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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 small amount of defoliation has started in the lower Southeast, based on this week’s reports, but more applications were put on hold ahead of Hurricane Gordon.
Whitefly remain a concern in Georgia and in southeast Alabama. Treatments are being made in Georgia on what seems to be a limited basis, but rainy conditions during much of the season have helped suppress populations.
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“It’s still hot and still dry. Any rain lately has been in the form of really, really scattered showers and not many of those like we had earlier in the summer.
“Cotton is kind of shutting down. Dryland fields are winding down faster than irrigated cotton but the crop is about done except where it was planted extremely late. I have found some small and medium-size corn earworms in some of that cotton. Generally, we’re finished with stink bugs in the later cotton.
“I thought we would see more insects in soybeans today (9/4). I’ve found some very small soybean loopers, so we’ll wait and see if more migration and egg laying develop. Some velvetbean caterpillars and green cloverworms are present, too. I can find stink bugs in soybeans here and there but not as many as expected in R5 beans. In other words, we’re not really coming across any one thing that’s troubling. With soybeans, that’s been the theme this year.”
Brandon Dillard, Regional Agronomist, Geneva, Alabama:
“We’re seeing an effect from what I suspect is a lack of sunshine, with fruit shed in a lot of older cotton but in some younger cotton, too. We’ve been in a pattern where it begins clouding up every day around 10 a.m. and then rains begin at some point in the afternoon.
“Honestly, I think we still have an excellent crop but growers are calling or texting me with concerns about how much shed they’re finding.
“Our early-planted cotton – April and into early May – is pretty much done. The last shot of Pix and the last bug spray have gone out and those bolls have really started opening. In places, we have open bolls about halfway up the plant and it won’t be long before the first defoliation begins.
“In cotton planted in late May and into early June, some Pix and bug sprays are being made. Any rains now are perfect for that later-planted cotton. It’s into peak water demand and is putting on a good amount of fruit. I’m a little more worried about shed on that part of the crop than in the cotton planted earlier.
“In peanuts, we did some pod blasting this morning. Some guys are right on the verge of digging. If it hadn’t rained today (9/4), some would have already started on whole fields. Where anyone has dug, it’s on end rows and where peanuts are being harvested for boiling. Digging, though, should really kick off after this storm (Gordon) moves through.
“Depending on the amount of rain in this part of the state, digging might begin on a wider basis by the end of the week. Based on samples we’ve been pod blasting, yield potential looks extremely good. We’re excited to see how this peanut crop turns out.
“In corn, this recent wetter pattern has been frustrating for farmers who don’t have drying capacity. Aside from not being able to harvest the rest of the crop, they’re seeing some sprouting in the husk and discolored kernels. Yields have been running 100 to 150 bu/acre on dryland, with some irrigated corn at 200 to 230.
“After the storm, we’ll see how corn finally wraps up. A dryer pays off with corn in this area about one year out of five, and this is one of those years. We had a warmer winter, so a lot of corn was planted earlier than normal. It dried a little earlier, too, but this rain is messing it up.”
Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, Western Panhandle:
“The first rain bands from the storm (Gordon) started moving into the area last night and today (9/4). The projections are that we’ll receive 6 inches of rain or less, which isn’t entirely uncommon in this area. But coupled with the wind, that could have more of an effect. We could see some bolls knocked off.
“Growers have done a pretty good job of keeping cotton short, although we’re already seeing some cotton laying over and that probably will get worse. Hopefully, we’ll have enough time left in the season for it to dry out and plants to stand up again.
“It’s somewhat difficult to gauge how yields might run because we had such a wide range of planting dates, from April to some fields that couldn’t be planted until July. So, growth and development are all over the board. Cotton still looks pretty good, although I’m thinking that yields will be a little off what they were last year.
“We have some potassium issues every year and I’m getting calls about that now. The most egregious examples tend to be where the soil analysis called for 120 units of K2O per acre but the grower cut that back to 90. With some of these newer varieties – what we’d call the racehorse varieties – it also seems like some of our potassium recommendations might be on the low side. For sure, you shouldn’t be shorting the crop on potassium.
“A lot of our peanuts are kind of yellow on top and we haven’t really figured out what the issue is. Earlier in the season, we thought it might be due to herbicides or leaf hopper damage. Also, we thought it might be due to potassium deficiency, but potassium levels turned out to be fine where we checked. I don’t think this will hurt yields but the yellowing has definitely been there in places.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:
“We have a 50% chance of rain today (9/4) and about a 50% chance of rain every day for the rest of the week. One consultant reported that boll rot was pretty bad in parts of the Florida panhandle.
“A consultant in this part of the state said his growers will start defoliating pretty soon. If it hadn’t been for rainy weather and this storm (Gordon), some defoliant probably would have already gone out.
“No one is calling about insects, but we have a lot of late-planted cotton in places that has a ways to go. Whitefly remain a concern in those fields but this rainy weather is keeping them down. As of last week, we were still catching a lot of soybean looper moths in pheromone traps.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:
“Our moisture situation is mixed. Some areas could use a little rain but others have received too much. Overall, though, we’re in pretty good shape. As more of this cotton opens, we’ll need drier conditions to fluff it out, so some sunshine would be welcomed.
“A county agent told me today (9/4) that he saw a field being defoliated, and that’s the first defoliation I’ve heard about in a commercial field this year. The crop has matured fast. I’ll bet that more and more defoliation will get underway into the next week. Hopefully, we’ll see that progress in a timely manner.
“A significant amount of cotton was planted in June, so we’re still managing stink bugs in those fields. At this point, those later fields are like the last green islands left and stink bugs are moving into the later cotton, as we would expect.
“We continue watching closely for whitefly. The numbers have not exploded and we think this summer’s wetter weather suppressed them. Treatments are still being made but I don’t think we’ve treated 5% of the acres yet for whitefly.”
Chad Savery, Anchor Ag Solutions LLC, Fairhope, Alabama:
“We’ve maybe gotten 4 to 6 inches of rain (as of late morning, 9/5), and that’s been about it from the storm (Gordon). Last week we could find quite a few open bolls and a good bit of cotton this week is in the tenth week of bloom. We will have to watch some younger cotton for another couple of weeks.
“This looks like a good crop.
“We had been battling target spot and have sprayed stink bugs, although not a lot overall. The week before last we made a number of applications but nothing since then.”
Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:
“Rain from the storm (Gordon) has varied. In Noxubee County, it’s rained 1 to 2 inches. North of U.S. 82, it’s only rained a half-inch so far (9/5) but the storm is still moving up that way. I’m not very concerned about it. We didn’t really want it, but Gordon hasn’t turned into one of those huge yield killers.
“We started defoliating last Friday. We’re doing two shots on some cotton and only one shot on other fields. In all, we’ve started defoliation on 1,500 acres. Once Gordon blows through, we’ll resume as soon as the plane can get in the air.
“Corn is doing really well. Dryland fields here and there have cut 80 to 90 bu/acre but a lot of people are telling me about 160 to 200. That’s both dryland and irrigated corn. Some guys who farm redder dirt to the north have averaged 150 to 160 dryland corn and they’re really pleased with that. We’re 90% finished with corn harvest.
“Desiccants went out on some soybeans and harvest started in places. No feedback yet on yields. We sprayed for bean leaf beetles about 2 weeks ago. We have beans that are kind of at R6.5 with close to 20% leaf defoliation from feeding. But considering the cost of treatment and how close we are to harvest, I’m letting them go.”
Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:
“Overall, the crop in north Alabama looks pretty good. We do have a couple of areas with localized droughts and that cotton burned up. That situation is minimal when you take into account the full crop, although it’s sure a serious thing for the farmers who are affected.
“In general, we wish we’d caught another rain or two, but some of the early crop set is pretty good. To date (9/5), I don’t know of anyone defoliating cotton. However, if the weather forecast is favorable next Monday, some of those drought-stressed fields will be the first to go. People will start there and the brunt of defoliation will be underway from mid-September on.
“Cotton has finished a good bit earlier than last year. In my book, last year’s crop was unusually late, which I think was largely due to cloudy weather. We had the heat units but less-than-optimal sunshine.
“In corn, at least a couple of producers with dryers are almost finished with harvest. Other growers are just starting. Yields I’ve heard so far are respectable, especially for dryland corn. A lot of that received moisture early and then again during silking, which helped.”
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