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Owen Taylor, Editor


Here is this week's issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton


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More defoliation has started, with applications underway at least into northeast Arkansas. So far, no reports of cotton actually being picked. In parts of the region, growers are focusing on wrapping up corn harvest or starting into early soybeans.


Insect and mite issues are few and far between in cotton now and isolated to the later plantings.


In soybeans, more harvest has cranked up. Insect pressure is mixed but treatments continue in later fields. Soybean loopers have crashed in places due to the looper virus.




Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist:

“Cotton has gotten pretty quiet and a lot more fields are moving toward defoliation. Outside of the very, very late fields, insect applications have halted, I think.


“Defoliation really just started this week and more fields have either been sprayed or guys are lining up applications. A lot of growers are still wrapping up corn harvest and soybeans are being cut now. About the time soybean harvest wraps up, farmers can jump into picking cotton.


“Soybean loopers are starting to pick up more consistently in soybeans across the state but not many applications are going out. Beans matured fast and guys are cutting loose of plenty of fields in terms of loopers. Some soybeans are probably being treated for stink bugs right now (8/28) but we’ll still have a lot of fields that will be harvested without ever receiving an insecticide application this year.


“We are picking up redbanded stink bugs a little more in late soybeans. It’s nothing to be alarmed about. With the kind of winter we had, redbanded typically don’t pick up in north Louisiana until late in the season and the numbers won’t be large, either. Where people are treating for stink bugs, it’s a hodgepodge of greens and browns with some redbanded in the mix.


“Preliminary soybean yields are better than expected. I’m hearing about dryland beans at 50 bu/acre. Some irrigated beans are pretty consistently in the 80s, I’m told, with a smaller number of fields going into the 90s.”


Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

“Except in the latest cotton, I think we’re pretty much past the point that insects will matter. But people are struggling to control plant bugs in some of that late cotton. By now, we’ve thrown everything at them that’s in the warehouse, so plant bugs are harder to kill anyway, plus canopies are dense.


“With a lot of those fields, we’re past the last effective bloom date and I’m suggesting that people back away. Nobody likes to see buggy whips at the top but a lot of those bolls weren’t going to make it into the picker, so it’s hard to justify spending any more money in that late cotton.


“Soybean loopers started building in soybeans but are now crashing through much of the state for a variety of reasons. For starters, we have one of the best beneficial insect populations I’ve ever seen, with high numbers of predatory stink bugs. Plus, we’re detecting the looper virus in a lot of fields.


“Stink bugs are about the only pest that would still matter in soybeans and we’re seeing pretty good levels in places. Everyone needs to be scouting for stink bugs in late R5 beans, which seems to be the point when stink bugs really move into soybeans. A lot of people are picking up one per sweep or a little over that.”


Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

“Except for any really late cotton, this crop is pretty much over as far as pests go. Someone said he had smelled defoliant, so I suspect that a couple of fields have been defoliated in August, which is unusual in Tennessee. I’ve seen a few fields that I would have defoliated if they were mine. Again, that’s a rarity here at this point in the year.


“Soybeans are mostly quiet. You can find green cloverworms, bean leaf beetles and stink bugs in places and some treatments are going out, but that’s about it. We do have some late beans and we need to keep scouting those. People tend to get distracted with corn harvest and preparing for cotton picking, so late soybean scouting gets a low priority. There are still reasons to check those fields.


“People are making a pretty good start with corn harvest but the vast majority of the crop is still ahead of us. The crop looks solid and I’m hearing about some 200 bu/acre averages, both in plots and from feedback from farmers.”


Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:

“We’re right in the middle of defoliation. Some started 6 or 7 days ago (from 8/28) and it’s moving fast now. In another 12 days, my growers will be through with defoliation, I expect.


“Some picking will likely start Monday (9/3) and I can’t wait! This crop is finishing early, it looks pretty good and I’m anxious to see how it finishes out. We’re 7 days or more ahead of average. Usually, we start picking cotton around September 10.


“We’re also desiccating soybeans as fast as we can. We’re 60% desiccated and 35% of our beans have been harvested. Where we’ve harvested beans, some dryland fields only managed 27 bu/acre where they were planted early and went through a pretty bad stretch of dry weather. I’ve also heard of one dryland yield as high as 93 bu/acre. A lot of dryland beans are running around 50.


“We’re just getting into irrigated acreage. So far, they’re at 70-plus bu/acre, with monitors showing spots at 85 to 92 in some fields.



“A few people are still cutting corn. Some dryland was as low as 60 bu/acre, but in places it was up to 230. Irrigated corn has been bumping along at 200 to 210. Everything is wrapping up quickly. In another 10 days, I’ll only be checking about 2% of my acres and that will be it.”


David Skinner, Agronomist, CPS, Macon, Mississippi:

“We’ll start some defoliation on Friday (8/31) in both dryland and irrigated cotton. This is some of the first cotton planted. More cotton is ready but growers are still tied up with corn harvest. They’ll go right out of corn harvest this year and into cotton picking, as things look now (8/28).


“Just about all of our cotton has bloomed out the top. I’m not seeing many stink bugs but plant bugs came back late in the year. I don’t think they’re hitting anything we will pick, so I’m not spraying. Overall, we’re starting defoliation about 2 weeks earlier than average. Typically, the first spray goes out around September 10-15. This year, we’ll be picking cotton in September.


“Corn yields are good. Irrigated corn is averaging pretty far north of 200 bu/acre. Where dryland corn got rain, it’s averaging 180 to 200. Where corn missed a lot of those showers, it’s going 150 to 160.”


Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

“Cotton is starting to open and I can find cracked bolls in about 80% of the cotton I work. This crop is still running ahead and the high today (8/27) was 92, and that will help move things along.


“We’ll probably need some rain to finish out the top bolls. We received about 3 inches this month but none in the last 10 days, so one more rain should do it.


“We made a plant bug and stink bug treatment at the end of July. That seemed to be well timed and we haven’t had to come back since then. Corn is still running 20%-plus moisture and this dry, hot weather should help finish it out. Some late MGIIIs planted early could be harvested at the end of this week. We’re still keeping an eye on the wheat beans for any insect activity.”


Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi:

“We treated 150 acres of late cotton last week and another 150 acres of late cotton this week. As far as insects go, everything else is pretty much done.


“A little defoliation will go out this week. By next week, more bolls will definitely be open. Where we are defoliating, these are just a few starter fields. We did suffer a lot of boll rot from last week’s rain. It hasn’t seemed to hurt us yet on a widescale basis but did develop in places where cotton was a little farther along.



“In soybeans, we’re desiccating and harvesting as quickly as they’ll let us. I’m still checking maybe 1,000 acres of late beans and will continue checking those fields over the next couple of weeks. We’re treating some today (8/27) for a smorgasbord of insects.


“Corn that’s been standing under pivots has been pretty good and some dryland corn has been surprisingly better than we thought it would be. In places with the right soil types, it’s done as well as irrigated corn.”


Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri:

“Cotton is pretty much done and probably 95% of my fields have open bolls. We’re probably 7 to 10 days ahead of a normal schedule as far as crop development goes. I don’t ever remember being through with cotton this early.


“I’m going a bit out on a limb, but we could see some defoliation start in 10 days (from 8/27) and certainly by the end of next week.


“All the rains 10 days ago didn’t do cotton a lot of good. Depending on the location, totals ranged from 5 to 12 inches, most of it falling in a matter of 24 hours. A little boll rot started and I found limbs on the ground.


“Any pest pressure in soybeans is very light. A few bollworms and stink bugs are out there and some mix of bean leaf beetles, three-cornered alfalfa hoppers and things like that. We’ve sprayed very few soybean fields this year. Corn harvest is just starting.”


David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

“We started defoliating cotton yesterday (8/26) and a little more went out today. I’m not talking about a drastic amount yet, maybe 1,000 acres today. Most of it was dryland cotton but some irrigated acreage is being defoliated, too. This is happening way earlier than normal, maybe by a couple of weeks.


“We had a pretty good surge of worms in greener cotton over the last 14 days or so but that’s pretty much over now.


“Rains last week varied widely by location, from 2 inches to 10 inches. Where 10 inches fell, I think that hurt rice and soybeans more than cotton. Some whole fields of rice and soybeans in the area went completely under water. My growers weren’t affected much by that but the flooding probably ruined a lot of beans and triggered sprouting in some rice. The rain probably helped some beans and late cotton.


“We’ve pretty much wound up irrigation and insect applications in cotton. We treated a couple of fields yesterday for an assortment of insects and that should be it in cotton. We’re still dealing with insects in peanuts and late soybeans. We’ve had a pretty good run of stink bugs in beans and rice.


“People have started cutting corn. This seems to be at least an average corn crop. The numbers I’m hearing are 200 to 220 bu/acre.”


Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

“Cotton is winding down very quickly. A few calls are still filtering in about spider mites trying to break out and about plant bugs on June-planted cotton. These are the exceptions rather than the rule in terms of pests this week. I’m hearing about defoliation starting in places.


“In soybeans, we had a pretty good run of soybean loopers 2 or 3 weeks ago. What needed to be sprayed was sprayed. But a lot of the looper virus is around now, even though we haven’t had the lower temperatures that tend to bring it on. Populations crashed enough that we’re having trouble finding places to put in looper trials. Loopers tend to move north and it’s difficult to say how much the virus will move with them.


“A lot of stink bugs – both green and brown – are moving into soybeans that are approaching R6. Whether to spray is a field-by-field decision. As long as you’re not dealing with redbanded stink bugs, you can double the threshold and quit spraying at R6.5. You shouldn’t see any damage at the elevator. Again, that’s in the absence of redbanded stink bugs.


“Whether to pull back and not spray depends in part on how adverse a grower is to risk. Rain is in the forecast this weekend, which may prompt some farmers to treat. Keep in mind, too, that those late soybeans are like a magnet as fields around them mature and cutting starts. If you’ve got some of those last fields, take that into account when deciding whether to treat.”


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