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Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L. Ferguson, AgFax Media Managing Editor
Owen Taylor, AgFax Editorial Director


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Here is this week's issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton, a weekly crop and pest advisory. Thanks to our sponsor, the Southwest field staff of FMC Corporation. 


Here's what we'll be bringing you:

Larry Stalcup, a seasoned ag journalist and editor based in Amarillo, will research, write and edit each issue. He’s backed by our staff at AgFax Media LLC. For the last 23 years we've been publishing advisories covering cotton, peanuts, rice and grain crops across 14 Sunbelt states.


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Owen Taylor and
Debra L. Ferguson
AgFax Media LLC




“Most farmers have one hand on the tractor and one eye on the weather,” says Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale and Swisher Co., Texas, describing the anxiousness of Texas Panhandle-South Plains growers eager to finally plant following an unseasonably cold spring.


Oklahoma and Kansas farmers are also waiting on warmer weather to plant, while Central and South Texas growers are struggling for heat units to push plants past the cotyledon stage.


Spraying for thrips is under way in South Texas and will likely begin soon in the Coastal Bend.


Scattered showers blessed Eastern New Mexico and Northwest Texas and Oklahoma areas Monday, but totals weren’t enough to dent drought conditions. Potential thundershowers were projected over parts of Texas and Oklahoma on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


Substantial rainfall is needed throughout the region, notes Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, adding, “Dry conditions are starting to weigh on some farmers’ optimism.”


Correction: In last week’s issue, we mistakenly identified Mark Nemec as Mike Nemec.



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  • May be tank mixed with products approved for use on cotton

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Stew Duncan, Kansas State University NE Area Crops and Soils Specialist, Manhattan, Kansas, with southern cotton responsibilities: “We’re wet and we’re cool. Farmers have learned their lesson from before and know we have time to plant. The southern tier counties, where we grow cotton, can plant up to June 5 to June 10 and have a decent crop if everything goes right.


 “Altitude in southwest Kansas comes into play in planting late. But there is a potential to pick up a few more cotton acres overall. Cotton is a good shift from corn and it’s getting kind of late for corn. Even corn doesn’t like 38 degrees.”


Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultant, Uvalde, Texas: “We’re probably 95% planted and finally getting a little bit to grow. Most is 2- to 3-leaf, at cotyledon on up.  Normally we would be close to pinhead square by now. We had to replant quite a bit. Overall, we are going to be pretty late.


“Thrips pressure has been heavy. We usually see that big influx when wheat dries down so it’s not unusual.  We’ve already made thrips treatments on most of the cotton. A lot of guys ran Orthene or dimethoate.  We’re still extremely dry. Some spots had an inch last week but that didn’t go too far. I haven’t seen any aphids on cotton or vegetables.”


Ryan Roberts, Ryan Roberts Crop Consulting Inc., Clovis, New Mexico, serving Eastern New Mexico, Southwest Texas Panhandle/Texas South Plains: “We’re still monitoring soil temperatures, but feel we can start planting this week. Before the last cold spell (5-1 through 5-3), I measured down 3 inches at 2 p.m. near Muleshoe, Texas. It was 75 degrees. We might be pushing it some, but I think things are ready to go.


“We start planting first where we have the better water to push for those high 4-bale yields. With the good varieties farmers have, some are even pushing for 5 bales.”


Mark Kelley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialists, Lubbock, Texas: “Right now we’re still watching those soil temps really close.  We want that soil temp to be 65 degrees and have a good warm-weather forecast for a while. Cool soil temps don’t bode well for getting a good stand established. Some guys we have variety trials with hope to get some planted next week.


“Farmers having to irrigate cotton up are watching out for cold water.  In 2011, some growers watered cotton up when water was cold. As a result they saw some seedling disease. 


“It’s kind of a mixed bag for dryland. Some folks are getting seed in the ground and some are waiting on what hopefully will be a good rainfall event. And hopefully we won’t have another one of those late freezes.”


Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus, Oklahoma: “We really need to get things going. It has been too cool and we really need some rain.  Our optimum planting time is about May 10 – and we’re almost there. We’re supposed to see another cool spell, but we are a darn-site better than we were last week when we had more freezing temperatures.


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“As far as seed treatments go, we see more guys just loading up with insecticide treatments. The base fungicide package is pretty good for our area. We don’t have a lot of nematode problems so farmers don’t use a nematicide treatment.”


Marty Jungman, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill Co., northern McLennan Co., Texas: “We’re probably 98% planted and have 85% to 90% up to stand. A lot of our cotton is at cotyledon, the 2- to 3-leaf stage. But some still needs a rain to really get it up. Some cotton was roughed up by cold weather and wind. But it looks like it’s going to be all right with warmer weather.


“Some fields had early aphid problems and required spraying. Our wheat is drying down and we’re just now starting to pick up some thrips numbers. But they aren’t heavy.”


Mark Hatley, Crop Question consulting, Dumas, Texas: “We’re just in slow motion right now after the cold weather. Nothing much is happening yet with cotton. We’re getting some corn planted but it’s slow coming up. I think it will be next week before we start getting any cotton planted.”


Clyde Crumley, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Wharton Co., Texas: “We’re still pretty cool, sort of in neutral.  Some of our oldest fields are starting to square-up and we’re finally getting some heat units. But it takes a while for days to heat up after 50-degree temperatures in the mornings.


“We’re starting to see quite a few thrips. Many fields are at threshold, which normally is one thrip per true leaf. When we get five to six leaves we feel like we’re out of danger. But remember, at 21 days after planting we lose our seed insecticide. It may require spraying for thrips. We’ve had the cold and wind already. My advice is don’t let thrips put you further behind.


“Also, when we start warming up and the crop starts fruiting, cotton flea hoppers are traditionally just around the bend. Farmers need to watch for flea hoppers. They are perennial pests.”


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Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale and Swisher Co., Texas: “Most farmers have one hand on the tractor and one eye on the weather. They’re ready to plant. We’ll finally see guys headed to the field this week. By mid- to late-week, most farmers will have something in the ground. But we’re still in a drought and really need some moisture.”


Scott Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Terry and Yoakum Co., Texas: “Guys are trying to start planting this week as soil temperatures increase. Last week the temperature dropped to the mid- to upper-40s at the 2-inch depth. At 4 and 8 inches it was 62 to 65 degrees. So I expect a lot of growers to start heavy by Wednesday (5-8).


“Before they plant, I encourage them to have a complete seed treatment, with a fungicide, insecticide and nematicide for that seed. There are still a few who go with a more limited seed treatment. But with cool soils and marginal forecasts, a complete treatment pays.


“Be aware that wheat is still out there, even if much of it is marginal (after the heavy freezes). Growers need to watch for potential thrips invasions as cotton starts to emerge. Even with a seed treatment, thrips can overwhelm and outlast seed-applied insecticide. In depends on the insecticide, but the treatment has an effective range of about 18 to 20 days. It also depends on irrigation applied and rainfall that’s received.”


Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, College Station, Texas: “Cotton is really not growing off the way we want it to.  This cool weather has kept things growing really slow since last Wednesday (5-1). That leads to more susceptibility to insect issues.


“Some are still replanting due to the cool weather. There has been some good rainfall in the Abilene area. But much of the Rolling Plains is still dry. I was in the Spur and Matador area last week. Dry conditions are starting to weigh on some farmers’ optimism.”


Rick Minzenmayer, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension entomologist, Ballinger, Texas: “We remain very dry and we’re waiting on rain, so we’re actually hoping it’s too wet to start planting next week. Our irrigated guys have nearly all pre-watered. But everyone is wanting more rainfall before we get started.


“Our corn has been bitten with frost, but is coming out of it. We will start combining wheat about May 20. Fortunately we didn’t see a lot of wheat freeze damage. Some fields were disastered-out due to drought. But there could still be thrips pressure. Most guys who plant cotton early utilize seed treatments. So that helps us out as far as thrips are concerned.”





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