Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Cotton Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Media Managing Editor  


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


Stinkbugs, lygus and other insects are invading fields in parts of our southern coverage area, while fleahoppers and thrips are in central Texas. Wheat harvest in some areas is pushing insects to search for new food sources – like young or emerging cotton plants. 


Panhandle, Kansas and southwestern Oklahoma farmers are dealing with planting delays where temps in the 40s and damp weather are not cooperating with good intentions. The South Plains could use a rain.


Arizona is seeing summer’s heat arrive early. Southern New Mexico’s crop has progressed up to the 6 to 8-leaf stage.


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Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “Summer is here. We’ll be in the upper 90s and low 100s this week, but expect to see more seasonal temperatures in the mid-90s next week. Once we hit June, all bets are off in our desert climate.


“The young cotton is liking the hot weather. We had some Rhizoctonia on subsurface drip irrigated cotton, but the warmer weather should handle it. Most cotton is at the 4 to 5-leaf stage. Some is going into square and some near Yuma is flowering. Insects haven’t been significant. That’s surprising after winter rains brought about excessive vegetation, which typically host more insects.


“Some growers have planted dicamba cotton. They are aware of the labels and tank mix restrictions and hope to see yield and quality improvements.”


Mark Hatley, Crop Quest Consulting, Dumas, Texas: “We’re probably 60% to 70% planted, but that seed is staying in the ground and not wanting to come up and face the cool, damp weather. Soil temperatures are still about 60 degrees, but they may drop with the 45-degree above ground temps we’re seeing early this week.


“We’ve been fortunate to receive some good rain but need to dry out and get more planting done as we approach the end of May. As far north as we are, once we get into June you run the risk of not having enough heat units. We were lucky last fall with the warm September.


“There’s no insect pressure so far. Since we’ve had the rain, we could see more weed pressure. Some farmers are plowing and we’re doing the best we can with herbicides. We’ll depend on the new herbicide technologies in some cases.


“Corn planting was stopped so we could get cotton in the ground. It will resume once cotton is planted.”


Cotton crop looks good in New Mexico.

Photo: John Idowu, New Mexico State University

Extension Cotton Specialist


Kate Harrell, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Jackson, Wharton & Matagorda Counties: “We finally got some rain Sunday night (5/21). Cotton should respond well to it. Our earliest cotton is at 4 to 5-leaf. Some stuff is up to bloom in all 3 counties.


“We’re still seeing a few fleahopper infestations. I also caught a few Lygus bugs in Matagorda County, but they’re not at threshold. So we’re scouting for Lygus, as well as Verde plant bugs and stinkbugs. I’ve not yet seen any bollworm moths, but I’ve heard of some corn earworm in the area.


“The dry weather has held back disease, but we’ll probably see some bacterial blight and target spot.


“We still have some weed pressure from resistant waterhemp. An added problem is that waterhemp cross-pollinates with careless weed.”  


A Word from Larry: 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, or if you have questions, call 806-671-1446.  


Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “Due to bad weather, we’re struggling to get things going. We had about half our irrigated acres planted a few weeks ago then got a heavy rain. A lot of acres crusted over and had to be rotary hoed. Some fields received about 2 inches of rain in 30 minutes and that formed a 2-inch crust.


“Guys are still determining whether they’ll have to replant. Many will, but there’s rain in the forecast, so we’re hoping for warmer temperatures and clear skies later in the week.


“There will be a lot of wheat harvested in the next few weeks. As it dries down, thrips will look for a home. There’s not a lot of cotton up for them to migrate into right now. But guys are going to have to keep a close watch for thrips and aphids when cotton does come up.” 



Katelyn Kowles, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Lubbock & Crosby Counties: “Farmers are welcoming the rains we’ve seen in recent days. It was raining off and on in Lubbock and Crosby counties this morning (5/22) and we’re looking for more later today. We have good soil moisture.


“It’s full speed ahead for guys getting planters in the field. The latest numbers are between 40% and 50% planted in our counties, for both irrigated and dryland acres. There’s an increase in acres. With new and better technologies, there’s a lot of optimism. There’s plenty of dicamba cotton going in. We’re hoping everyone follows the label for all herbicide treatments and are mindful of what their neighbors have planted.


“I’ve heard of some early thrips pressure. Now that wheat has been cut, thrips are moving into seedling cotton. It’s important to check your crop for thrips from emergence up to the 5- to 6-leaf stage. Also, I just got off the phone with someone who thinks he has chinch bugs in western Lubbock County. I hope he’s wrong.


“Sorghum is at the 4 to 5-leaf stage, but there are no signs of sugarcane aphid. A lot of guys planted early to hopefully escape sugarcane aphid pressure. Corn is also up and off to a good start.”


Jim Johnson, Independent Crop Consultant, Corpus Christi, Texas/Coastal Bend: “We still have very good crop potential if we receive some timely rains. Most of the cotton is approaching mid-bloom, but we’ve been behind the 8 ball on moisture. Insect pressure has been light. We had a few fleahoppers and an early flurry of aphids. Unfortunately, some of our older fields are starting to see some stinkbug pressure. We’ll probably have to treat for them. We need to maintain our good position in the field in the event we receive that good rain.


“Corn is going to be spotty and milo is variable in growth. Sorghum that was planted on sorghum ground looks very good. Headworms and stinkbugs have been light, but we will probably have to make late season treatments to control sugarcane aphids. We’ll need to keep them out of the heads in order to harvest.”


Jerry Stuckey, farmer-general manager, Northwest Cotton Growers Co-op, Inc., Moscow, Kansas: “Most fields are a half to two-thirds planted, but it’s been too wet to get much planted in the past few days. It’s been raining for 45 minutes this afternoon (5/22) and it rained Sunday morning and evening. It has virtually shut us down. It’s even too wet for those trying to plant into wheat stubble from last summer.


“We will see more acres and virtually everything is a 2, 4-d resistant variety. We’ve been hurt a lot by 2, 4-d drift damage before. The resistant varieties should help in late June and early July when squares are just coming in. That’s when we lost a lot of yield potential in the past due to drift.


“Very little cotton is up, so we’re not seeing any thrips pressure. All seed is treated, so that will give us some time to hold off thrips when we get a stand.”


Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: “We finally got a good, general 1-inch rain over the weekend. It was really needed. We had seen scattered showers, but nothing substantial. The cotton perked right up. Most is at the 4 to 5-leaf stage, but some is at pinhead to match-head square.


“Thrips have been heavy. We’ve been cutting wheat, which is chasing the thrips into the cotton. We have to treat most fields. I’ve seen a few fleahoppers, but it’s still a little early for them. Farmers have done a good job of getting weeds under control in recent weeks. Fields were cleaned up before the rain.


“Corn is nearly through the pollination stage and was in desperate need of rain. More rain forecast early next week will hit corn just right. Sorghum is not yet headed out and soybeans are blooming. Wheat yields have ended up better than we expected and there’s still a lot to cut.”


John Idowu, New Mexico State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Las Cruces:  “Temperatures are starting to warm up and the cotton is responding well in southern New Mexico. It looks very good and things should start picking up very fast. Most cotton is at 2 to 4-true leaves but some is at the 6 to 8-leaf stage. We’re not yet seeing any squaring. We remain fortunate that we aren’t seeing any thrips pressure. But farmers will continue to scout for them.”



Tommy Doederlein, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Dawson County: “Most of our peanuts and sorghum are in, but cotton planting has been a struggle. The little stuff we have up is just pushing through the crust. However, most guys are waiting on a good rain before they plant. We have good soil moisture, but we’re dry on the top. If we don’t get rain this week, many farmers will start planting after June 1 to make sure they get cotton planted by our county’s June 10 insurance deadline.


“Guys have done a good job in handling weed pressure. They’re taking advantage of the new technologies and obtaining a good burndown. Some are also running knifing rigs in front of the planter to knock down the weeds that are out there.


“We aren’t seeing any thrips or aphids thus far.”


Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon: "We had rain last week and it’s already raining today (5/23). That has slowed down wheat harvest and cotton planting. Only about 5% of cotton has been planted and only 30% to 45% of wheat has been harvested. A few farmers will plant cotton into wheat stubble but most are conventional tillage.


“As wheat harvest continues and cotton starts coming up, we will be monitoring fields closely for thrips and other insect pressure. We need to give young cotton plants the best possible conditions to make a good stand.”


Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “We’re a mixed bag. Overall, the crop is progressing, and good rains of from 1 to 3 inches have been appreciated. The Valley received a little rain and it rained from the Victoria and Wharton areas up through the Blacklands. Rain helped buy Brazos Bottom farmers a grace period on irrigating. Cotton and grain crops needed that moisture.


“Weed control remains good. A lot of herbicide programs seem to be working fairly well. Guys need to stay on top of weeds. Hopefully they got some residuals applied before the rain.”  


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