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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.




The cotton crop is running ahead of schedule on a wide basis, our contacts continue to note. One key indicator was the amount of bloom that already had started before the Fourth of July.


Bollworm moths are more active and are laying eggs on a fairly wide basis now. Some treatments are going out.


Plant bugs persist. The heaviest pressure has been near corn, which typically is the case. Treatments continue and intervals have been tightened in more areas.




Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton and Corn Specialist:

“We still need a rain in parts of the state but we have received at least some in the last week. It was spotty in certain areas and people are still irrigating cotton in places. We’ve now been in bloom for 2-plus weeks. The crop has been progressing fast. Conditions in May were warm right out of the box.”


Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:

“NAWF weren’t quite where we wanted when blooming started but plants remain pretty vegetative. Most people, I think, are trying to extend things as they can and several told me that their NAWF number is at least flat. Where we had situations like this in the past, we still managed to make good yields.


“A few fields have cut out. Yield potential was set back when it got too dry and irrigation didn’t start soon enough. This was in later planted cotton that missed some rains in June, which would have helped. With so much weed control to catch up on, people were reluctant to roll out polypipe ahead of layby, which led to delays on the first irrigation.”


Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:

“We’re getting scattered showers but they’re falling in more places. I’m not sure if this rain will prolong our misery or save our rear ends. For a number of growers, this is the first decent rain since they planted their cotton in May. We’ve been watering some cotton just to get it to take up fertilizer.


“Given all the heat units that we built during June, we have a great fruit load and strong retention. Plants didn’t shed anything and they began stacking nodes. One or two guys were late with starting irrigation. But by and large, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.


“A run of plant bugs developed about 10 days ago, which started as soon as corn moved into dent. But we’ve been able to very adequately control these populations. I can’t say that I’m checking any cotton where we’re playing from behind against plant bugs, and that’s a great feeling.


“We’re probably tip-toeing into a bollworm moth flight. That seemed to start over the weekend and into today (7/9). Very, very low levels of eggs are out there and we might rarely find a live larva in a bloom tag.


“So far, the moth flight isn’t shaping up like what we dealt with in 2017. When the flight started last year, we hit a 100% egg lay really fast, and we knew we’d have to spray immediately. But this year it seems to be a steady and more prolonged egg lay. We’ll have to scout a little harder this year and try to make the timeliest recommendations possible.



“In soybeans, insect pressure is very, very light. I’m watching pretty closely for bollworms in one field in Morehouse Parish. We picked up a few there, nothing at threshold, so we’ll see how that looks this week. No redbanded stink bugs have appeared.”


Tyson Raper, Cotton Specialist, University of Tennessee:

“Cotton looks very good right now (7/10). I’m a little nervous, in fact, saying how really nice it looks. High winds that came with some scattered showers did twist up and lay down some cotton in concentrated areas, but that’s about the only negative thing lately. Growers are trying to be more aggressive with plant growth regulators on some of these new varieties. The heat has really pushed cotton along and it’s gotten the rain it needed.”


Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:

“This crop looks almost too good to be true. Plants are carrying a great fruit load, although we know it won’t hold onto all of it. Conditions haven’t been as favorable in a spot or two, but rainfall in most places has been good. Quite a few acres were already blooming in the week before the Fourth of July.


“The main challenge now is controlling growth. Plant bug populations are average or maybe even below average, with higher counts in just a few areas. The moth flight hasn’t started yet but we’re gearing up for it. A lot of Bidrin and Diamond are going out to clean up any plant bugs ahead of worms. We haven’t had quite the bollworm pressure in the last couple of years as some neighboring states, but several consultants feel like more pressure might develop in certain areas than we’re used to seeing.”


Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri:

“It’s still hot and dry (as of 7/10). Pivots have gone around multiple times and growers with furrow irrigation are starting on their second watering. The crop is kind of in mid-bloom. I haven’t seen much fruit shed, but I know that at some point that will change. The plant simply can’t hold everything, but things generally do look fine. All this sunshine and clear skies have been a boon for cotton, and the crop is progressing fast.


“On the Fourth of July, at least 80% of our fields had started blooming, maybe more than that. Some started on June 20.


“We’re treating plant bugs as needed. The pressure isn’t always next to corn. Sometimes, we’re finding them next to soybeans or potatoes. In places, we’ve tightened intervals, and have sprayed 3 or 4 times. Overall, I think we have them under control. Spider mites have been floating around, kind of cropping up where we usually have them.


“My growers have been on top of Pix this year and they started early. Growth has only gotten a bit out of hand in a couple of cases.”


Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

“Plant bug movement continues in places and we’re finding pretty big numbers where corn is on 3 sides. But in general, more plant bugs are out there this week, based on both drop cloth and sweep net counts.


“Also, this is looking like a bit of a stink bug year. More people are making that observation and treatments have been made in some earlier soybeans. That’s a stark contrast to last year when we could hardly find any stink bugs.


“Light egg lays have turned up here and there, but I still think we’re 10 to 14 days from any concerted activity. But a few people in more traditional hotspots for bollworms are finding 8% to 10% eggs and a small number of scattered worms. A limited number of treatments have been made.


“My guess is that cotton is running 7 or so days ahead of schedule, and the moths are, too, so they’re already trickling into some fields. It’s been hot this season and plenty of cotton was planted earlier than usual and we had cotton blooming in the first week of July, which is highly unusual for us.


“Spider mite populations are still scattered. They’re not atrocious but some treatments are going out.”


Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

“The plant bug situation varies widely, depending on location and proximity to corn. It ranges from absolutely horrible to some of the lightest pressure I’ve seen in a while. We’re still not done with the adult migration from corn in some areas but the movement is maybe dwindling a bit. Now, we’re mostly dealing with immatures in cotton, so we’re into more of a normal stride with plant bugs now.


“Bollworm egg lays are a little more widespread, although there’s some variability. We’re flushing moths in some places but not in others. Just like with plant bugs, corn is the driver here.


“A few more people have complained about abamectin not working on spider mites. Even though we’ve had resistance issues, it’s hard to pull folks away from it because abamectin is so cheap. But you really should consider switching to alternate modes of action if you applied abamectin and it’s not helping 6 to 8 days out.



“With this big egg lay in cotton, I fully expect bollworm activity in late-planted beans that are still blooming and where the canopy hasn’t closed. We could see treatable levels in 5 to 10 days (from 7/11). A few stink bugs are scattered around in soybeans, with only an occasional redbanded stink bug.”


Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

“Plant bugs have blown up in plenty of cotton. People are spraying hard but are under the impression that products are failing. In fact, plant bugs are in a mass migration into cotton, so numbers aren’t going down, even though you’re taking out big numbers each time you spray.


“We sprayed plant bugs in plots at Marianna last Friday and the counts were above threshold 4 days later. That’s the scenario people are reporting. Where they have been aggressively going after plant bugs, their square set remains good – often above 80%. That proves that the materials are working against a big influx of plant bugs. People who are spraying every 5 days are holding the line.


“Farmers planted corn in a wide window, so some migration will continue as later fields move into black silk.


“Bollworms are hitting cotton now in southeast Arkansas, especially in traditional hot spots. In places, 90% of plants have at least one egg. With that kind of pressure, we recommend treatments before the eggs hatch in everything but the triple-gene varieties.


“Hot, dry weather has favored spider mites and they’re still building, particularly in north Arkansas. People also report spider mites in soybeans, and that’s a concern. So far, worms are spotty in soybeans but moths are still coming out of corn and haven’t hit their peak.”


Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:

“Pix is going out on most of our cotton – every irrigated acre and we’re also hitting dryland fields where it’s rained. Everything is blooming except cotton planted in late May and early June when the market hit 92 or 93 cents and planters eased to the fields again.


“In places, we’re having to Pix cotton every week. With the rain, irrigation or both, some of these varieties are trying to take off. Certain fields have received 16 ounces 7 days apart for 3 straight weeks. That seems to do better than hitting it with one big shot.


“I’m finding aphids and scattered spider mites. In one location, we sprayed mites where they had started spreading. So far, we haven’t sprayed aphids but will probably act soon if the fungus doesn’t develop.


“This crop is moving rapidly along. On a lot of irrigated cotton, we’re at 5 to 7 NAWF and at 4 or 5 on dryland fields. That’s just the opposite of last year when it was wetter and we had fewer heat units. In 2017, the crop just kind of crawled along. Not this year.”


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

“A lot of our cotton is farther ahead than it ought to be. This heat really pushed things and we might be 2 weeks ahead of what we consider normal. Still, though, the cotton doesn’t look bad.


“Plant bugs really fired up in places and the worst fields are on their fifth spray. We’re seeing a good many moths flying but no worms yet. Spider mites are on some edges but nothing to worry me. Aphids are present, too, but we haven’t treated any.


“Plants are holding a lot of crop. We’re seeing a little shed but not anything big so far. In beans, I’m finding a lot of moths but no worms yet. Stink bugs are on edges and along tree lines. I’m debating about treating some today (7/9).”


Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi:

“My most advanced cotton has bolls a third of the way up the plant. We’re laying by a bunch of it between popup showers.


“Plant bug numbers are consistent but not high except in isolated places next to corn or where we typically deal with pressure. Some cotton hasn’t been sprayed for plant bugs yet, but in general we’re on about our third spray. I’m seeing a whitefly just here and there. A moth flight is just beginning. I found eggs today (7/9), with up to 10% in spots. We could be into spraying over the weekend and all of our regular Bt cotton will have to be treated.”


Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:

“Up until a week ago (from 7/9), the rain was kind of spotty and we still had a few dry pockets. Since then, everyone has gotten rain and we’re generally to the point that we don’t want any more right away.


“The weather has complicated getting field work done and spraying. We’ve had to go with aerial application on some things and have had our share of wash-offs due to afternoon showers. Plant growth regulators need to go out and a few plant bug sprays need to be made, too. All of that has been difficult when the rain showers usually start before lunch. Where possible, we’ve been trying to squeeze them in late in the day after the chance of rain goes down. That’s worked at times.


“So far, plant bug pressure hasn’t been as severe as expected, even near corn fields.


“In soybeans, I can find a few stink bugs, although I’m seeing fewer than expected. The winter really helped on redbanded stink bugs and they’re just about nonexistent right now (7/9). I’m finding more southern green stink bugs than redbanded, which I also didn’t expect. Even so, they’re not at treatable numbers yet.”


Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist:

“The bollworm egg lay has picked up. Moths are still flying around and we’re finding a few worms hatching out, so those were from eggs deposited a few days ago and fresh eggs are still being laid.


“Still, though, the pressure is pretty light compared to this time last year. Of course, that could change. Corn is finishing up, which forced out plenty of moths. How a lot of this plays out with worms will depend on the technology in the corn and the technology in the cotton that those moths move into.


“If you detect that control from the technology has been compromised, treat immediately. Compared to the second generation Bt technology, the third-generation varieties should offer better protection, but they’re not bulletproof, so scout those fields closely, too.


“Plant bugs are still out there but pressure seems to be easing some. Corn is winding down fast, with some approaching black layer, so the plant bug migration is falling off, too. Spider mites are hit or miss. Recent rains will help. Across a wide area, we received more rain in the last week than in the previous 2 months, and that should give us some reprieve with mites. In hot spots, though, treatments have been needed.


“With worms, I’m still of the opinion that we should give the technology a chance to work. But with the older WideStrike varieties, those need to be managed like conventional cotton as far as worms go, since that technology won’t stop them. The WideStrike 3 is better and I would still prefer waiting to see if it handles them.



“However, treatments based on egg lays may be warranted in second-generate Bt varieties if a large egg lay develops and you had slippage last year with second-generation Bts. If it’s light pressure, it may be advantageous to give the technology a chance. The threshold for determining whether the Bt is working is 6% damage with the presence of live worms.


“Avoid spraying if you’re finding less than 6% injury. Some guys are treating at 1% injury. If only 1 boll or square out of every 100 has been damaged, you won’t see an economic payback from making a $20 treatment.


“In soybeans, redbanded stink bugs are showing up in north Louisiana but not in any crazy numbers.”


Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist:

“Some areas have received pretty good rainfall in the last week, but dry conditions persist in parts of the prairie, the hills and in the Delta. Where people can irrigate, they’re running wide open. Some dryland cotton, though, clearly needs rain.


“I saw cotton yesterday (7/10) that was blooming out the top. One farm at Brooksville, which is north of Macon, has received a total of 0.7 of an inch of rain since June 1. That’s on a clay-loam soil and it has really cracked. I dropped a sign post into a crack and it went down 10 inches.”




Tennessee Cotton: Thinking Ahead About Bollworms   7-11


Tennessee Cotton: Crunch Time for Plant Bugs and Stink Bugs   7-11


Cotton Teleconference: Market Reports, Trade Sanctions and That West Texas Weather   7-11


Mississippi Cotton: Managing Irrigation Going into Bloom   7-10


Mississippi Cotton: How’s Our Crop Going into July?   7-10



More Cotton News



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