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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.
Residual herbicides have browned up some cotton more than might be expected, two of our contacts noted this week. The effect has occurred with several products and/or adjuvants. No theories about why plants seem more sensitive this year.
Plant bug applications are increasing on a wide basis. No runaway situations are being reported. Some aphids are being sprayed in Louisiana, mostly in conjunction with plant bug treatments. Spider mite treatments continue.
Rain continues to be spotty and highly variable through much of the region.
Plant growth regulator applications were a big topic this week as growers try to gain early control of newer and more aggressively growing varieties.
Pigweed remains a challenge in parts of the Midsouth. Early on, rain didn’t come quickly enough to activate herbicides in some areas. Later, too much rain kept growers from making timely applications.
Planting may have finally wrapped up, but who knows for sure? Higher cotton prices and a lower bean market shifted some late acres to cotton. A few late acres of cotton went in behind wheat in Tennessee.
Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:
“We really need a rain, especially for younger cotton that hasn’t developed a deep root system. On the other hand, our older cotton has huge leaves and its roots are getting into deeper moisture, even though the top of the soil profile is dry.
“So, we’ve got 2 different situations – the older cotton needs Pix and the younger cotton wants water. I’d avoid watering that later cotton just yet because it needs more time to develop its root system. Also, the forecast says we have a pretty good chance of rain near-term (as of 6/13), so we don’t want to irrigate and then suddenly get a 3-inch rain. However, our older cotton will need a rain soon.
“Where we’ve gotten rain this week, it’s been spotty. I was on one farm that received 3 inches yesterday but I also drove through big areas that were bone dry.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:
“Spider mites are picking up a little more in places. Treatments are going out in spots, more so than last week, but nothing is out of control yet. I’ve heard one report of less-than-satisfactory control with abamectin. I hope that’s not the norm. The consultant who told me about it said he’s switching to another product in his area.
“Plant bugs are present in places – nothing that’s extremely heavy. A few treatments are going out. Bollworm trap counts went up significantly last week. I looked at a little corn and found quite a few eggs on it. We’ll see what the July flight does.
“Some beans are pushing R4 and people are considering a fungicide and are asking whether to throw in an insecticide. If nothing’s out there, you won’t make any money doing that, plus you’ll risk taking out beneficial insects and flaring something else later. Except for reports of scattered and light stink bugs, not much is happening in beans anyway.”
Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas:
“Our cotton ranges from some planted last week to the oldest at about the twelfth node. Where it was planted last week, you can credit that to the market moving past 90 cents a pound. To top it off, this last cotton is dryland.
“More than anything else lately, we’ve been trying to clean up pigweed. We sprayed thrips here and there and have treated a handful of fields for plant bugs. We’ve got to get Pix out pretty soon, too.
“The last rain fell during a big storm the weekend before last and totals ran a half-inch to an inch, mostly in isolated areas. We’d take another rain right now but without the storm. Soybeans range from some that we’re trying to water up to the oldest at R4. We’re irrigating corn. The storm damaged some corn, either snapping it or leaning plants over pretty hard. Aside from that, corn looks pretty good.”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist:
“Parts of Louisiana remain dry (as of 6/12) and we need rain on a wide basis. With these conditions, aphids are becoming more apparent and I’ve had a number of calls about aphids picking up, as well as plant bugs.
“With our earlier planted corn, we’ve moved to brown silk and those fields are progressing to maturity. So, plant bugs in that corn are heading into cotton. Plus, it’s so dry that wild hosts may have senesced and now we’re seeing an influx of plant bugs from that source. Treatments are going out on a big portion of our squaring cotton.
“I expect to find blooms on our oldest cotton in central Louisiana in the next week. A lot of guys are starting their plant growth regulator sprays, especially in varieties that grow aggressively. We’ve got to stay on top of PGR applications with several of these varieties. It sounds a bit odd for an entomologist to stress the need for PGRs but gaining control of growth will influence how well you keep insects in check later.
“Plant bugs like rank cotton. With rank cotton, it’s also harder to reach plant bugs with applications, so they keep working over the fruit. When plants lose fruit, they grow that much more, so it’s even harder to reach insects. Plus, rank cotton increases the risk of diseases like target spot and complicates defoliation.
“So, getting height under control early goes a long way towards controlling insects later. People are planting certain of these aggressive varieties for the first time and they’ve got to be proactive with growth management.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:
“Plant bug activity is picking up a little and more fields are being sprayed every week. The counts aren’t really bad but are pretty consistent across the state. Where numbers might be a bit elevated, it’s still nothing outrageous.
“Mostly, I suspect, plant bugs are still holding on wild hosts. Now that corn is tasseling and silking, some are migrating into that. Once the corn moves past that stage, plant bugs will begin dispersing and it will be ‘game on’ in cotton.
“The bollworm moth flight last week has extended into this week and some eggs have been laid in cotton. We’ll see whether they develop in pre-bloom cotton. In one 4-day stretch, we picked up 636 moths at a trap at Pine Bluff, so the flight persists. I walked across from the trap to a corn field and it looks like moths are mostly laying in corn.
“Mite activity continues in northeast Arkansas and into the Missouri bootheel. As hot and dry as it’s been, populations will likely increase. We’re kicking up a few bollworm moths and yellowstriped moths in soybeans. I’m kind of anxious to see what this bollworm flight does in blooming beans.”
Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:
“Most of our cotton is squaring now. A few people added a bit more cotton instead of planting soybeans. That was around June 1 to June 4. When the cotton market went to around 93 cents, beans didn’t look as good.
“Rain has been variable. With cotton, some areas have received too much and others are beginning to need rain. It’s still scattered, like you fired buckshot at a map. No cotton has been irrigated yet except where people watered it up. On the other hand, everyone is irrigating corn pretty hard.”
Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:
“Scattered rain fell over the past week but things have generally dried out and cotton is quickly moving into squaring. I got my first call today (6/12) about Pix. The grower was considering a light rate on cotton that’s just starting to square. With some of these more vigorous varieties, it could be difficult to slow them down later, especially in bottoms.
“We will have at least a little doublecrop cotton in Tennessee this year. Market shifts – a drop in soybeans futures and higher cotton prices – prompted a few growers to put in cotton behind wheat, so planters were chasing the combines. If we have a good fall, those farmers should make a decent amount of money. I’ve never heard of anyone planting doublecrop cotton on a commercial basis in Tennessee. Maybe this is a first.”
Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri:
“Our cotton ranges from 4 to 5 leaves and not quite squaring up to 9 leaves and 4 visible squares. Any recent rain has been in very small areas. Overall, it’s dry and hot.
“Plant bug treatments started just here and there, nothing wholesale. We’re checking each field and spraying as needed. So far, I’m not finding spider mites, although they can’t be far away if this dry pattern stays in places. We’re putting out a little Pix on some fields.
“The biggest issue so far has been about herbicides. Postemerge sprays dinged up some cotton. We’re not sure if this relates to certain surfactants or herbicides, but it has really browned up some leaves. We’re told this is cosmetic and shouldn’t affect yields but in the short run it’s not something you want to see, regardless of the outcome.
“With some applications, a drift retardant had been in the tank. Where they left that out, we still saw the problem. In places, that cotton looks kind of sad. Drift hasn’t been a big issue, just one or two instances. Where my growers have Enlist cotton, they’ve been super careful about spraying conditions and surrounding crops. In certain cases, they’ve shifted to another herbicide.
“A lot of our crop was planted without herbicides except for a limited burndown treatment. When we did spray soil-applied materials, it didn’t always rain in time for incorporation. We also had a 10- to 14-day stretch where rain kept us out of the field, so pigweed got too big in places.
“Growers have been coming back over the top to clean up marestail and pigweed. Depending on what they planted, they’ve been applying dicamba or 2,4D. We’re now past the window for applying dicamba. Where homesites and susceptible crops were nearby, they’ve gone with Liberty. I wouldn’t say fields are perfectly clean yet, but my growers are working on it. Irrigation has started on some cotton.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:
“We’re spraying plant bugs in cotton a bit more consistently now. That’s not particularly unusual, just a scout-and-spray scenario.
“This is the time of year when growers are going across with a herbicide and deciding if they have enough plant bugs to treat. One complication this year has been whether the label on certain of the new herbicides would permit growers to include an insecticide or maybe limit the choices.”
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:
“It’s dry. We’ve only had scattered showers here and there. Cotton is shaping up. Most all of the cotton I check has pinhead squares and some of the oldest now (6/11) has 4 to 5 squares. We’re starting Pix applications.
“Plant bug pressure has been really low where I’m scouting. In places where we’re finding a few, we are including an insecticide as we go across the field just to take the pressure off.
“I’m excited about the strong way roots have developed. The weather was dry enough to encourage that. It’s been 2 or 3 years since we’ve had the luxury of working with deep roots. The plants pushed out of the thrips period and they’re putting on big leaves. As the old timers used to say, plants are ‘shanked up’ nicely.
“Probably our biggest hurdle is that we didn’t get good herbicide activity in cotton and soybeans, so we’re battling a few more pigweeds than in recent years. We’re finding that dicamba probably isn’t the magic answer that everyone thought it would be. Some first-time users assumed it would put pigweed back in the ground, but a few days later they realized they would have to come back with something else. By the time they sprayed, pigweeds were too big. Some hoeing seems likely.
“Anyone who can water corn and soybeans is doing so. Disease pressure has been very, very light – the lowest in 4 or 5 years. That’s probably the result of this dry, hot weather. But even in hybrids that are susceptible to various diseases, nothing is showing up. With this heat, it’s like someone hit the fast-forward button on the corn and it’s really changed quickly. Soybeans range from just emerging to R3, so some guys are applying fungicides in their earliest beans.”
Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist:
“We’re done with planting. A few guys in northeast Mississippi finally had dry enough conditions to get in the field. In spots, more than 40 inches of rain have already fallen in that area this year, so they have had one delay after another. Those farmers probably planted the last cotton in the state this season.
“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve discovered that a lot of this cotton is a bit more sensitive to residual herbicides that are going out. We’re finding a fair amount of burn from a range of products. You see some of that every year. But for whatever reason, plants have been more sensitive than usual and we’re noticing a good bit of burn from pretty much all of the products in that category.
“Some off-target spray injury is turning up. Loyant drift has been identified in places but injury from 2,4D or dicamba have gained a bit of momentum in cotton country, as well. I don’t have a good handle on how bad any of this is yet. People have called, but the phone isn’t ringing off the wall.
“Rains have been spotty, just showers here and there. We’re right at the front end of our plant growth regulator applications. A fair amount of PGR went out early but I think a lot of that was where people wanted to get out ahead of aggressive varieties. On average, we’ve probably put out heavier doses than usual for it being this early.”
Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton and Corn Specialist:
“Rain continues to be very spotty, with no general system yet. I just came out of a meeting on irrigation that included agents from all over the state. Our consensus was that it’s abnormally dry everywhere in Louisiana.
“In the last 4 years, we’ve had plenty of rain – too much at times for cotton, in my opinion – and that kind of spoiled us. The last really dry year was 2011. I don’t know of anyone irrigating cotton yet. But if we don’t see more consistent rainfall, people will be pumping water toward the end of the month as cotton begins blooming. Our oldest corn is in the milk stage and growers who can irrigate are running pumps across the state.”
Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi:
“We’ve had very little rain lately. When it has rained, it’s been spotty. We’re not hurting yet, although crops on our black land could use a rain right away. On the sandy ground, both cotton and soybeans look good and are growing off well. On heavy ground, plants are beginning to draw up a little.
“Our cotton ranges from just emerged to the tenth node. We’re fighting thrips on some late-planted cotton that’s not growing well right now (6/11). On our good cotton, we’re applying 16 ounces of Pix.
“Plant bugs have been rare. I’ll bet I haven’t seen 4 or 5 all year and cotton is holding fruit very nicely. No spider mites. I’m finding stink bugs in soybeans here and there and everything so far has been brown.”
Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:
“Cotton planting has pretty much wrapped up in north Alabama and the crop is off to a pretty good start. Some early-season Pix applications are starting at low rates.
“Our oldest cotton is probably a couple of weeks into squaring. I’m not aware of any plant bug treatments, although some may already have gone out. Several consultants are beginning to see retention dropping and another guy said he was lining up to treat.
“A fair number of auxin herbicide applications have been going out and people are satisfied with control. No drift issues have arisen and hopefully it will stay that way.”
Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:
“Cotton is several weeks into squaring now (6/11) and we’ve had a little plant bug pressure. Our non-irrigated cotton – which accounts for most of our acreage – needs a rain. It’s rained a little in places but we haven’t had a good general event for all of our crops. Our non-irrigated cotton on heavy ground is growing in slow motion.
“No spider mite pressure. Where we have cotton on lighter textured soils, we have applied some plant growth regulator.”
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