Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L. Ferguson,
AgFax Media Managing Editor

Owen Taylor, AgFax Editorial Director 



Special thanks to PhytoGen, the exclusive sponsor of AgFax Southwest Cotton.




Cotton growers are dodging showers across parts of the Panhandle and South Plains as they rush to get irrigated fields planted. Cool temps in the 60s and low 70s are anticipated for Thursday (5/11), and could impact planting conditions.


Early herbicide management continues to be a hot topic, especially the use of timely pre- and post-emergence applications. Tyler Mays, Texas Agrilife IPM agent, breaks down the flag identification colors for the different technologies. Resistant pigweed in south Texas has grower attention as glyphosate applications fail.


Fleahoppers are on the radar in the Upper Gulf Coast and south Texas, where many plants are squaring. Aphids are also apparent. Thrips pressure has eased farther south, but still in the picture for central Texas. Wireworms are a worry in sandy soils recently planted in small grains. A surprisingly early bollworm egg lay in coastal fields could predict later problems.


Oklahoma planting is off and running, and Kansas could see planters in the field any day. Southern New Mexico needs a rain. Arizona growers hope rain moves in from California.


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We're always expanding our list of crop consultants, dealer personnel and Extension advisors who provide the reports for AgFax Southwest Cotton. If you would like to join our contact list, just email me at: or call me, Larry Stalcup, at 806-671-1446.




Wayne Keeling, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Weed Specialist, Lubbock: “It has been cool and planting is slow. But if we get rains in the next few days along with the forecast for a warm up, a lot of ground will be planted later in the week.


“Everyone is talking about the new herbicide technologies, and we see how they can help our weed control program. But growers shouldn’t depend on them alone. Use them with residual herbicides to help keep fields clean.


“Most conventional tilled ground looks clean and no-till fields have seen some timely herbicide applications. Many of this area’s farmers know that if they don’t have resistant pigweed, they eventually will, so they have to deal with it accordingly. It’s important that we get weeds when they are small.”


John Idowu, New Mexico State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Las Cruces: “In southern New Mexico, most cotton was planted 2 to 3 weeks ago. Some plants are already out of the ground. Cool nights were a struggle early, but temperatures have warmed up. However, in the eastern part of the state, cool nights remain an issue for early planted cotton and some farmers are still waiting to get into the field. There are no disease or insects to report thus far.


“We have been very dry down here. Early irrigation has been from farmer wells. We learned Monday (5/8) that the initial 12-inch irrigation allotment from Elephant Butte Lake begins May 15.”


Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “A lot of guys are waiting to see what happens mid-week before they start planting. There’s still a chance of rain. The folks who started planting last week most likely have a lot of ground to cover. They’re having to balance between getting some fields planted too early and some too late.


“For farmers who are more selective, especially on dryland, they may be waiting to see what the potential for rain brings. You can’t put a value on planting into moisture, but you don’t want to chase it down too deep.


“Herbicide management at pre-plant and after planting remains critical. The new chemistries are not silver bullets. They are not like Roundup was early on. Dicamba and 2,4-D have been used 50 years or longer and can certainly be good tools within our weed management programs. We just have to start clean with the use of yellow and residual herbicides. You can’t miss part of the weed management system. The new chemistries are an improvement to the system, but that doesn’t change the objective of an overall herbicide program.


“Also, folks should be aware early on that what appears to be possible plant damage from drift is not what they may end up with. We don’t want to see herbicide drift cause damage to neighboring crops. But if there are cases of drift, let’s not jump the gun on damage to the overall crop.”


Rex Brandon, Crop Production Services, Dumas, Texas: “We have excellent moisture and warmer temperatures, so some guys started planting Saturday (5/6) and have been in the field ever since. At the 2-inch depth soil temps are 60 degrees. But the forecast for rain and cooler weather has scared a few people off for a few days.


“In the Panhandle we have a tight window. When it’s time for cotton to go in the ground, corn planting stops and cotton starts. I think we’ll see 30% more cotton acres than last year. A lot of pres went down early to help hold back weeds. That has helped. Also, a lot of new technology is being used. Well over 70% of our cotton will be dicamba.” 



Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan: “We may have some guys try to sneak in some cotton this week, even though we could see some rain. Those with fields under irrigation will plant early and water it up if needed, but most don’t want to start until mid-May. With our increase in acres, we may see more cotton planted earlier.


“The new Enlist Duo varieties have really been popular considering the drift problems we’ve had with 2,4-D. The further east you go, you’ll see more Xtendflex with dicamba technology sneaking in where they’re planting soybeans. The new technologies make it essential that we have good communications with neighbors as to which of these new chemistries are being used.


“Corn got some heat over the weekend after it was planted before the cool snap. We hope to finish planting corn soon. West of Hays, the wheat really got hammered in the winter storm. In the central corridor wheat looks decent, but diseases are showing up. We’re seeing more stripe rust and leaf rust is starting to pop. Wheat streak mosaic is at above average levels in west and central Kansas.”


Jason Woodward, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Plant Pathologist (Cotton & Peanuts), Lubbock: “With cool and potentially damp conditions at planting time, growers need to watch for seedling diseases, particularly rhizoctonia and pythium. Soil temperatures are still not ideal for planting, but guys have to go. If they have to irrigate the crop up, it could increase the risk of seedling disease.


“Cooler temperatures are forecast for this week, meaning growers need to be mindful of where they have had disease problems in the past and make decisions accordingly with variety selection.”


Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “We’re planting up a storm. I’m in a tractor cab this morning (5/9) planting south of Altus. We’re looking pretty good and some irrigated guys have half their crop already planted. We have a good situation, even though there is a strong chance of storms that could slow us down.


“Dryland growers will likely hold off, especially if they also have irrigated fields. We typically plant a lot of dryland toward the end of May. There are still a lot of options for planting no-till into wheat. Due to low wheat prices and cattle graze-out, there are a lot of terminated wheat fields in the southwestern corner of the state.


“For weed control, a lot of guys are running herbicides behind the planter. They’re making progress in trying to manage resistant pigweed.”


Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Terry, Yoakum and Gaines Counties: “A few people are planting now but a lot more are waiting to see if this low pressure system brings rainfall later this week. Fields are looking good and clean. Guys have done a good job of early season weed control.


“I think our flag technology is working well to identify the types of herbicide technology being used in separate fields. Xtendflex flags are black and white checkerboard.  Enlist flags are teal with white vertical stripes. Other flags include green for glufosinate, white for glyphosate and red for conventional cotton and sensitive crops such as grapes. The potential for herbicide drift into regional grape fields is a concern.


“As we start seeing solid growth of cotton, we may see some thrips move in from wheat and other small grains being cut for baling. Growers need to look out for wireworm damage in sandy soil areas where we’ve had small grains in the past. When we get planted, they will need to watch for seedling disease in rhizoctonia or pythium.”



Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “They’re predicting a 40% chance of rain on Wednesday. It probably won’t amount to much, but we’ll take it. Most of the cotton is in and up. Things will cool down this week but not enough to hurt plants. We’ll be back into the 90s later in the week.


“I’m still not aware of any issues with thrips or other insects. I’ve talked with several consultants and things remain quiet.


“The wheat crop is finishing up. It’s all durum and we’ll start cutting next week. We’ll see some cotton double-cropped after that in some areas.”


Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas: “We’re running a little late in parts of south Texas. It was too wet early on. We’re dry now with lots of wind. We’ve had a few fields blown out and that’s forcing some farmers to replant.


“Cotton that wasn’t blown out looks good. The majority is at the 2-leaf stage. We had thrips move in from wheat fields last week. They’re on the downswing now, but we’re seeing a strong outbreak of fleahoppers in older fields. We’re monitoring that closely.


“Resistant pigweed is really giving some farmers problems. Some guys have made 3 applications of Roundup and there is still pigweed. Resistance is showing up everywhere. A lot of guys are trying new dicamba varieties to see if that technology fits into their cotton program.


“Our sweet corn harvest is in full swing and the crop is looking good. We were able to start 2 weeks early.”


Clyde Crumley, Crumley Agricultural Consulting, El Campo, Texas: “Weather has been our biggest problem. Early rain slowed planting, but it set us up for a decent crop. About two-thirds of fields are squaring. Overall the crop ranges from just emerging to match-head square. However, dry weather the past 2 weeks and high wind have hurt some plants. Despite that, we have a good fruit set.


“With the squaring comes fleahoppers. We’re seeing good success with insecticide treatments and we’re knocking them back. There are also a few aphids, hit or miss. If we play our chemistries right, we can take out fleahoppers and aphids at the same time. We’ve also seen something out of the ordinary. We had a bollworm egg lay 2 weeks ago, which is very early. They didn’t develop, but could see a worm outbreak later on.


“We’ve dealt with weeds from the beginning. Many guys did a good job with their pres, but we’re still seeing weed problems. That’s partially due to limitations on spraying caused by high winds. I’m seeing good results from the new herbicide chemistries. The new products are living up to how they were advertised.


“Our corn looked fantastic until this dry spell. We haven’t had more than an inch of rain in the past 2 weeks. Some corn is starting to coil up. It’s tasseling and water is critical. Guys with irrigation started watering last week. We don’t have much sorghum, but what we have is at the pre-boot stage. There are a few reports of sugarcane aphid. We may see some of them move pretty quickly with it being this dry.”


Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “We’ve turned off fairly dry in the southern Blacklands. Some guys with irrigation are already watering in the Brazos Bottom. Overall, the crop looks good. Early season stress may actually be good for these plants. It can help get them acclimated and put down a good root system for the remainder of the year.


“Earlier planted cotton is approaching the fleahopper stage, but I haven’t heard of any major pressure. With cotton really emerging in the Blacklands, growers need to look closely for thrips, even though thrips pressure has been low so far.


“There are more acres in northeast Texas this year and a lot is being planted this week.”


©Debra L Ferguson

 Stock Photography


AgFax News Links

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Texas Cotton: How Tolerant Are New Varieties to Liberty Applications? 5-8


Texas Upper Coast IPM: Fleahoppers and Sugarcane Aphids Active 5-8


Texas Mid-Coast Cotton: Keep Watch for Fleahoppers 5-8


Texas Mid-Coast Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphid Numbers Low - Keep Scouting 5-8


Kansas Wheat: New Kansas State Variety Works on Dryland 5-9


Texas: Wheat Field Day, Bushland, May 17 


Kansas: Spring Crops Field Day, Parsons, May 23 


Texas: Advanced Grape Grower Workshop, Fredericksburg, June 19-20 




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AgFax Southwest Cotton is published and distributed by AgFax Media, LLC. AgFax Media crop newsletters include: AgFax Midsouth Cotton; AgFax Southeast Cotton; AgFax Southwest Cotton; AgFax Peanuts; AgFax Rice; AgFax Southern Grain; AgFax West, AgFax Almonds, AgFax Updates. Owen Taylor, Editorial Director, and Debra L. Ferguson, Agfax Managing Editor, AgFax Media LLC, 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047,, Office: 601-992-9488. ©2017AgFax Media, LLC.

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