage at this time. To date, only a few fields have required treatments, but whitefly are present to some extent in a portion of this crop.
“The presence of whitefly needs to be a significant part of every insect decision made for the rest of this season. You don’t want to spray other pests at sub-threshold levels and risk giving whitefly an opening. Also, you sure don’t want to use materials that could flare whitefly.
“On the positive side, we continue getting afternoon showers and thunderstorms, and that keeps beating down the adult whitefly numbers. Rains won’t have much effect on immatures, but every little bit helps. If you do go 10 days without rain, that could change everything in terms of populations.
“Where whitefly reach threshold, you have to treat on time. You cannot be late with this insect. For years, we built our whitefly program around insect growth regulators (IGRs), either Knack or Courier, but other options are out there now.
“However, IGRs are historically the way to go in Georgia. The critical point with an IGR is that you have to be timely and catch populations on the front end. If you miss that timing with an IGR, that’s when you have to fall back on contact-type materials.
“One of the reasons we do like an IGR approach is that it has a longer residual period.
“Our agents can supply more information on scouting and management. Keep in mind that when you do treat, whitefly won’t seem too bad – but our threshold is timed just before these populations explode.
“The threshold is based on immatures. Sample the fifth main-stem leaf below the terminal. If you find 5 or more immatures on 50% or more of the sampled leaves, you’ve hit threshold. Again, that allows you to intervene right before populations rapidly build. Remember that you can’t play catchup with this pest.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:
“All the rain we’ve had has kept things on hold and it’s still pretty wet across a big area. A grower said this morning (8/15) that he had a couple of hundred acres of cotton with 3-bale potential but couldn’t get in to treat. Pix has been going out where possible on sandy ground.
“Essentially, we’re dealing with three things this week in terms of pests.
“First, we are finding escaped bollworms. These may be cases where treatments went out too late in dual-gene cotton. No problems with worms have developed in the triple-gene varieties.
“Second, plant bug activity has picked up as more corn dries down and the insects move into cotton. I actually saw some corn harvested yesterday (8/14). The main calls have been questions about when to terminate plant bug treatments. These are field-by-field decisions and you have to consider several factors. Scott Stewart (Extension Entomologist, University of Tennessee) posted a great overview on making those decisions and I’ve been recommending that people review that.
“Plant bugs developed early and then they kind of dropped out of the picture, and we’ve had plenty of years like this when they came in late as corn dried down.
“The third thing – stink bugs are active, too, which is normal for this period. Several people are telling me they’re picking up more greens and browns in the light traps but pressure in cotton isn’t abnormal. That’s a bit surprising, considering reports of heavy pressure in Georgia and South Carolina.
“Corn earworm pressure seems to be light in soybeans. Loopers appear to be early and a little more widespread than usual. Some folks also are finding stink bugs in beans.”
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