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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 sponsoring our coverage.
Cotton continues to run ahead of schedule. As someone put it, “The crop wants to go home early this year.” Bolls are opening on a somewhat wider basis.
Bollworm escapes and plant bugs remain a factor in later cotton or where anyone is still trying to bring along the top crop. We have heard about renewed egg laying this week in parts of Mississippi and in north Alabama. But plenty of fields won’t be sprayed again until defoliation cranks up. Spider mites are still lingering but mostly on a localized basis.
Overall, the crop shows promise except in pockets that missed a good deal of rain. We’re hearing more about target spot in the Southeast than in the Midsouth but rainfall amounts have tended to be much higher in parts of that region.
In soybeans, limited spraying has been necessary in Louisiana for redbanded stink bugs but no runaway situations appear to be taking shape. Soybean loopers will be the next player in Delta soybeans. More corn harvest is underway.
Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi:
“As far as insects go in cotton, it’s dead out there. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve sprayed anything for insects. I bet I didn’t find 10 eggs today (8/6) and very few moths were in those fields. We’ve taken care of plant bugs.
“We did apply some Pix on younger cotton to try to hold back growth so that plants will maybe feed the bolls a little better. We’ll let go of our oldest cotton next week. With the younger cotton, we’ll stay with it until the first of September.
“A couple of farmers tried to start cutting corn today. But with recent showers, moisture was running about 19% and they were debating about whether to push ahead. Rain is in the forecast for the second half of the week, so that’s figuring into their decisions.
“No worms in the soybeans. I’m not sure where stink bugs are this year, but they’re not where I’m checking. Mostly, I’ve found brown stink bugs where I’m sweeping in beans and cotton. I’ve maybe seen 10 green stink bugs all year.”
Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas:
“I’ve actually turned loose of some cotton. I haven’t figured up the percentage yet but I began letting go of some fields last week and then some more this week. This crop is moving along pretty fast. We’re still dealing with a few spider mites, but that’s about it.
“We’ve cleaned up worms for the most part and plant bugs have died down. At the rate things are going, we could see some cotton picked by September 10.
“None of our corn has been cut yet, although I’ve heard that a little harvest had started where people were cutting dryland corn at high moisture to get ahead of aflatoxin. One grower said he tried to combine some last week but the grain was still at 28% to 30% moisture. In soybeans, we’ve sprayed a pretty good bit for stink bugs here at the end. Worms, on the other hand, have mostly settled down.”
Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:
“The cotton crop in this part of Alabama still has good potential, although conditions vary. A fair amount of the crop east of Interstate 65 has caught good rainfall and potential looks excellent. That’s particularly the case as you move east from the interstate.
“But the crop definitely needs rain the closer you are to I-65 and the farther west you move from it. Potential is still there and plants set bolls early, but that part of the crop needs rain and in a hurry. It has gotten quite dry through there in the last 3 weeks. The forecast does call for rain in the second half of this week.
“Pests are relatively quiet. Everyone was on high alert for bollworms but they’ve been light. You can find an egg or a worm here and there but treatments were only triggered in a few fields – nothing like what we dealt with last year. We seem to have gotten activity out of the dual-gene cotton.
“Where growers did treat, the pyrethroids held up well when the timing was right. Some people did go with diamides where they had treatable levels but that seemed to only be on a handful of fields. But, I did receive a couple of reports today (8/7) of applications being triggered, which makes me wonder if we’ll see some bollworm numbers develop later. A few applications have gone out to clean up additional stink bugs and plant bugs.
“Corn is pretty well finished and a lot is at black layer. The early soybeans are nearing the end. Our doublecrop beans have been dry for some time and could really use a rain.”
Bill Brooks, Mid-South Farmers Cooperative, Alamo, Tennessee:
“As far as bugs go, a lot of our cotton is about to finish up. We still have another week or two to worry about worms to any extent but we haven’t seen a big influx of worms or eggs, certainly nothing to warrant spraying. We’re still cleaning up some plant bugs here and there. A lot of cotton has bloomed out the top and is still filling bolls in the upper part of the plant.
“To maintain potential, we need a good, general rain. This crop is running 10 to 14 days ahead of normal, I’d say. A lot of cotton went from first bloom to physiological cutout – 5 NAWF – in one month. With cotton, corn and soybeans, we started with plenty of heat units and they never checked up.
“Since cotton is running a little early, we may have time to finish out some of that top crop that we would write off in a lot of seasons. The starch line on a lot of our corn is probably at 50% and I think we’ll be shelling some by the end of August. We had very few April beans this time but a lot were planted in the first week of May, which is still considered early for us. They’re filling pods well up the plant now (8/7).”
Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:
“Some of our cotton is at cutout and the rest is almost there. If you look hard enough in places, you might find an open boll. We’ve had to manage plant bugs as recently as last week but I think we’re about done with it. That was in fields that received some extra fertilizer late and rainfall, so the terminals remained green and attractive later than most of the rest of our acres.
“Our bollworm situation still hasn’t been as intense as what I’m hearing about up in the Delta. Overall, our cotton looks pretty good except on fairly heavy soils where rainfall amounts ran short. Any defoliation is at least 2 to 3 weeks away.
“Corn harvest has begun and yields are all over the place. In some areas, the drought really did us wrong with dryland acres, but in other locations rains came at good times. Dryland corn yields seem to range from 90 to 170 bu/acre. A lot of the variation gets back to what kind of land the corn was on. Overall, we still have some good corn out there.
“In soybeans, we’ve applied harvest aids on some acres, specifically early MG IV acres that will be put in sugarcane after harvest. Nothing has been harvested yet except on one farm where beans were planted extremely early and not on the best ground. Those yields ran 40 to 50 bu/acre.
“Insect pressure in soybeans has been mixed. MG Vs in certain locations had to be sprayed for bollworms during R2 to R3 stages. Some earlier beans escaped stink bug pressure altogether. However, most have had one stink bug spray. As we’re putting out paraquat, a pound of acephate is being included to clean up stink bugs if counts warrant it. But in some cases that isn’t necessary if they were sprayed before.
“Redbanded stink bugs obviously had a tough winter, and those light numbers have given us a welcomed break. That’s the case with stink bugs in general but low numbers of redbanded are greatly appreciated.”
Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri:
“We’ll probably let go of some dryland cotton this week. It seems like most of the cotton we’ve made so far has been made with irrigation, and we do have some great looking irrigated fields.
“We had a battle with plant bugs but they seem to be winding down. Mostly, we took care of them last week and won’t treat many fields this week for them. A portion of the crop will be at 350 degree days past NAWF5 this week, so that moves us past plant bugs and worms. We’re pretty much at or near that point with most of our cotton. Where we’ll have to take cotton to the end of the month, it’s in fields that were watered late, maybe after cotton had already stressed.
“Spider mites have been our nemesis and we’ve been dealing with them for about a month. We finished up some fields last week where they had been just hanging in there, gradually increasing, and we felt like we needed to do something. I found aphids in a few fields yesterday (8/6) but don’t see them as a real concern right now – although they might turn into a concern once cotton starts opening.”
Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:
“Most of our cotton is at zero to 3 NAWF. With this heat, things are winding down quickly. We’re set up to have a lot of yields at 2.5 bales or higher, including in several dryland fields. That’s based on my boll counts and what I’ve seen in the past.
“Certain dryland fields might even finish with a 3-bale average. That cotton never missed rain and came along like it was irrigated. If it remains hot through August, we could be ready to launch our first defoliation spray on September 5.
“Where we’re treating, it’s for scattered stink bugs and plant bugs that are right at threshold. We’re using acephate. This isn’t anything on a wide basis, mainly where corn has been cut or it’s dried down.
“A couple of people started cutting corn. They didn’t tell me any yields but said they were extremely happy.”
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:
“Cotton is 10 days ahead of normal, generally speaking. It ranges from zero to 5 NAWF and a good bit has bloomed out the top. We’re still watching some fields but the bulk of the spending decisions on insects are behind us. The crop looks really good in spots and just kind of above average in other places and then average over the rest of it.
“Where I did have to spray for worms, boll damage ran 2% to 4%, which is pretty acceptable to me. Open bolls aren’t hard to find if you know where to look. We had some potash deficiency, either because we didn’t apply enough or this big crop just sucked it out of the ground.
“Our dryland corn is being cut, and yields are running 20 to 30 bu/acre higher than we expected, and I’m really looking forward to getting into the irrigated acres. In soybeans, we’ll probably start applying paraquat this week on some of the earliest fields.
“This has been one of the lightest insect years I can remember in soybeans and certainly light compared to the last couple of seasons. As it looks now, a lot of soybean fields will not be treated at all for insects. After the battles we fought with redbanded stink bugs in the past, we needed a break. I’ve maybe found a dozen redbanded all year. Here at the end we’re seeing some lodging, which may be a function of the variety and/or the soil type the variety was planted on.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:
“We’re cutting loose of a lot of cotton. A few plant bugs and worms are lingering, particularly in the later cotton. But the main comments this week are about how quickly this cotton is finishing up.
“With bollworms, I don’t know if the flight isn’t here yet or if it’s here but hasn’t amounted to much. Bollworms are in hot spots but they haven’t peaked like we usually expect. In places, growers are still fighting spider mites.
“I talked with someone who thought he would have open bolls this week. I’ve been here 16 years and this is, by far, the fastest crop we’ve ever had, and a few people said they might start picking in August – and they might be right. If we ever picked cotton in August, it was in 2007, which was a horrendous drought year that we’d just as soon forget.
“We still have spots where cotton took a hit from localized drought. Overall, though, the crop looks pretty good. It's amazing what can happen when we can plant cotton when it’s supposed to be planted – which we never seem to be able to do.
“In soybeans, we’re spraying stink bugs more commonly now (8/7) and that’s probably going to pick up as more beans reach R4 to R6. A few treatments for corn earworms have been going on in bottoms in late-maturing beans. We’re maybe spraying more for corn earworms in soybeans than we have for bollworms in cotton, which is unusual.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:
“We’re getting to the end fast on some of this cotton. A lot of fields have made it to NAWF5 and next week we’ll see a big part of that cut loose. People have been watching it closely, trying to make that top crop.
“In the last few days, a number of people reported another big egg lay in places. It doesn’t seem to be widespread but in certain cases the moths have been active. Most cotton has had one worm application, meaning with a diamide, and a fair amount has had a second application, with a third treatment in places. How much anyone has had to spray depends on location, it seems. Pressure has ranged from very light to extreme. Those treatments don’t count any acephate-pyrethroid sprays that have gone out.
“We’re sitting on a really good crop. Where people hit eggs in a timely manner, they’ve done a really good job of protecting yield potential. Where treatments couldn’t go out soon enough for whatever reason, that’s where cotton took damage. So, the recs related to spraying on eggs were solid and most people will tell you that. Where we had untreated dual-gene plots, the worms came through, so the proactive approach served us well this year.
“Some spider mites are still popping up and we do have dry spots. Mostly, people are trying to ride mites out since cotton is so close to being done. But in places, they’ve built back enough to prompt a few treatments.
“In soybeans, I think we’re mostly getting over bollworms. Treatments have been going out for brown and green stink bugs, with browns the primary stink bug, and bean leaf beetles have built in places. However, a lot of early beans are close to finishing up. In later beans, we’ll probably be dealing with loopers in 2 weeks.
“A few people are finding redbanded stink bugs here and there. I’m not concerned about them yet. As growers start cutting early fields, we may see a field or two that requires attention but I don’t think redbanded will be any kind of general problem this year.”
Zach Ingrum, Sanders, Inc., Athens, Alabama:
“Cotton is getting close to cutting out. We’re spraying in places for stink bugs and plant bugs and also treating for bollworms in isolated spots.
“Spider mites are around but just a handful of acres have required treatments, maybe 5% of our cotton. For our part of Alabama, they’ve actually been on the low side this year. Plenty of rain early on may have helped minimize mites.
“We’re probably 2 weeks away from the earliest corn harvest. Yield potential looks to be a little better than average. In soybeans, we’re spraying isolated areas for loopers and green cloverworms. We’re not in a drought yet but could use a rain, and showers are in the forecast over the next couple of days (from 8/7).”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist:
“Things are starting to quiet down in cotton in a lot of places. Our youngest cotton is running around 5NAWF. Older fields are running from 1NAWF to 25% to 30% open bolls.
“Bollworm issues have pretty much run their course. A big portion of the crop is moving past being susceptible, plus bollworms are transitioning out of cotton. Spider mites are still hanging around and that’s what people are calling about – but it’s not a crazy number of calls. It’s pretty normal for mites to build this time of the year. Where growers were doing those last cleanup sprays, they moved to harsher and cheaper chemistries that flare mites.
“In soybeans, a few loopers are showing up. I haven’t heard of any dedicated looper applications yet but those may start in the next week or so. Treatments are going out for redbanded stink bugs but nothing like we saw last year. This should be a ‘one and done’ situation as far as redbanded treatments go.”
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