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Owen Taylor, Editor
Here is this week's issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton.
Our thanks to SePRO – maker of Brake herbicide – for once again sponsoring our coverage.
Aphids have been turning up in scattered locations in Louisiana and Mississippi. The aphid fungus appeared to have developed in one case in Louisiana. Scattered fleahoppers continue to turn up in parts of Louisiana.
Thrips have lingered longer than usual, based on reports this week. But any treatments now would likely be on a limited, isolated basis.
More rain fell over the weekend and into this week. However, the weather has started clearing through the region and the forecast calls for an extended period of dry, sunny conditions. That’s just what the doctor ordered, and drier conditions probably can't come too soon for Midsouth wildlife. See our "bear report" just above this week's Links section.
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Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas
“I think we’ve finally turned the corner on the weather forecast (as of 6/7). It rained Friday, then off and on again on Sunday and then some pretty heavy popup showers moved through on Monday. But things are clearing up and not much rain is in the forecast next week. If we can get a good dry run in the field then we should be able to catch up on plenty of work.
“With the rain persisting like it has, we finally gave up on planting more cotton. The last seed went into the ground around June 2. We were able to spray yesterday in a couple of sandy fields but that was it. Our oldest cotton is at the ninth node. Not much is going on in terms of insects in cotton.
“In soybeans, we’re turning up a few stink bugs but not enough to treat and the beans aren’t far enough along that we would spray, anyway. We’re still planting soybeans, mainly as the water goes down from flooding. Our most advanced beans are up to R4. Most of the corn and beans look pretty good and this has been favorable weather for both crops. These conditions also made life easier for farmers, at least in corn and soybeans. Moisture kept herbicides going and growers haven’t had to water yet.”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist
“We are exceedingly wet (as of 6/6). North Louisiana has had hardly any break from the rain in the last 2 weeks. A little dry spell is in the forecast, which may allow growers to return to some fields by Friday or Saturday. But on heavier ground, it could be a couple of weeks before anything can be done.
“The majority of our cotton is out of the thrips window and much of our crop is pushing 5 leaves. We’re dealing with sporadic aphid and fleahopper populations. Aphids started turning up right before all of this rain. A consultant today did find aphids that were infected by the fungus. I think we’ve had the right moisture and temperature conditions to take them out. Our cotton is definitely not drought stressed.
“Fleahoppers are knocking off a few squares. Generally, they’re not at treatment levels, although we have historic hot spots where they might have hit that point.
“With all the mud, everything has been going out by air. I haven’t heard of any ground rigs running for at least 2 weeks. Cotton’s age is all over the board. Some is beginning to square but guys have been holding off on any treatments because they’re afraid that it will rain and the materials will be washed off. Or, if they have to treat by ground they can’t get into the field.
“Treatments for redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) have started in R5 soybeans in south. I’m afraid that some folks are getting a bit trigger happy with RBSB between R3 and R5. If beans are at R5 and you’re at threshold levels, you need to treat. But I’m hearing about cases where these are still sub-threshold levels and beans don’t have seeds in pods yet.
“If you don’t have beans in pods, there’s really nothing for RBSB to feed on, so there’s really nothing to protect. Decisions may get a bit more complicated with indeterminates since you may only have pods at the bottom as RBSB populations build. If you’ve only got 2 pods at the bottom, that’s probably not enough to justify treating yet. Applications should be based on both the crop’s stage and insect pressure.
“With this year’s mild winter, RBSB did not go into diapause, even in north Louisiana. We found them in January and February north of Interstate 20, and they were reproducing in legumes during the winter. We could have a pretty big fight on our hands with RBSB in the late beans, and with a $9 soybean market we can’t waste any applications.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist
“Plant bug numbers are kind of down right now (6/6) in cotton. They’re still very much on wild hosts. I do think they will get bad, but not quite yet. On the positive side, every day you don’t have to spray is a good day.
“Bollworms are turning up in soybeans. I was in some V3 to V4 beans today where they were running 7 to 10 per 25 sweeps and ragging up plants pretty good. Finding them in vegetative beans in those numbers is odd, since you think of them turning up in beans that are blooming. I walked across the turnrow into beans that were knee high and blooming, which is where I might expect to see bollworms. But couldn’t find a single worm, which added to the oddity.
“Bottom line: scout every soybean field. Just because they’re not blooming doesn’t mean bollworms aren’t in there, based on what we’re already finding. The moths have certainly been active. Trap counts were running 500 to 600 and then jumped to 1,500 last week. The bollworms I found today were from last week’s flight.
“In vegetative beans I wouldn’t worry about a count running 6 to 10 per 25 sweeps. That’s nowhere near enough to cause 35% to 40% defoliation, which would justify an application. But based on trap counts and this kind of activity, we could be seeing a heck of a flight with the next generation in late June and early July.
“Stink bugs also started picking up in places when beans began blooming. One grower found 9 per 25 sweeps in beans that were right at full bloom and had some tiny pods. I recommended last week that he wait and see if they moved out. Today, he was finding 15 per 25 sweeps and they were mostly green stink bugs. Plants were at R3 to R4.
“I told him it probably was time to worry, but particularly if they continue building. I said he was justified in treating if he wanted but he also could hold off another week to see how they trend. The downside to treating now is that we know worms are in the landscape and any treatments for stink bugs takes out beneficials and gives worms a big break.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist
“It’s too wet to do much in the field. We went all over the state yesterday (6/5) looking for a dry spot in any of our plot locations. Tomorrow’s forecast, though, looks good, so a lot of fields should begin drying up enough.
“Cotton is a mixed bag, but in places we are into early squaring. Some plant bug applications are going out on threshold levels. Several people also said their square retention is pretty strong, although that cotton is growing slowly. Once we get out of the rainy period, I think applications will pick up. Otherwise, it’s been fairly quiet in cotton this week.
“Many people are finding redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) in soybeans. I’m getting calls, emails and texts. It’s particularly evident south of U.S. 82, but it’s also not hard to find RBSB in some areas north of the highway. They’re not at treatment level, but people are anxious to know what these early populations mean. We definitely need to take them into account in our later planted beans.
“Obviously, they overwintered farther north, so we may have to deal with them like folks do every year in Louisiana. Time will tell.
“Some people are finding them in low numbers and are asking about including an insecticide for RBSB when they go across beans with a fungicide. I’m steadily trying to talk folks out of that notion. With that approach you could be doing yourself more harm than good. Putting something out like acephate will only give you 4 to 7 days of control, plus it will take out beneficials and open things up for worms. You can only apply a total of 1.5 lbs/acre of acephate in a season, so you may want to hold that in reserve until beans are podding and RBSB can actually cause problems.
“If numbers are low and beans are at R3, don’t treat with the idea that you’ll save a spray later. Again, residual is limited and it’s a wasted treatment on RBSB at that point. I admit that this is kind of unnerving. We’ve never seen RBSB in Mississippi at this point in the year.
“On a separate note, we don’t have much grain sorghum this year after all the earlier problems with sugarcane aphids (SCA). But a field of grain sorghum – planted really early – has already been sprayed for SCA. Typically, we haven’t heard of applications starting before the first week of July.”
Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee
“It rained Saturday night, part of Sunday and into Monday. I’ve probably poured 3 inches of water out of the gauge from those showers.
“Our red-dirt cotton is doing well. Growers cleaned up cotton pretty good where they used a residual and then came back with Liberty or Engenia. Quite a few acres had a low rate of Reflex tied in with Caparol and they don’t have weeds or grass to address. People who did a burndown without a residual were caught by rain, and they have weeds and grasses coming up that will have to be addressed as soon as it’s dry.
“At this point last year we were begging for just three-quarters of an inch of rain. Any cotton planted ahead of this last rain will be the last cotton in 2017. Anything left now will go to soybeans. Veteran growers are saying this is the hardest year to start a crop that they can remember in a long, long time. We have good – not great – growing conditions for cotton right now (6/5).”
Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri
“Another big rain fell today (6/5), and it’s hardly stopped raining for 3 days. I haven’t seen a gauge yet, but probably 2 inches fell today. Before this rain we were wetter in some spots than others, but we’re extremely wet everywhere now.
“All things considered, cotton is coming along really well. Before this last round of storms I was finding more thrips than I’ve seen this year, but the rain will knock them down and maybe we’re finished with thrips for the season.
“My cotton ranges from 3 leaves to just starting to square. I’ve begun swinging a net in a few fields but thrips are what I’m mostly finding. We’ll move into intensive plant bug monitoring next week. This mild winter could have set us for a bad year with them.
“A small amount of our soybeans are blooming and some haven’t even been planted. None of our corn is quite at tassel.”
Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi
“Our cotton ranges from first true leaf to some at 12 nodes. Plant bugs are picking up just a bit – nothing bad or scary. We’re maintaining over 90% retention, including in fields that have not had an insecticide treatment, even for thrips.
“We are sweeping up plant bugs a little in soybeans and corn. But it’s rained so much that they can hold up in other crops and in wild hosts for the time being.
“We’re finding an occasional plant or two that has been sapped over by aphids. These are fields where we still haven’t applied anything for other insects, so nothing has been done that would take out beneficials. It’s a little puzzling that aphids have turned up in these spots.
“In places, we did do a lot of thrips spraying last week and had to work in those treatments between rains – maybe only an hour of spraying at a time. We at least got past the thrips in those locations. A little more cotton is still in the thrips stage, but they’re mostly behind us now. Where we did spray thrips last week, I don’t think another application will be needed.
“If we can get some sunshine on this cotton, we’ll be alright. Overall, we probably sprayed 75% of the cotton for thrips, with most of that in the last 7 to 10 days (from 6/5). As soon as plant bug numbers pick up we’ll start applying Pix and include something for them, too. We’re trying to clean up weeds and grass in cotton and beans. That’s been difficult with these persistent rains.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee
“We have some dry spots but are mostly wet (as of 6/6). A little rain fell over the weekend, just popup showers, but our soil moisture ranges from adequate to well above adequate.
“We’re finally passing through the thrips window – and it was a pretty long one this year. The weather didn’t warm up and some cotton suffered a bit when it stalled out. Populations are beginning to subside. With this warmer weather now, we’re hoping the later cotton quickly blows through thrips pressure.
“I’m not aware of any cotton squaring yet.
“Soybeans have been pretty quiet except for slugs, but they’re beginning to fade away. Japanese beetles are obvious in some soybeans, but numbers have to be extreme to justify treating. I posted an item on our blog that goes into that.
“A pretty big southwestern corn borer (SWCB) flight has been underway in certain areas. We plant very little non-Bt corn now, and the biggest acreage in that tends to be in refuges managed by federal wildlife programs, and they don’t permit GMO seed. That acreage tends to get pummeled after a big SWCB flight. Based on the trap counts, the moths peaked about 10 days ago, and this would be the week to spray if you have non-Bt corn in that situation.”
David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi
“Rain and cool weather delayed crop development. Cotton planted in April is taking 5 to 6 weeks to square. Normally, we would expect it to start in 30 days, but the heat units simply haven’t been there. We’ve gotten more accustomed in recent years to cotton emerging and growing off fast, but that’s not the case this spring.
“I know of 3,000 to 4,000 acres that haven’t been planted yet, but I’m told cotton will go on that land. Hopefully, things will dry up enough that planters will be running by the weekend. We’ve been spraying for thrips.
“Corn is beautiful but soybeans have had almost too much water and aren’t growing like you’d expect. With all the rain, urea is being flown into corn rather than waiting until it’s dry enough to apply nitrogen by ground. Some urea also has been flown onto cotton to keep it from running out.”
Rain and flooding have pushed a good deal of wildlife into farmers’ fields. Trent LaMastus, a Mississippi consultant, sent us a couple of shots of a black bear (photo to left) sighted on one of his farmer’s property near Belzoni, Mississippi. Just four hours later his son called to say that he had just seen a bear 40 miles away.
“What are the odds of that?” LaMastus asked. “I think it shows that the rivers have been rising, so any bears out there have been moving to higher ground.”
A short video of an alligator in soybeans also has been circulating in social media. While the exact location wasn’t specified in the video we viewed, there’s been some speculation that the alligator was found in the same general part of the Delta where LaMastus photographed the bear.
Tennessee Weeds: Dicamba Performance – Expectation vs. Reality – Video 6-7
Texas High Plains Cotton: Crops Look Good, Heavy Thrips Infestations 6-7
Cotton Market: Will Expected Demand Arrive Soon Enough? 6-7
Cotton – Southwest – Weather Helping Most; Others Still to Wet – AgFax 6-7
Weed Resistance: Make Smart Herbicide Decisions, so History Doesn’t Repeat Itself 6-7
Tennessee: Signs and Symptoms of PPO Resistance – Video 6-6
Tennessee Cotton: Thinking About Plant Bug Control 6-6
Mississippi Cotton: Thrips and Herbicide Co-Applications 6-6
Dicamba Drift Damage – 4 Steps to Take if Happens to You – DTN 6-6
DTN Fertilizer Outlook: Ammonia Prices Took a Dive – Plenty of Reason 6-6
Louisiana Field Reports: Wet Conditions Hamper Field Work, Crop Development 6-6
More Cotton News
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