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.
Fleahoppers and thrips are on the radar in the Upper Coast and Lower Rio Grande Valley where dry weather is giving irrigation systems a workout. Beneficials are helping control the bugs, and a Section 18 for Transform is also lending a hand.
Glyphosate resistance has growers using a combination of herbicide chemistries in parts of southwestern Oklahoma and the northern Rolling Plains of Texas.
Blooming in the Coastal Bend is a good sign as farmers fight dry weather. Squaring has started in the southern Blacklands.
South Plains growers are into heavy planting as soil temps warm up.
Southern Kansas has a whole new crop of first time cotton growers hoping for a better payout.
Got a field day coming up? Send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 806-671-1446.
Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We’re set for what hopefully is a good start to the season. We’re seeing quite a bit of planting this week. With the moisture last week, a few showers over the weekend and warmer temperatures, planting conditions are fairly good.
“Fields planted last week may not have received the early heat units farmers wanted due to cool nights. But with this week’s warmer weather, things should pick back up. We have the potential for good early season growth, rapid emergence and good vigor.
“The fields I’ve seen this week continue to look pretty clean. We haven’t had an early horseweed problems like we saw last year. Guys are using a combination of different tillage, a good burn down and residual herbicides to obtain good early season control. Our mild winter likely helped hold down weed pressure.”
Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “We can’t decide whether or not it’s summer. We’re headed into another cool spell. It’s 70 degrees in Casa Grande right now (5/16 morning), but we should be back in the 100s by the weekend. I haven’t seen a huge impact on the crop, but it slows everything down.
“In the Yuma area some plants have started to flower, but the vast majority in the central and southeastern parts of the state is still in the pre-square stage. There are just a few pockets of fruiting plants. We’ve had a few replants due to high winds that sandblasted some seedlings.”
Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County: “We completed planting about 10 days ago in our area south of San Antonio. The majority of the crop is up. I drove around our cotton fields late last week (5/12) and everything looked pretty clean, with no major weed outbreaks. I’m hearing no reports of thrips thus far.
“Everything is under irrigation, but we could still use a rain. We hit 104 degrees on Saturday (5/13)so all of our crops could use the moisture.
“Corn looks good and we just finished harvesting wheat. We’re in the middle of potato and sweet corn harvest and our sorghum is heading out. No one is reporting any sugarcane aphid, but farmers are really watching for them.”
Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo: “A lot of cotton has been planted in the Panhandle in the past week. We got 2 of our trials planted the last few days. However, soil temperatures remain pretty cool, so guys are ready for a warm up this week.
“In the northern Panhandle, a lot of cotton is going into no-till ground. Farmers are doing a good job of managing cover crops and residue to help minimize evaporative losses. Fields are mostly clean of any weed pressure. Overall, it’s exciting to hear of the large amount of cotton to be planted in this region.”
Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County, Portales: “We had quite a bit of cotton planted just ahead of that cool, wet weather system we had early last week. When it warmed up, the ground was crusted over and many farmers had to run rod weeders to crack the surface. Some of that cotton should be up by now.
“There is more interest in cotton this year because our county’s sorghum production got annihilated by the sugarcane aphid last year. We’re historically milo country and that took the wind out of everyone’s sail. Folks were looking for more consistent options than what milo offered and many went with cotton.
“Our forage crops have looked good. A lot of wheat was grazed out, a fair amount was bagged up for silage and some was put up for hay. There are still a number of acres that will be combined.”
DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, Wharton, Texas: “It’s getting warm and the south wind is starting to dry out everything. Those farmers with irrigation are watering fields. Our cotton is shaping up and we’re putting on a good fruit set. We’re from the 2-leaf stage up to match-head square. We’re all monitoring varieties with the new technologies closely. It’s a learning experience.
“We’ve started spraying for fleahoppers. We’re also treating for thrips that have moved into cotton from grass drying up on side roads.
“Our corn looks good and is tasseling. Along with irrigation, we’re putting out fungicide to help manage disease. Some soybeans are just being planted in the region.”
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “Things look good in the Coastal Bend, although it’s a little dry. Some cotton is starting to bloom. In the Brazos Bottom, fields are progressing and some guys started irrigating last week. The early stuff is starting to square. I haven’t heard of any major pest pressure.
“The Waco area caught a little rain and some minimal hail damage. Cotton has been growing a little slow due to cooler temps.”
Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: “We’ve just started planting in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. Planters were running Monday afternoon (5/15). Growers are looking for any window to get seed in the ground. Our only planting window the past two years was one week in June. We need a wider window this year because our acres are double or more than what we had in 2016.
“Almost half of the growers this year are either planting their first ever cotton crop, or haven’t grown cotton in a number of years. They realize the potential for payout is better than about anything else.”
Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock: “It’s still too early for any insect pressure in the Lubbock area. I just saw some of the first cotton emergence this morning (5/15). As soon as we see about a 50% emergence rate, we’ll need to start scouting closely for thrips.
“A lot of wheat fields are quickly drying out and we could see movement of thrips from those fields to young cotton plants. Also, we need to watch for wireworms, especially on fields that were planted in sorghum last year.”
Danielle Sekula Ortiz, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Weslaco/Lower Rio Grande Valley: “With more than 200,000 acres of cotton this year, guys are really into the crop. The weather has turned off really hot and dry, so they are heavily into irrigating. Cotton is squaring nicely. Some is blooming while other fields are at pinhead square.
“We had strong aphid numbers early on but they have calmed down in the past couple of weeks. We have a lot of natural predators in cotton fields and that helps a lot with the aphids. We didn’t face much fleahopper pressure during early squaring, but we’ve had a flare up this past week and a-half. We’ve been spraying for them and could see more numbers after guys start harvesting sorghum. We have a Section 18 for Transform that is helping control insect pressure.”
Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma: “It’s May and everyone has the fever. We’re rolling with planters. Cotton is going in the ground and peanuts will be planted by the end of this week. I haven’t heard of any cotton that’s up, but some should be popping through later this week.
“Of course, many farmers had to battle bacterial blight last year and they’re aware of its potential again this year. Resistant varieties help, but if that resistance doesn’t prevent the disease, it’s not pretty. If guys are irrigating, then the damp, warm environment can create conditions that promote bacterial blight and other diseases. They need to monitor their fields closely.”
Joel Webb, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Runnels, Tom Green & Concho Counties: “We’re seeing some early planting in the Concho Valley and other parts of this West Texas area. There’s a good chance for rain later this week and many guys are waiting to see what happens before they move into the fields. Fields look good with no weed pressure, meaning guys have mostly done a good job of herbicide management. Wheat harvest is also just starting. It will also be impacted by showers later this week.”
Shane Osborne, Agronomist, Western Equipment Co., Altus, Oklahoma: “Some guys in southwestern Oklahoma and across the river into Texas had planted into good soil moisture last week, but a rash of heavy thunderstorms and wind hurt some fields.
“On conventional and minimum-till fields, some farmers are waiting to see whether stands come up. Others have used rotary hoes to break up a crust that was formed from the blowing rain. Many are making plans to replant this week. Things are much better for no-till-planted fields.
“I’m not seeing many weed problems. For the most part, guys have stayed up to speed with weed control issues. Most of them are rotating to alternative chemistries to battle glyphosate resistant weeds. Insects are not yet a problem, but rains typically bring insect pressure. I’m trying to make sure they are ready for thrips issues and control measures if needed.”
“All in all, few guys will complain about the storms we’ve had. In this part of the country, you never complain about the birth of a heifer calf or a rain.”
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