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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.
Heavy rains fell in parts of the Midsouth, starting late last week. Amounts of 2 to 4 inches were common, although totals of 6 to 12 inches fell in spots. Not surprisingly, boll rot and hard locking are turning up.
Treatments for worms and/or plant bugs continue in the very latest cotton.
More bolls are opening. We’ve heard no confirmed reports of defoliation starting, although it seems to be at hand. Forecasts for rain last week might have put early treatments on hold.
Andy Tonos, Delta Ag Consulting, Greenville, Mississippi:
“Cotton is about cut out and we’re seeing some open bolls. I’m still checking here and there but haven’t sprayed anything in over 2 weeks. Mainly, we’re waiting for defoliation.
“Corn yields have been pretty good. Everyone who can dry corn has been cutting for a while. Where people were letting it dry in the field, they started harvest a week or so back (from 8/20). Yields have been better than 200 bu/acre on both dryland and irrigated corn. The highest I’ve heard was 250 to 260. Some thin stands did better than expected.
“Soybeans range from R5 to about ready to cut. We applied desiccants on some fields about 7 days ago. The bulk of our beans are at R6 to R7. We’ve been spraying stink bugs, especially near corn. Some loopers have been treated, too, but most of our beans are outrunning loopers.”
Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana:
“We’ve had rain but generally got off light compared to other parts of the Delta. Over the past 5 days (from 8/20), we’ve had 60% to 80% chances but had only received a few tenths in places. But then 2.5 inches fell yesterday and last night in places.
“At this point with the cotton, we sure didn’t need rain. Nobody has started defoliating cotton yet, although some applications may begin in dryland cotton late this week or early next week. Some of the earliest-planted fields are maybe 25% to 30% open and perhaps more than that in spots. With popup showers last week, cotton won’t be pretty where it was open.
“We’re nearly finished with treatments. We have one field of June-planted cotton. The grower said something about spraying for plant bugs. I said he could if he wanted to, but he’d have to spray it every week at this point since it’s the only attractive thing left in that area. I’ve got a few more fields like that.
“Our corn crop is decent but probably not as good as last year’s. A couple of irrigated fields on better dirt have averaged 220 to 230 bu/acre. Dryland corn suffered. Also, you can tell where irrigation started too late or ended too soon. None of my soybeans have been cut yet (as of 8/20) but harvest aid applications have been going out.”
Trey Bullock, Bullock's Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi:
“We’ve had a lot of rain over the last 5 or 6 days (from 8/20), with totals of 6-plus inches. It seems like it’s rained every day. That wouldn’t be so bad, but we’ve also had a lot of wind and some of this good, heavy cotton has laid over. I guess with all those bolls it had a good reason for that, but we sure need it to dry up.
“We let go of most of the cotton last week. I still have fields that are way late. Stink bugs are really light, and just isolated fields have required treatments. Plant bugs picked up and we hit a lot of the older cotton one more time last week.
“In terms of disease, we have all the target spot you would ever want and a bunch of areolate mildew. In most of our counties the areolate hasn’t hurt us, but this is the second year in a row we’ve taken a pounding from it in our cotton in Covington County. It has really picked on one field there, in particular.
“I’m finding it in a couple of other counties now but those bolls are 20% open, so that cotton is safe. Until last year, I had never really seen it. If I did, it was light and I didn’t think much about it. But last year, it came out of nowhere and hit that field in Covington County.
“This year, it showed up 2 to 3 weeks ago, and we’ve applied some fungicide tests to see what that does. The weird thing is that conditions in Covington County this year had gotten dry, about to the point it would hurt us. Cotton wasn’t burning up but we had gone 10 days without rain, yet the mildew was thriving. In 2017, conditions were much wetter. It rained over and over again.
“Our peanuts are really, really quiet and have been all year. We haven’t been dealing with a lot of disease pressure or insects. I’m seeing a little feeding this week, mainly from a few velvetbean caterpillars and green cloverworms. But on the whole, we’ve maybe treated 100 acres of peanuts all year for worms. Soybeans, on the other hand, are full of green cloverworms and have been for the past 2 weeks.”
Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana:
“We moved into wetter weather – showers off and on. But we’ve gone for a week now (as of 8/21) without rain, and that’s good. On Monday (8/27), we will probably start defoliating about half of the cotton I work.
“This has been an interesting year with the low insect pressure we’ve had. Parts of the crop could have used more rain but most of the rains we did receive were pretty timely.
“In places, we still have soft bolls. That makes me nervous and I’m still looking for worms. We’re not doing anything right now in terms of insects and our last spray was at least 2 weeks ago.
“In corn, we’re about to finish harvest. The hot, dry conditions had an effect. Even in irrigated corn, the yields were pretty disappointing. Yields generally range from 60 to 160 bu/acre. Between low yields and hog damage, several growers say they won’t plant corn next year.
“This corn crop started out in a less-than-desirable way. Germination was uneven and stands weren’t uniform. Instead of most corn emerging in 2 to 3 days, it may have taken 2 weeks for everything to come up, and that’s usually a tell-tail sign of how the year will go.
“We’ve already cut some burned-up soybeans. Needless to say, they didn’t do well.
“Velvetbean caterpillars are relentless in beans. No big ones have made it through, so we are controlling them, but that’s meant spraying 3 or 4 times. We’ve had issues with wash-off, even 2 or 3 days after treatments. I’ve seen a little better rainfastness and a little better kill, I think, with the branded pyrethroids this year. Over the winter, I’m going to talk with my growers about going with products next year that have longer residual.”
Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Mississippi:
“We have open bolls now in a good many fields. Except for one or two replanted fields, everything has cracked bolls. Where we have a few green spots still around, it’s not worth the money to protect it any more.
“I think we’ll be able to defoliate a couple of burned up cotton fields in 10 to 14 days but the majority of defoliation is 3 to 4 weeks out. That timetable is based on normal temperatures, although it’s only 82 degrees right now (mid-day, 10/21).
“All of our corn is done and a good bit is waiting to be cut, but not a single stalk has been harvested yet. A lot of our soybeans are either just before R6 or have hit R6. We’ve applied paraquat on about 10% of the crop. Those acres went through drought stress early on. Our really late beans are at early R5.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:
“Rain this week varied. Some areas received nothing, especially on the east side of the state. In other places, particularly in the Delta, totals ran 1 to 9 inches. I’m hearing about hard locking where the bigger amounts fell, which isn’t surprising.
“A lot of calls in the last 2 weeks have been from people finding plenty of plant bugs in the top and asking whether they should treat. A good part of those fields are past the point that I would recommend spraying. That cotton is 350 DD60s past cutout, so you wouldn’t get your money back on the treatment, anyway.
“A lot of what you’d try to protect wouldn’t make it to harvest, and the viable bolls are safe from plant bug damage. Beyond that, we have trouble gaining plant bug control at this point in the season. By now, those fields have been sprayed with everything under the sun and plant bug control isn’t adequate, regardless of the material. That’s ironic since the bugs are on top where you’d assume control would be great.
“That’s not to say we don’t have younger cotton that still needs to be protected. But where cotton has flowered out the top, you can pretty much call it done.
“In soybeans, loopers are being sprayed in places, although we still can’t find them in some areas. The same goes for green and brown stink bugs. So, everything is situational, depending on geography. With all the rain, no one has been able to check soybeans in parts of the state for the last 4 or 5 days, so things are subject to change once people begin scouting again.”
Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas:
“I’ve terminated all of my cotton. The crop is running a week or so early and I feel like we could start defoliating some dryland cotton in 2 weeks. We probably can begin defoliating some irrigated fields in 3 weeks.
“Rain in the last 4 or 5 days (from 8/21) has varied but no place I work has received less than 4 inches and the totals in some spots are as much as 12 inches. A little of our dryland cotton had started opening and water rose up on the bottom nodes in parts of some fields. Mostly, the water moved off quickly. We’ll have to see how that turns out.
“Our corn is done and I expect that cutting will start on Monday (8/27), weather permitting. If the ground was dry, combines would have been running at the end of this week.
“In soybeans, I’ve terminated several fields. I’ll check another couple of weeks in later beans and wheat beans. I’ve been chasing stink bugs and bean leaf beetles in those beans and have sprayed several fields. More loopers have been turning up in the last couple of weeks, and I expect to treat those in the later fields, too.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:
“We’re done with insects on 80%-plus of our cotton. Bolls have started opening in quite a few fields. I don’t expect any defoliation any time soon, although someone always seems to jump out there early, so some may go out by the end of the month.
“We’re still fighting a few worms, stink bugs and plant bugs in later cotton, but that’s probably no more than 15% of our acres now (8/21).
“With soybeans, some of the very recent calls have been about corn earworms and more calls have come in about stink bugs. As the season progresses, that’s not unusual. We tend to see stink bugs build as beans hit R6. At that point, stink bugs funnel into whatever is still green. After a while, only soybeans are attractive. I’ve had scattered calls about bean leaf beetles and green cloverworms. We’re finding a few loopers here and there, just enough to notice them.
“We missed most of the big rains that hit elsewhere over the weekend.”
Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist:
“Cotton is moving along very quickly and bolls are cracking in a lot more fields. I suspect that defoliation has started in some of the earliest fields, those planted in mid to late April, probably more so in central Louisiana.
“In late cotton, we’re still dealing with plant bugs in the occasional field but a lot more cotton is being cut loose. Egg laying is occurring here and there but most of our cotton is safe from worms now (8/21).
“We’re in a little cold front but the forecast has us going into the high 90s again with plenty of sunshine over the next 10 days. That will move things along and finish up the crop a little earlier than normal. In places, the crop is quite a bit earlier than average. At this rate, we’ll be picking cotton and cutting soybeans at the same time.
“Soybeans are still abnormally quiet, and a lot of early fields will move to harvest without any insect treatments at all. I think that trend will hold with some of the later beans because loopers have not materialized like we expected. Soybeans are being cut in south Louisiana and more are being defoliated in north Louisiana. A lot of guys are still pushing to finish corn harvest and will then move straight into soybeans.”
Bob Griffin, Griffin Ag Consulting, Jonesboro, Arkansas:
“I’ve let go of 75% of my cotton, if not more. We probably will defoliate a limited number of acres next week if not the week after that.
“Our youngest cotton just reached NAWF5 but that’s no more than 5 fields that we’ll have to watch. Plant bugs are still turning up on that youngest cotton. As far as worms go, we’re kind of in a lull. If worms want to move in, they’d better hurry up before it’s all over.
“We did not get the extreme rainfall I’m hearing about in the northern part of Arkansas and over in Mississippi’s Delta counties. Between Thursday and Monday (8/20), it rained 2 to 4 inches in the Marianna area where I mainly work. That’s compared to 7 to 9 inches around Jonesboro.
“A colleague in Mississippi tweeted photos of seed sprouting in locks. We did find some hardlocked bolls but we don’t have as much cotton open as in that area. The crop looks really strong, with a tremendous number of bolls and good seed counts. I’m cautiously optimistic.
“We’ve dropped a good deal of our soybean acres. Loopers have been worse than I’ve ever seen them. I looked at later beans today (8/22) and will probably treat 75% of those acres. We’re treating quite a few stink bugs, as well.
“Some soybeans will be harvested in the next 10 to 14 days. Several people with batch driers started cutting corn. No yield numbers yet but I think corn averages will be okay, nothing exceptional. Yields around 200 bu/acre are about all I’ve heard.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:
“Some late cotton – planted in June – is covered up with plant bugs and worms. It’s the only game in town, so that small amount of late acreage has issues, to say the least. This time of the year, cotton has had every chemistry on the books thrown at it, so any insects in late cotton are harder to control. Plant bugs in this late cotton have turned into a bona fide struggle.
“When the price of cotton jumped to 90-plus cents in late spring, a few people decided to put in more acres in June rather than soybeans. Some of that went in behind wheat. This is the reality you face with late cotton. As older cotton matures, the latest fields catch every insect that’s still out there.
“We’re seeing plenty of open bolls and we’re approaching defoliation time on a lot of early cotton.
“In soybeans, things have gotten busy with soybean loopers. Populations continue to increase and more and more treatments are going out. We’re also dealing with outbreaks of saltmarsh caterpillars (SMC), and a few fields are being treated for both loopers and SMC.
“Loopers are getting worse in late beans, with a lot of those fields at R5 to R5.9, so it’s tough to decide whether to spray since those beans are moving toward the safety zone. Stink bugs continue to get worse, too. In extreme cases, people are finding one per sweep. Treatments are going out and in places loopers are in the mix, so a tankmix will be required.
“These stink bug populations are 70% green. While browns are in the mix and those aren’t as susceptible to pyrethroids, I’m suggesting that people still go with a pyrethroid. Those would be cases where beans are at R5.5 to R5.8. At R6.5, you can walk away, so the pyrethroid will take them to the finish line for the least amount of money.”
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