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Owen Taylor, Editor



Cotton planting picked up on a wider basis after rain in cold weather shut down most activity.


Rain is in the forecast for late this week, so many growers are pushing to plant as many acres as possible ahead of this next season.


After a relatively warm winter, certain insects are becoming more apparent than might be expected. We’re hearing similar comments in the Southeast this week, too.


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David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi

“As of today (5/8), probably 7,000 to 8,000 acres of cotton in this immediate area have been planted. One man grows 6,000 acres of cotton and he’s done.


“When the weather forecast called for cold conditions, a lot of farmers pulled back. That one farmer whose finished planting started in a warm period around April 12, and it was good cotton weather at that point – highs into the 80s. He had plenty of acres to plant and didn’t let up.


“A lot of cotton that had emerged has just been sitting there during the colder conditions, but we’re into a warming trend, which should help.


“Cotton acres are up. I can’t say for sure how much, but our seed sales are up significantly over last year, 70% or more. Our crop mix here has increasingly become a cotton and corn rotation, with limited interest in soybeans. A few farmers booked beans early in the year but then in March and April asked if they could trade some of that for cotton seed.”


Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist

“I’m seeing some thrips in cotton, and treatments are being made a little here and there. That said, it’s hard to talk about our crops right now without touching on the flooding early in the month and the related losses. That’s the big issue, especially in northeast Arkansas. We’ve had a real disaster in those counties.


“In south Arkansas the rain wasn’t as big a factor, but the weather has certainly hit crops. I spent all day (5/8) in south Arkansas and saw pitiful looking crops in many cases. Plants had been beaten up by wind and blowing sand. That goes for both cotton and soybeans. Given enough sunshine and warmer weather, a lot of plants could outgrow that injury, but it looks bad at the moment.


“Cutworms have been as bad as I’ve seen them, particularly behind cover crops that were burned down behind the planter or after planting. Growers left a green bridge, so cutworms simply moved from weeds to the crop. In one stop last week I counted 5 worms per row foot in soybeans. If you plan on delaying the burndown like that, put an insecticide behind the planter to kill cutworms.



“We’re picking up stink bugs in corn – tremendous counts in places. A month ago we started sweeping in road ditches and in crimson clover and already were finding outrageous numbers in places. With this year’s mild winter we had very little overwintering mortality of certain pests. We’ll see how that plays out later.”


Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri

“Cotton planting is cranking up, and everyone seems to be planting somewhere. We still have areas that are kind of wet, but we also can find enough dry places to run.


“Our earlier planted cotton isn’t doing well. All that rain at the end of last month – the system that caused flooding in Arkansas and Missouri – worked against those plants, and replanting was necessary in places. Some cotton planted in late April and early May did go under water, and those fields are just starting to dry out. Our total cotton acreage is up 5%, maybe a little more than that.


“We’re expecting rain this Thursday night. If we don’t get a lot, we might be able to finish planting over the weekend or into early next week.”


Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist

“People are rolling today (5/9) where they can. That cool snap over the weekend closed down activity a little. Overall, we’re 80% planted today and will maybe be over 90% tomorrow. Rain is in the forecast on Friday, so folks are pushing hard. A few replants are going on, mainly due to wind and sand blasting. Rhizoctonia developed in some early fields, too.”


Tyson Raper, Cotton And Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee

“We’ve made tremendous progress with cotton planting. Starting over the weekend we had high winds and clear skies, which quickly dried out things enough for growers to move into fields. Planters were running in places on Sunday, and then by Monday everyone was trying to plant as much as possible.


“With all the planter capacity our farmers have now, people are biting off big chunks every day.


“A little chance of rain is in the forecast later this week, and that’s pushing people to run hard, and we’ll have plenty of early May cotton planted by Friday. I feel very good about the way this crop is starting. The forecast calls for 0.2 to 0.5 of an inch of rain with this next system. As much soil drying as we’ve had in the last few days, that much rain won’t keep us out of the field long.”


Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist

“We’re 70% to 80% finished with cotton planting, I think. We got off to a fast start and will be wrapping it up quickly. Some seed actually went in the ground in the last few days of March, then a bit more was planted in early April.


“After that, the weather turned wet. Totals from multiple rains ran 15 inches in places, with up to 18 inches in parts of central Louisiana. Between seedling disease and thrips damage, that part of the crop doesn’t look good, and some replanting has been necessary.”


Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi

“Some people planted cotton early and are having to replant in certain spots now (5/9). Blowing sand and cold weather hurt those early fields, plus we’ve detected drift injury in specific locations.


“The good news is that we’ve only had to spray in spots for thrips. Overall, I can hardly find any. Fortunately, thrips weren’t a factor in that early cotton that the weather hurt. If they had been, we’d probably have thrown in the towel.


“People are planting fast this week. If we miss the rain that’s in the forecast for Friday, we’ll be about done with cotton planting. Our acres are up, and most of that came out of corn, with at least some bean acreage shifting to cotton, too. One farmer is down to 60 acres of beans, and that was so he could landform that ground as soon as the beans come off.



“Herbicides in soybeans are holding really well, with just slight slippage here and there. The moisture helped maintain activity. With that last weather system – a cool snap with wind and rain – we saw some chemical damage. In our earliest fields we have soybeans and cotton at V4, but that cotton probably would have put on an extra node by now if we’d had better weather. Most corn is at V9 to V10. I checked moisture sensors and didn’t find a need to water this week.”


Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist

“Flood waters are coming down some, but we still have water everywhere. One pole barn I regularly see had water up to the bottom of the root last week, and the water has now gone down about halfway. The barn is big enough you could park a tractor under it.


“Before all the rain we had planted about 15% of the intended crop. By now (5/9), some producers have finished planting but others haven’t been able to put a seed in the planter box yet.


“I’ve got some cotton in plots in Ashley County in south Arkansas that was planted on April 19 and it’s slowly coming along and has reached the first true leaf. Since that planting date, we’ve had a lot of cold mornings. Those plants did appear to have nice, white roots coming on. I am hearing that seed supplies are getting tighter.”


Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee

“You can find cotton that’s emerged in scattered red dirt fields in the Tennessee Valley, and it’s growing slowly. A lot of cotton is being put in the ground this week. It’s been a struggle to get things done. It rained 6 inches in 5 days a couple of weeks ago.


“Along with wet soils, temperatures were down in the 40s last week. Conditions have started warming up, though, and herbicides are going out and planters are rolling.


“Our cotton acres will be up slightly. Quite a few growers fixed their cotton prices earlier. Last year a lot of corn yields ran 80 to 90 bu/acre, so nobody was excited about corn this year. Cotton, on the other hand, did really well in 2016, with plenty of yields ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 bales/acre. Conditions were perfect during the season and then we had the easiest harvest I can recall.


“Very little rain fell during the harvest months, plus the weather was warm and harvest aid materials worked as well as you’d ever want. Cotton quality was above average, with some outstanding grades.”


Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas

“We’re probably 80% planted (as of 5/10). Our oldest cotton is maybe starting on its second true leaf. We’ve sprayed a little for thrips, although that may pick up when more cotton gets green. Our cotton acres are up a little, certainly nothing dramatic. We don’t have the picking capacity like we did several years ago, and that held a few people back.”




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