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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.
Running ahead? Several of our contacts noted this week that their cotton feels like it’s considerably ahead of schedule, both in terms of crop development and pest pressure. Well before the Fourth of July, some cotton had already been blooming for 7 to 10 days.
Plant bug sprays are picking up on a wider basis. In cotton with the heaviest pressure, 3 or even 4 applications have gone out. Those tend to be on fields adjoining corn that has hit brown silk or soybeans that have moved past blooming.
Bollworm egg laying has started. Concerns linger about how well dual-gene cotton will hold up, based on slippage in the last couple of years. See plant bug comments by Angus Catchot, David Hydrick and Trent LaMastus, among others.
Louisiana still needed rain as we closed out our calls on Tuesday night. Since then, at least some rain did develop.
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:
“Depending on your location, plant bugs range from low to moderate to absolutely terrible. In certain areas, particularly around corn, they are about as tough as I’ve seen the in a number of years.
“They continue migrating into cotton and you have to jump on them and stay on them. When this movement ends, it ends, but until then you can’t let up. Regardless of what you spray, the adult numbers will remain high as the migration continues. A few people are dealing with some pretty big numbers similar to what I’m contending with in some of my research plots in the south Delta.
“I’ve had a number of calls in the last couple of days (from 7/3) about worm eggs, and that’s surprising. I’ve been looking at a lot of corn around the state, doing surveys, and I have a pretty good gauge about the size of the majority of the worms are in corn. Based on that, I was really expecting this main flight to hit around July 10-15 but I was leaning more toward July 15.
“However, quite a few people reported some pretty good egg lays just in the last few days.
“On the dual-gene varieties, we still recommend using the 20% egg-lay threshold to trigger an application with a product like Prevathon. We’re basing that on the way worms have been coming through in the last few years. On the VIP varieties, we’re not going with an egg-type threshold.
“It’s too early to say that we will see slippage this year but the Bt corn I’ve been in this season is slap full of worms, which also was the case over the last couple of years. Based on what I’m seeing and what my colleague Gus Lorenz (Extension Entomologist) is saying in Arkansas, it looks like we could have a pretty long flight.
“Over the next couple of weeks, we need to be checking bloom tags and terminals for eggs. Anyone walking these fields – including consultants, dealers and Extension agents – needs to pin down which varieties and technologies the grower planted in each field. If we’re working off an egg threshold, we need to know what was planted because our recommendations are based on the technology.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:
“We’re definitely seeing a little uptick on plant bugs, with some stink bugs in the mix, too. The only calls I’ve had about cotton this week (as of 7/3) have been on that topic. None of these are blow-out situations but plant bugs are more consistent, for sure. A lot of applications are going out and I expect that to continue into next week.
“All this is happening a little ahead of schedule but our cotton is a little ahead of schedule, too. It’s unusual to have a lot of blooms in this July 1-3 window but this week they’re easy to find.
“I’m now trying to get everyone to rotate some Diamond or Transform into their plant bug program and their tankmix combinations, and I think they’ll fit well in this early bloom window. Each product has a different mode of action, so that works well in terms of rotation and resistance management.”
Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton and Corn Specialist:
“It’s still hot and dry and we need a rain all over the state. Cotton is blooming and we’re in a world of hurt as we try to finish out this crop. We need that Fourth of July rain everywhere. The forecast called for rain today (7/3) that was supposed to slide over from Mississippi but that never happened.
“I’ve looked at cotton all day and the fruit and boll set are tremendous, even on a lot of the dryland cotton, but I don’t know how much longer it will hold. Everyone who can irrigate is doing so.”
Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist:
“Over the last 10 to 14 days, plant bugs really started kicking up. That’s one of the 2 main focuses right now. The other is irrigation, depending on where you are. The cotton’s demand for water always picks up at bloom and we typically see blooms on the Fourth of July. But some people began finding blooms 10 days ago.
“Retention on some of our cotton is outstanding. However, nutrient deficiencies are beginning to appear in places. Some of that may be a true deficiency where the soil isn’t carrying enough of the right nutrient. But in plenty of cases, the plant is starting to demand a lot of nitrogen and potassium, in particular. Where plants can’t keep up with that flow to the growing points, they’re drawing nutrients from leaves and we see the symptoms.”
Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:
“Most of the crop is into flowering and is growing fast, and plant growth regulators are going out on a wide basis to slow it down. Moisture is adequate pretty much across the board and things are looking good.
“Several people have said that we’ve moved into bloom in a better position than the state has had in several years. We’re certainly set up for a good crop. Receiving rainfall over the next 3 or 4 weeks will be critical, of course.”
Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:
“We’re running far ahead with this crop. I’ve talked with people who say it feels to them like we’re a month ahead.
“We went through most of June getting our cotton to layby and desperately needed a rain along the way, but it remained dry in a lot of places. That’s beginning to show now. Some cotton at first flower is running 6 or 7 NAWF, but what we like to see at that point is 9 or 10. A lot of fields I looked at today (7/3) were already at 5 or 6 NAWF and haven’t been blooming that long.
“The challenge now is to try to keep plants from cutting out prematurely. If we don’t stump our toe, we ought to be able to maintain cotton at 5 to 6 NAWF for a couple of weeks or maybe even 3 weeks in a few cases. I think we’ll be happy with the crop if we can follow through like that.
“To keep the plant from cutting out, we’ll mainly need 2 things – sunshine and water. We have abundant sunshine so far. With water, we need to keep enough moisture available to the plants to continue moving forward.
“At this point, don’t do anything crazy with irrigation. One farmer said his plants are too short and he wants to put on more height. That’s counterproductive. If you let plants get vegetative again, they’ll grow a lot of stalk but shed a lot of fruit, too. That also will delay progress to maturity and maybe cause some other complications, and you could end up this fall with a big switch in the top of the plant.
“A lot of what we’re dealing with now are situations where irrigation didn’t start soon enough. Again, don’t overcompensate. One farmer said he knew he waited too long for the first irrigation, so he made up for that by giving the crop a really big drink this time. That’s the worst thing you can do.
“Again, we want to maintain enough moisture to keep plants in the reproductive phase for another couple of weeks. Staying on top of plant growth regulator applications is a necessity, too. We’re trying to strike a delicate balance – enough water, but not too much or too little.
“I know that this will be difficult. As dry and as hot as it’s been in parts of the state, some growers are having trouble getting water across their fields and are playing catchup. We talk about the so-called ‘Fourth of July rain’ and in many years we do get rainfall right around the holiday. The dryland crop needs it right away but growers who irrigate could still use a good rain right now, too.
“Bollworm moths flights are going on everywhere, it seems. I haven’t been finding many eggs but I am concerned about how worms will trend this year, especially when people tell me about less-than-satisfactory control in corn with the Vip gene. That scares me. We need to be scouting. As Gus Lorenz (Extension Entomologist) says, when you find a 5-day-old worm, you can’t do much with it except to stand back and watch it eat.”
Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:
“We are very, very, very dry. All the dryland crops are suffering and dryland corn is about shot. Where anyone can irrigate, pumps are running at full force.
“I’m in a 2,000-acre block of cotton right now (7/3) that we haven’t had to treat in 10 days for anything, but today the bollworm trap counts picked up and I’m finding 15% eggs. Spider mites are light but they are everywhere, so we’ll have to do something with them.
“We have a chance of rain today and also on Thursday and Friday, then rain will mostly move out of the forecast. We will begin treating a lot of this cotton on Friday. We don’t have any bad situations but obviously do need to make applications. This will be the second application for mites. Plant bugs aren’t bad but we’re having to stay on top of them every 7 to 9 days.
“Our cotton is carrying a tremendous fruit load and even the dryland cotton mostly looks good.”
David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi:
“This may be the prettiest cotton crop we’ve ever had. We do have some dry spots, but it will all be good if we can get rain this week. Plant bug numbers are low. I’m seeing a few aphids. Any spider mites are in dry areas. Probably the biggest thing we’re doing now (7/3) is putting out Pix.”
Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri:
“We’re well into bloom and ahead of schedule, I would say. Here it is July 2 and the pest pressure seems more like what we expect on July 12. Plus, cotton is holding a lot more blooms than I normally expect before the Fourth of July.
“We’re spraying plant bugs on an as-needed basis. We’re finding a lot of them around corn, at least in places. Most are tarnished plant bugs but clouded plant bugs are in the mix, too, and more than I’m used to seeing. A few fields have needed a second treatment, and that cotton has usually been next to corn.
“A few mites are around, mostly on edges. I haven’t noted much aphid activity yet. The same goes for worms, and I hope they don’t become an issue. Some Bt varieties didn’t hold up well against corn earworms last year.”
Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi:
“Our oldest cotton is beginning its third week of bloom and we have a really good fruit load on both young and older cotton. For various reasons, we had trouble planting some of the last cotton, so it’s kind of at pinhead.
“Plant bug numbers are some of the lightest I’ve seen for this point in the season unless cotton is around corn and soybeans. Plant bug control has been satisfactory but we’re having to come back a little sooner where cotton is near soybeans that have finished blooming or corn that’s maturing out.
“We’re finding a fresh flush of plant bugs in some of that cotton every couple of days. On the other hand, some cotton hasn’t been treated for anything in nearly 2 weeks (from 7/2). But other fields have been treated every 6 to 8 days, depending on the pressure. We’re now up to 4 applications in places and may have trimmed some, too.
“Most of our cotton is averaging about 17 nodes but we have fields that are close to 20 nodes.
“We’ve been flushing a lot of bollworm moths as we move through the older cotton and I picked up bollworm eggs on bloom tags this morning for the first time this year. So, that’s the next thing on the radar.
“We still have a few spots of spider mites. We had mostly beaten them down over the last 2 or 3 weeks but they’re popping up again. We’re flushing moths in beans and seeing the occasional worm in beans.”
Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:
“Last week it rained 5 inches across about a 5-day period. The amounts varied from day to day and place to place, but if you totaled each gauge, most locations hit about 5 inches. Needless to say, we’re using a generous amount of Pix.
“Our 10- and 12-node cotton should start blooming today (7/2), particularly in fields where we’ve made multiple Pix applications. We’ve gotten across with plant bug applications and those are working well. As soon as plants have 6 nodes of fruit, plant bugs arrive and we’ve had thresholds out there. I’m also seeing quite a few brown stink bugs in pre-bloom cotton”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:
“We’re fighting plant bugs. We’re on the second or third treatment in a big part of the crop and have made a fourth application in places. We treated them pretty hard last week and are coming back this week.
“Corn is going into brown silk, so plant bugs are moving out of that. Where we have early beans at R4, they’re coming out of those fields, too. Plus, wild hosts are drying up, so plant bugs are migrating out of woods and creek banks.
“In some locations today (7/2), counts ran into the 20s and even 30s. In places, we’re treating twice a week where big numbers are streaming into cotton and square retention fell to unacceptable levels. The pressure is high enough that we saw the square set decline, even spraying twice a week. I’m finishing my last round of Transform and will transition to using Diamond on the next round.
“So far, the plant bug population is 95% adults. We’re on the first and second week of bloom on 80% to 85% of our fields and the rest will be blooming shortly. A few mites are scattered around and we’ve been treating them sparingly. But, we’ve been treating them sparingly for the last month and a half.
“We’re trying to finish all of our layby treatments and we’ve run a lot of plant growth regulator in the last 2 weeks.”
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