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Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest EditorDebra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor
Special thanks to PhytoGen, the exclusive sponsor of AgFax Southwest Cotton.
Rainstorms rolled into parts of southwest cotton country bringing relief for many, but high winds and large hail left some damaged acres. Moisture amounts varied – less than an inch to as much as 5 inches. Hail damaged cotton was a tough sight to see on what had been flourishing fields up to now. See comments from Scott Meeks.
A crop insurance dilemma may hit more dryland growers than expected. Faced with the choice of staying with the crop or calling it a failure, Blayne Reed expects a potential for acreage loss in his area.
Fleahopper sprays are going out as squaring progresses. Thrips pressure is slowing down in late planted cotton. Bollworms in blooms have Coastal Bend growers concerned, as do stinkbugs. Nematode resistant varieties appear to be helping fend off that underground pest.
Resistant pigweed and kochia are challenging old and new technologies. Not much to report on herbicide drift. Tom Studnicka says he’s seeing great care taken with applications: “They’re talking first instead of shooting first.”
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Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale, Floyd Swisher Counties: “We enjoyed a good rain last night (6/25). It looks like 0.8” to 1.7 inches. Since the dryland cotton was so stressed due to heat, wind and dry weather, the rain will help growers make up their minds on whether to continue with the crop or turn it in as failed for insurance purposes. We could see more failures than some want to think.
“Our irrigated crop is looking good, but overall, our square set is not as good as in the past few years due to the hot, dry weather and wind.
“We’re finding a few fleahoppers in older cotton and looking for thrips in later cotton. Thrips are not moving like they were so we don’t see any big pressure. I haven’t seen any lygus yet.
“I think we’re doing a better job on weeds this year. Producers are getting herbicide applications done to stay in front of weed outbreaks. I haven’t seen too many nightmares with drift, although a few producers using both old and new technology saw problems after they didn’t get sprayers cleaned out correctly. With this rain, we can expect to see some weed flushes.”
Wayne McAlister, Crop Production Services, Portales, New Mexico: “A lot of fields are beaten up badly today (6/26). Wind did the damage and we had everything from 0.5” to nearly 5 inches of rain. We needed the rain, but the wind hurt.
“Cotton has finally dug in and taken off. The warm weather really helped it root down, but we’re still all over the place in crop status. Some cotton is behind and at only the 2-leaf stage, while other fields are squaring. A lot of dryland is at 6 to 8 leaves, but some either didn’t come up or is still coming up. But given the slow start we had, it looks pretty good.
“Weeds are a mixed bag. We haven’t had enough rain to have many weed problems. But after all of this rain, we’re fixing to find out more about weeds. A lot of our acres are dicamba and there have been some post applications go out.
“Insect pressure is low. We got ahead of thrips and haven’t had to worry about anything else.
“Corn was hit by the wind but I haven’t seen anything snapped over.”
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “We had scattered showers over the weekend, which helped people who needed water. I was at a field day in Ellis County this morning (6/27) and cotton is still a mixed bag. They had un-uniform emergence, which is true for most of the central and northern Blacklands area.
“The southern Blacklands had been in dire need of rain and some areas got it, up to 3 inches in spots. Cotton is running out of horsepower for those who didn’t receive a rain. I saw one field Saturday evening (6/24) that was at 2 NAWF. That was an extreme situation, but more rain is needed for much of the area.
“Guys continue to stay on top of weeds, but will need to watch for flushes where they received rain.”
Tom Studnicka, Studnicka Consulting, Belle Plaine, Kansas: “We have a lot of wind damaged cotton. Multiple rounds of storms and continued high winds between storms have hurt us.
“We’re seeing some cotton set and retain squares. The later cotton is struggling the worst due to wind damage. We’re still fighting a little thrips pressure on the later stuff.
“Weed-wise we’re in good shape. With combinations of dicamba overlapping with residuals, we’ve been lucky enough to get things sprayed between the wind and rain. I give everyone credit around here for managing the new technology. Growers seem very conscious and careful. They’re talking first instead of shooting first.
“However, 2, 4-d drift is continuing to hit some fields. We’re 95% dicamba cotton, which is helping on weed issues. But some is being hurt by 2, 4-d drift coming from grain crops and pastures.”
Mark Hatley, Crop Quest Consulting, Dumas, Texas: “Our cotton is starting to take off in the northwest Panhandle. Most is squaring and we’re fighting a few fleahoppers. We’ve had some spot hail with a little rain.
“We’re trying to make post-emergence herbicide applications and a few PGRs are going out where vegetative growth could get ahead of us.
“We’re still having trouble with kochia weed resistance to about any herbicide we apply. Dicamba is helping some but it’s not a magic wand. We’re getting some tools to help manage kochia better – dicamba and 2, 4-d, but it’s still hard to control. We’re seeing good control with most other weeds. New technology and other herbicides are helping out with Roundup resistant pigweed.
“Corn looks good and is from 10 to 14 leaves. We had some spider mites, but beneficials helped get them under control. Sorghum is up and looking good. We’re not seeing any insect pressure yet.”
Wayne Keeling, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Weed Specialist, Lubbock: “We’ve had some good rain in spots. That’s good for crops, but could create some weed flushes. The area around Lubbock has seen low early season weed pressure, partly because it has been so dry.
“Where people have put out new technology, they’re seeing good results. It has worked well. Growers know they need to get in the field when weeds are small with their post applications. Spraying with weeds at 2 to 4 inches high should be everyone’s goal. Also, adding another residual herbicide with a post treatment is a good way to control weeds the second half of the season.
“We’re not seeing any major drift issues. In this area, people have been able to use dicamba products safely and effectively through the years. We believe that trend will continue in our part of the country.”
Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “We’ve had good rain accumulations in the past week. Altus had 1.5”, Grandfield 0.72” and Hollis has 0.8 inches. That’s substantial, especially for the dryland fields that were dry planted. The irrigation district had released water a little earlier until the rain came. Fortunately, we haven’t had many days over 100 like others in the region, so the crop hasn’t suffered heavily from too much heat.
“Cotton is going great guns. Seed planted up against the June 20 insurance deadline should be up within the next few days. A lot of the crop is squaring and we anticipate some blooms within the next week to 10 days.
“A lot of fleahopper shots are going out on cotton that’s squaring and guys are also watching for thrips in the late cotton. I’m not hearing of any major weed problems and haven’t had any negative calls about herbicide drift. Bacterial blight was a big problem last year, but with so many disease-resistant varieties being planted, we don’t expect to see much of that.”
Scott Meeks, Yield Pro Crop Consulting, Farwell, Texas/Western Panhandle: “Everything is moving quick and looks good except for quite a few fields that got hit with hail last night (6/25). We’re looking at hailed on cotton today east and west of Dalhart and near Hartley. Some hail was golf ball size. We’ll lose some cotton out of that.
“Up to then we had one of the best starts we’ve ever had. What didn’t get hailed on still looks good. A lot of dryland looks promising on the north plains. Everything has pretty well had a layby application and the majority of weed control has been done.
“We’re putting out PGRs and spraying for lygus and fleahoppers. They’re not extremely heavy but we’re going across fields and taking them out as we go.”
Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “Temperatures are back to normal this week after hitting 120 last week. We’ll be below 107 to 108 in the low desert. Last week’s heat put some areas at Level 2 heat stress, where we can see issues with poor pollination and misshaped bolls. The 2- to 5-day old bolls are susceptible to falling off if they don’t get pollinated due to heat stress. So guys need to keep an eye on their fields and keep them well watered.
“Insects remain quiet. There have been some minimal sprays for lygus but no real cause for concern. I haven’t seen any verticillium wilt or alternaria disease yet, but once the monsoon rains start, we’ll have to keep an eye out for disease. The monsoon will probably start in the next 7 to 10 days. We’ll also watch for root rot in fields. That usually shows up in late July and in to August.”
Jim Johnson, Independent Crop Consultant, Corpus Christi, Texas/Coastal Bend: “We received another good rain. It was a little late but still welcomed. That is helping us a lot and we have a shot at making a top crop. Boll and square sets are all improving and our potential is going up. We are past peak bloom and a lot of fields are at cutout. New varieties are helping produce bigger bolls.
“We still have problems with resistant pigweed. Another weed that’s giving us problems is parthenium, also called sneezeweed.
“We’re trying to protect against stinkbugs, along with bollworms. We had a 2-week to 18-day egg lay and had to deal with worms in blooms. We’ve escaped pressure from sugarcane aphid in milo so far. Rains blew in sideways and the aphids have been on the retreat.
“Like others, we don’t like the drop in cotton prices we’re seeing. The
milo price is worse. It’s terrible, especially for the inputs we have to
put on it.”
Xandra Morris, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill & McLennan Counties: “We’re looking pretty good. We’ve been cooler with cloudy days the past week and a half. But we’re warming up and cotton is growing well. The oldest stuff is at third grown square. However, we have some replants that are still at 2 true leaves.
“We’re looking for thrips in the replanted stuff. Fleahoppers are still a concern and growers are closely monitoring populations. Bollworm egg lay started last week and I’ve seen a few eggs in terminals. Fields further south are having heavy bollworms. We’re hoping Bt technology can keep up with their control. And, I’ve heard of high stinkbug populations in milo further south that will move into cotton. I’ll keep an eye out for those up here.
“We’re seeing a lot of glyphosate-resistant pigweed, but it seems like the new technologies are doing really well in helping control them. Everyone has been as careful as they should be in controlling herbicide drift. I’ve not heard of any drift issues.”
Jason Woodward, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Plant Pathologist (Cotton & Peanuts), Lubbock: “Bacterial blight has been seen in parts of southern growing areas. We discovered the disease in the College Station area several weeks ago. A combination of rainfall and a larger canopy probably helped cause an increase in the blight. A lot of growers have planted disease resistant varieties, but if they’re growing any susceptible varieties, they need to watch for bacterial blight and other diseases.
“In the South Plains area, I’ve had a few calls on what looks like rhizoctonia seedling disease from north of Lubbock to down south at San Angelo. That was likely on plants that had a tough time getting stand establishment. It could also be due to previous crop history, depth of planting and frequency of irrigation. As late as the crop is, we have some ground to make up. Fortunately, with warmer temperatures, there will probably be little time for rhizoc damage, but guys still need to watch for it in young cotton.
“Also, root knot and reniform nematode damage could start to appear soon, especially with earlier planted cotton. There are no in-season options for their control, other than if you have reserves of Vydate, which is labeled for control of these nematodes.”
Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We really needed rain and finally got it. For those dry-planted fields setting and waiting, it’s the first sign of rain they’ve seen. Some fields could see newly emerging plants. Other fields are close to the squaring stage, when water demand starts to climb. The rain will really help.
“Guys have been keeping up with weeds, but they’ll need to watch for flushes after the rain. They’ve done a good job so far. Weeds that come up shouldn’t be too difficult to manage if timely herbicide applications are made.
“We’re still behind on growth and it will probably be mid July before we see the majority of the area cotton start to bloom.”
“It’s sad to hear about the heavy hail damage that accompanied rain in the northwest Panhandle. I haven’t heard of a whole lot of hail further south.”
Cotton bloom. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography
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