Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L. Ferguson, AgFax Media Managing Editor
Owen Taylor, AgFax Editorial Director
Here is this week's issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton, sponsored by PhytoGen.
First reported cotton bale last week in Harlingen. See details in our News Links below.
It's definitely insect season. Fleahoppers are hitting thresholds in West Texas, the Panhandle and Kansas. Tarnished plant bugs, stinkbugs, spider mites and bollworms are making the sprayers roll in many areas.
Still time to hit the weed escapes in some of this late cotton. Warning: 'hoes or hoods' may be looming large in your rearview mirror. Resistant pigweed continues to pop up – darn zombies.
PGRs are going out. “It’s like trying to manage two crops on the same plant,” says Wharton County consultant DeWayne Dopslauf, citing a multitude of plant growth patterns.
Kansas fields, many with a late start, are showing 10 squares. Oklahoma and New Mexico are seeing solid growth, but could use a “little cotton shower” like IPM Agent Kerry Siders was hoping for this week west of Lubbock.
Sugarcane aphids remain a threat to sorghum, from the Lower Rio Grande Valley to the southern Panhandle. See 3 sugarcane aphid reports in our News Links below.
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David Drake, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, San Angelo/Far West Texas: “Our cotton looks good due to good growing conditions lately. Some is a little late because it was so wet in May and June. We’re just into squaring.
“We haven’t seen any insect pressure or had reports of heavy insect damage. But farmers need to be scouting for fleahoppers. I haven’t seen any root rot, but the plants don’t have a good load on them yet. We’ll see how the crop fairs with the hot weather in the forecast this week.”
Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “We need to make sure the irrigated crop gets watered with these high temperatures and quite a bit of wind. We have a chance of rain early this week, and it's needed in dryland areas that missed last week's showers. Late May planted fields should be blooming by the end of the week.
“Some growers are treating for fleahoppers, but overall we’re not seeing any major insect problems. We’re continuing to watch for grasshoppers farther west.
“Guys are still spraying herbicides to hold back weeds. If folks are planning on running Liberty, the quicker they can get it applied, the better. Herbicide programs are not cheap, but they save a lot of added problems like needing hoe hands.”
Mark Kelley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We have excellent cotton growing weather, but we’re still 2 to 4 weeks behind. If we can keep the insects back, take care of weed escapes and take our first set fruit to the gin, we can still make a crop. Everything has to be done just right from here on out. We can’t afford to lose anything to lygus, fleahoppers or plant bugs.
“Weed escapes are causing problems for those who did not apply a residual, or their residual played out. They may need hoe hands or post directed herbicide application. It’s not as bad as we saw last year, but there are still problems.
“Farmers need to judge when to apply PGR and at what rates. If the top 5 internodes are 1.2 to 1.5 inches in length, farmers may need to consider 4 to 8 oz. of PGR. If they are 1.8” or better, we’re looking at significant growth and higher rates may be warranted.”
Cameron McAnally, Crop Quest Consulting, Morse, Texas, Northern Panhandle: “It’s looking good after the recent rains and heat – good cotton growing weather. We’re at early square to first square. I hope to see some blooms late this week. Overall, it’s about a week behind last year and 10 to 12 days behind normal.
“Moderate fleahopper pressure has been seen. We’ve sprayed at least once and we’re on the downhill side. I’ve had quite a few worm species in other crops, but none in cotton. Weeds are under control where we went with Valor and other pre emerge herbicides. We’re staying pretty clean, but farmers, who just sprayed a burndown at planting, are seeing some resistant pigweed."
Dana Palmer, Independent Crop Consultant, Lubbock and Texas South Plains: “Around Levelland, surprisingly, I’m looking at a very good square set. But there have been some losses due to fleahoppers. In Terry County, cotton is looking good. We’ve been pretty aggressive with insect control. We ran Vydate on older cotton. I’m glad we sprayed because we were losing squares to fleahoppers and lygus. Those fields are all blooming.
“In sandier soils where weed hosts for insects die out faster, we’ve been treating quite a bit of cotton with generic Imidacloprid. We can preserve beneficials and still control fleahoppers. Weeds are dying faster in pastures with the high temperatures, so we really have to watch for fleahoppers leaving there and looking for a home.
“North of Lubbock, we’ve done a lot of edge spraying for grasshoppers. It’s going to be ugly up there when pastures dry up. But a rain will calm things down.”
DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, Wharton, Texas: “Overall, the crop looks okay. We’re starting to bloom up in the top, but plants have many variables. We lost some fruit in the heavy rain, so we’re trying to re-fruit it to fill in the gaps.
“I’m finding bolls on the bottom, nothing in the middle and square on the top. It’s like trying to manage 2 crops on the same plant. We’re putting out PGRs on irrigated cotton but it’s so hot that the dryland has virtually stopped growing. There are different situations for different varieties.
“I’m spraying for stinkbugs. They’re migrating in from corn and milo around us. Overall, I think it will be an okay crop. We’re looking at an average year in yields, but a little less than last year. It’s hard to say now because of the many variables.”
John Idowu, New Mexico State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Las Cruces: “In the Tucumcari area in eastern New Mexico, cotton is looking good, but there are some skippy stands. Weeds are a problem for some fields up there.
“Last week, hail was hard on cotton around Deming. In some fields, all the plants looked like skeletons with no leaves at all.
“Hot weather is forecast for the next couple of days. The monsoon stopped before it reached us this round. But overall, our plants are looking good.”
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Marty Jungman, Independent Crop Consultant, West, Texas/Blacklands: “Much of our cotton is bolled-up about half way up the stalk. It’s anywhere from 2 to 4 NAWF. Some late cotton is just now at pinhead square. It will need rain soon to make a crop.
“We’re watching for spider mites moving out of corn and into cotton. There have been some miticide applications. We’ve had to treat for bollworm in a few fields that had Bt technology. But mostly, we’re in good shape where varieties have the Bollgard or WideStrike technology. There are a few stinkbugs around, but crops are maturing and shouldn’t need treatment.
“There is some shedding and we could use a rain. But even without a rain, the older cotton should have a shot for a good crop. Weed control is pretty much wrapped up. We had some pigweed and waterhemp that got by, but most fields are in good shape.
“We’re closely watching our sorghum. Sugarcane aphids have really picked up in the past 10 to 12 days.”
Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: “Fleahopper have been quite common, along with tarnished plant bugs. There is also a small green stinkbug that has been showing up a lot more often than I’d like – probably coming out of the corn. We’ve been putting on either dimethoate or acephate insecticides to control them. We’re also putting on PGR.
“We’re seeing more resistant pigweed and we’re having to treat it with Liberty. A high percentage of our varieties are Liberty tolerant. But for other fields, I’m afraid we’ll have to use some ‘old tech’ weed control – hoes or hoods – to take care of them.
“Overall, the crop is really pretty. Some rain has kept fields from stressing in the afternoon. Some fields have 10-plus squares per plant, while some of the later fields have very few squares. Hopefully, the heat will help the crop catch up.”
Danielle Sekula Ortiz, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Weslaco/Lower Rio Grande Valley: “Our first bale has been harvested, but the majority of the dryland crop is a week or 2 away from harvest and the irrigated still has a ways to go. With the heavy rains and cooler, cloudy weather earlier, about 75% of the cotton got away from the growers. The plants look too tall.
“We’re past the stage where we need to spray cotton for insects. A lot is cutting out and bolls are too big for damage. Sugarcane aphids are still a problem in sorghum, but not as bad this year, because there wasn’t intense heat and aphids didn’t reproduce as quickly. Predators in the fields helped keep aphids in check.
“However, there have more aphids in the last few weeks due to increased heat. Growers have been forced to make late season applications in some fields. We have a second shot of sorghum coming through that will be booting soon. Once it heads, it will be interesting to see if sugarcane aphid pressure increases.”
Nice cotton rows near the Top of Texas Gin at Dawn, Texas. - Larry Stalcup
Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Tucson: “Our monsoon flooding was pretty significant. I have visited with several growers in the western part of the state and we are not aware of any major flooding associated with storms over the past few days."
“The crop is still progressing nicely. About 75 to 85% is heading into mid bloom or peak bloom for both Pima and upland varieties. They are similar in what they need in heat units.
“There’s still no significant insect pressure. There have been some reports of stinkbugs in far western Arizona, but I haven’t heard of anyone treating for them.
“Some fields still have some rust in east central and eastern Arizona. There have been fungicide treatments made, mostly Quadris, some generics and a little Headline. Some cotton on the experiment station has rust but I’m not sure if I’m going to treat it. We’ve been dry the last 4 to 5 days, which may reduce rust pressure.”
Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent Hockley and Cochran Counties: “Insects are starting to pick up. We’re seeing more fleahoppers and Lygus plant bug activity. Some cotton is getting far enough along that fleahoppers aren’t as much of a concern. We’re getting close to bloom and have about an 85% square retention on most cotton. But some squares have dropped due to fleahopper and lygus.
“Weeds are drying down, but as these alternate host plants play out, insects will move in mass into cotton. So we’re checking diligently for plant bugs. They can damage squares and continue to damage bolls. We’re treating a few fields for plant bugs in Hockley and Cochran counties.
“Hopefully we’ll be at 50% bloom by the end of this week. The remainder of the cotton should bloom by the end of July and first week of August. There are scattered storms to the west of us. We could use a good rain and hopefully we’ll receive a little cotton shower tonight (7-20). ”
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