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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.




Rainfall has eased up across much of the Southeast over the last week, and drier conditions have reduced the risk of boll rot and hard locking in early-planted cotton. In places, pivots have started running again in later-planted fields.


Areolate mildew has evolved into a significant issue in more fields.


Whitefly treatments are increasing in Georgia. Pressure remains far below what growers and crop advisors dealt with last year. But with a good deal of late-planted cotton, the threat from this insect will linger into the fall.


Late-planted cotton remains at risk from stink bugs and other pests, depending on the area. See Ron Smith’s comments about potential pest issues in southeast Alabama.




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

“We haven’t had rain for 5 days in a row (as of 8/27) and cotton is looking better. Even with all the rain earlier, we still have a chance to make good yields.


“A lot of cotton has cut out now and plants are just kind of filling in the top bolls, and older bolls have started opening, so we sure need dry weather. While potential is good, August and September mostly determine how cotton turns out here. Where we’re finding open bolls, it’s in the first first-planted fields and also where cotton was under a lot of stress.


“We’re still spraying some later cotton for corn earworms and a few of the very latest fields have been treated for plant bugs.


“Corn harvest started last week. I don’t expect any great yields this year. I’m hearing dryland averages from 100 to 200 bu/acre but not many of those are at 200. How corn is turning out depends on how much it rained and how good drainage was.


“Most of our soybeans have pods and are still pretty green, with just a few turning color. Not much spraying has been necessary.”


Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM, Marianna, Florida:

“Overall, cotton is coming along well. Some potassium issues are apparent. Plants have a heavy boll load now, so that’s a factor. Stemphylium spots are obvious in places, and that’s usually associated with low K.


“Target spot is showing up in several varieties in our variety trials. So far, it’s nothing major.


“The only cotton that’s open is in places where defoliation occurred due to spider mite damage, although we haven’t seen much mite activity lately.


“Peanuts are approaching harvest in places and it’s been going for a couple of weeks down towards Gainesville. One grower said last week that he was 8 to 10 days from his first digging. People planted earlier to some extent and the weather seemed to help out on the maturity side. It’s rained enough that our dryland fields look like they were irrigated.


“Corn harvest has just about wrapped up. Growers have been running for 2 to 3 weeks between showers. In soybeans, kudzu bugs have developed in a few fields but the fungus appears to be active in places. A grower brought in a soybean plant to see if we could tell him what kind of disease had developed. But when we looked closely, we saw that the symptoms were present where kudzu bugs had died and the fungus had built up around them.


“In peanuts, some applications have gone out for caterpillars, mostly velvetbean caterpillars (VBC). High populations of loopers built in a couple of fields, but VBC are the main thing right now (8/27) in beans.”


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

“We haven’t had any rain in 5 days (as of 8/27), which is a long stretch considering how much and how often it’s rained this year. We’ve actually started irrigating, especially on some of the younger cotton and peanuts where we don’t want to fall behind on moisture. We terribly needed this dry weather, and it’s a blessing.



“With all the rain, every disease you can expect in cotton is in it now. Target spot and areolate mildew are the 2 main concerns. If anything, the areolate seems more aggressive than target spot.  With rain, it appears to move faster up the plant.


“In my area, we’ve made at least a single fungicide application, starting about 6 weeks ago. That’s paying dividends but some fields will require a second application. It’s been that kind of year. We have a hodgepodge of other diseases – among them, bacterial blight and stemphylium, which relates to potassium levels.


“Worms have kind of simmered down in cotton. Stink bugs are still in the picture but are hit or miss, depending on adjoining crops. If corn harvest is going next door, you can get ready to spray for stink bugs in cotton. Across our cotton, we’ve averaged one spray for stink bugs so far.


“Whitefly are building and we’re dealing with them. As of now (8/27), we’ve sprayed 25 fields for whitefly and probably will add another 25 fields to the list next week. I expect that number to increase in the week after that. This dry weather is what we don’t need in terms of whitefly since rain tends to suppress them.


“If we continue in this dry pattern, I expect that whitefly will get worse. Where they’ve been building to subthreshold levels on older cotton, they will move to young cotton next. I have a good deal of cotton between the third and fifth week of bloom, so whitefly could pose problems in those fields.


“People also are picking up whitefly in east Georgia where they typically don’t have problems. I’m seeing whitefly venturing out more from vegetable crops, which are usually ground zero for whitefly. That said, they’re still nowhere near the levels we dealt with at this point last year. They are maybe a little above normal, I think.


“Typically, we do spray several fields for whitefly every year, but we still have a long way to go with a big part of this crop. My cotton ranges from some fields that are 10 days out from defoliation to places where plants haven’t put on a bloom yet.


“On the other hand, the crop looks so much better after 5 days of dry weather. A lot of cotton was opening, and hard lock and boll rot started up. Now that it has turned drier, the integrity of the bolls is much improved.


 “With all this year’s rain, nothing is dryland when you look across the fields. However, if we don’t get rain in the next 4 to 5 days, we’ll start seeing differences between where people can and can’t irrigate.


“My oldest peanuts are at 124 days and they look like they could come off at around 140 days. We’ve stayed on a 10-day schedule with fungicides for several applications, which paid big dividends this year, I think. That amounted to an extra application by going 3 or 4 days early, but white mold and leaf spot control have been excellent. We are now seeing late leaf spot and we’ll be watching and making sure that underground white mold doesn’t get us.


“We had a flush of worms in peanuts, mainly velvetbean caterpillars with some corn earworms and a few loopers in the mix. We took care of them with a pyrethroid, which knocked out three-cornered alfalfa hoppers at the same time. Growers are in the middle of corn harvest and are reporting some good irrigated yields, holding around 225 to 230 bu/acre.”


Eddie McGriff, Regional Extension Agronomist, Centre, Alabama:

“As far as cotton goes, this weather is ideal – nice and sunny. It’s getting a little dry but we have fairly good subsoil moisture. Our oldest cotton is just starting to open, so these conditions will help us avoid hard locking and boll rot. It hasn’t rained for at least a week (as of 8/27). We do still need rain for our late-planted crops, of course.


“We may need to treat a little more for stink bugs in cotton but we’re almost to the point that insects aren’t a factor. Where the top crop isn’t finished yet, growers will have to scout and spray if necessary.


“Corn harvest is just underway and growers will start combines running soon in some early-planted soybeans. I know of one corn field that cut 285 bu/acre and a few dryland fields that have actually run 220 to 240.


“Some worm and stink bugs sprays have gone out in late-planted beans. Green cloverworms are present, although some people have mistaken them for soybean loopers. We’re hearing reports of soybean loopers in south Alabama and I think that’s raised the level of concern up here.”


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

“We haven’t had a lot of stink bug pressure and what has developed was scattered. Some target spot and areolate mildew have moved in.


“We’re assessing fields to determine whether to pull the trigger on fungicides. A lot of our older cotton is at cutout, and we won’t make an application on those fields. But with some of our younger cotton, we are applying fungicides.


“We’re getting a break from the rain. As funny as this might sound, it’s only raining ever 2 or 3 days instead of every day. These are scattered showers. We do have moisture and this is a pretty good crop. We just need to get it to the gin.


“We will plow up some peanuts next week. I’ve seen a little white mold, but it’s surprising that we haven’t had more of it or other disease pressure, considering the wet conditions. If the amount of vines on top of the ground is any indication about the number of nuts under the ground, this will be a great peanut crop.”


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

“Cotton is starting to open and I can find cracked bolls in about 80% of the cotton I work. This crop is still running ahead and the high today (8/27) was 92, and that will help move things along.


“We’ll probably need some rain to finish out the top bolls. We received about 3 inches of rain this month but none in the last 10 days, so one more rain should pretty much take care of us.


“We made a plant bug and stink bug treatment at the end of July. That seemed to be well timed and we haven’t had to come back since then.


“Corn is still running 20%-plus moisture and this dry, hot weather should help move it along. Some late MGIII soybeans planted early could be harvested at the end of this week. We’re still keeping an eye on the wheat beans for any insect activity.”


David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi:

“We’ll start defoliation on Friday (8/31) in both some dryland and irrigated cotton. More cotton is ready but growers are still tied up with corn harvest. They’ll go right out of corn this year and into cotton picking, as things look now (8/28).


“Just about all of our cotton has bloomed out the top. I’m not seeing many stink bugs but plant bugs came back late in the year. I don’t think they’re hitting anything we will pick, so I’m not spraying.


“Overall, we’re starting defoliation about 2 weeks earlier than average. This year, we’ll be picking cotton in September.


“Corn yields are pretty good. Irrigated corn is averaging pretty far north of 200 bu/acre. Where dryland corn got rain, it’s averaging 180 to 200. Where dryland corn missed a lot of those showers, it’s going 150 to 160.”


Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

“While cotton is winding down across much of the state, we still have late fields. That’s particularly the case in southeast Alabama in our Wiregrass region.



“We can still find stink bugs in that late cotton and whitefly have to be a concern in those counties, and spider mites have been a nagging issue. Also, aphids have rebounded in some late cotton. A couple of people called yesterday (8/27) about that.


“With stink bugs, we’ll be protecting harvestable top bolls until they’re 25 days old, which is about 6 weeks from now. In that part of the state, the last effective square date is August 24, so we’ll be carrying that cotton for a while. That’s a small percentage of the crop statewide but we have several thousand acres of cotton in southeast Alabama that fit that category.


“Whitefly numbers are still low but an extended dry period would allow them to build. The same goes for spider mites. People have been spraying a lot for spider mites in the Wiregrass but they haven’t gone away.


“This cotton crop is shaping up wonderfully, I might add. Over the last week, people with years of experience in cotton have commented about how many green bolls are out there. Those bolls aren’t in the picker yet and we could still lose yield potential to boll rot or hard locking if the weather takes a turn for the worst.


“But it’s an exceptional year in terms of yield potential, plus the numbers point to this being a half-million-acre crop in Alabama. The last USDA estimate was just shy of 500,000 acres but that didn’t count any cotton planted in the last few days of June and into the early days of July. Predictions back in December put us at a half-million acres in 2018 and it looks like we’ll hit that.


“I’m now getting calls about spider mites breaking out in peanuts. Nothing that’s labeled for spider mites in peanuts works very well.


“In soybeans, we’re catching high numbers of soybean looper moths in pheromone traps in places. At Brewton and Fairhope last week we found dozens of loopers per row foot in plots there. These were tiny loopers that were freshly hatched. They were hair-like and you needed a strong loop to ID the species.


“I’m not getting a lot of calls about loopers yet but in those 2 locations they obviously were there. In places, they were running 80 per row foot. A few other species were in the mix but the population was almost exclusively soybean loopers.”


Andrew Sawyer, Extension Agent, Thomas County, Georgia:

“We’re certainly finding areolate mildew in the county. It’s not in every field and may not be severe in every field where it has turned up. But I’ve been in some cotton today (8/28) where plants were really worked over.


“I nudged some plants over and they were naked on the bottom. In that particular field, cotton may have taken a 500 lb/acre yield loss. That field had been sprayed with a fungicide two weeks ago. The farmer had another field where he had applied a fungicide just as areolate showed up. You can find a little of it but there’s hardly any defoliation.


“I don’t know if there’s any difference among varieties and I’ll leave that question to other people to answer. I do know that some decisions will have to be made about whether and when to apply fungicides in certain fields. Areolate mildew may be present in spots in fields but has gone unnoticed so far.


“Oddly enough, I’ve found very little target spot.


“Across the county, 30% of the cotton has bolls opening. Of that, 30% have some bolls open a quarter up the plant. I also was in a field today with bolls open more than halfway up. A farmer said he had cotton that was 50% open on some plants, so it was close to the point he could defoliate it.


“It’s turned drier, relatively speaking. We have now gone a week without rain instead of having it rain 2 or 3 times a week, which has been the pattern in at least the last 6 weeks.


“In cotton, the main activity with insects from my standpoint has been trying to hold people back from spraying. I’m not seeing stink bug damage where I’ve been and plenty of beneficials are around. We’ve sure needed plant growth regulators and 3 applications have been made on some of the more aggressive varieties.


“In peanuts, we’re seeing some leaf spot. I haven’t found many white mold hits, which is a bit surprising with all the rain. Peanuts look good and everyone thinks we could start digging a week earlier than average.”


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

“We’re getting dry and would welcome some rain. I’ve started irrigating some of my stuff in the last day or so.


“In dryland fields, things are starting to shut down and bolls are opening on the bottom, and that will only accelerate if it doesn’t rain soon. I’m still finding stink bugs in my younger cotton and I’ve noticed fresh stink bug egg masses. So, we’ll need to maintain management in later-planted cotton for at least another couple of weeks.


“As more cotton shuts down, stink bugs will bottleneck in that later cotton if soybeans aren’t available as a host. Where I found stink bug eggs, that cotton was planted in the end of May. Anything planted in June will probably be more susceptible to whatever is out there. I saw bollworm moths and fresh eggs, so they’re still around.


“I am seeing open bolls in cotton planted in late April and into early May. It’s not unusual this week to go into a field planted on time and find cracked bolls at the bottom. Again, that will accelerate in dryland cotton if it doesn’t rain soon.


“In soybeans, we can still find loopers and other defoliators and kudzu bugs. But I haven’t heard of anyone having big problems with any of those. Loopers were pretty heavy 2 weeks ago but have somewhat subsided in the southern part of the state.”


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

“I’m spending a certain amount of time this week trying to convince people they don’t need to spray for plant bugs. The bugs are heavy in spots but most of our cotton is pretty mature and past the point that treatments would matter.


“I noticed bollworm eggs last week in some cotton. We still need to watch later-planted cotton in terms of bollworms, but they often don’t amount to much by this point in the season. A few stink bug treatments have been going out. Overall, though, we’re wrapping up a season with fairly light insect pressure, with exceptions in certain places.


“In soybeans, some corn earworms are being treated in later-planted fields. Loopers are cropping up, too, where broad-spectrum insecticides were applied earlier. This is usually the week when loopers show up in much of the state and we start doing battle, so scout closely.



“Garden fleahoppers are turning up in soybeans in places. This is a black to greenish fleahopper and it isn’t the same as the cotton fleahopper. They kind of stipple soybean leaves in the same way spider mites will. A couple of years ago they built to the point that people treated, mainly in the northeastern part of the state.


“This year, I’ve had a dribble of reports about them all season. In places now, people are finding heavy numbers. We don’t have a threshold, so I suggest that people go with the basic threshold we follow when spider mites stipple soybeans.


“One consultant said he was catching 100 in 25 sweeps in places, with maybe higher numbers in spots. Again, we don’t have guidelines for this insect, but it’s hard to tell a man not to spray when he’s finding those numbers. Last year, I heard just one or two reports of them. Where people are treating, it’s with pyrethroids.”


Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

“We’re still closely watching whitefly. More treatments have gone out in the last week but numbers remain relatively low – especially when compared to 2017.


“Scout closely, use thresholds and be timely when you do spray. If you get behind with whitefly, you can’t catch up.


“Treatments are still going out in places for stink bugs. Corn earworm numbers continue to be low. We still very much need to watch this late-planted cotton. As older cotton finishes, pests tend to congregate in later fields that are still lush. We’re already seeing that with whitefly and plant bugs.


“Soybean looper numbers are increasing in soybeans in south Georgia. Another population is coming through and the numbers will be a little higher than we saw a few weeks ago. Check closely and use appropriate insecticides. Some velvetbean caterpillars will probably be in the mix, as well.”




Ag Labor – Smaller Pool, Higher Costs, Says CoBank Study   8-28


Alabama: Soybean Loopers on the Rise in Late-Planted Fields   8-28


Georgia Peanuts: Colquitt County Hull Scrape Clinics Begin Next Week   8-28


USDA: Weekly National Peanut Prices   8-28


Georgia: Colquitt County Cotton Defoliation, Peanut Harvest Meeting, Moultrie, Sept. 4   8-28


North Carolina Cotton: Late Season Bollworms – Should You Spray?   8-28


Florida: New Crop-Damage Assessment System Will Speed Reporting After Disasters   8-28


Farm Policy: USDA Outlines Trade Assistance; Trump Touts Mexico Trade Deal   8-28


Georgia Cotton: PGRs – Slowing Down Growth After Bloom 8-27


North Carolina Cotton: Areolate Mildew May Be Present, What to Look For 8-27


More Cotton News | More Peanut News


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