Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor


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


Hail and wind is the last thing cotton growers need at this stage of the game. Huge losses west of Lubbock — Hockley, Cochran and Lamb counties — were reported and photographed by Kerry Siders. In New Mexico, Patrick Kircher said a late June hail storm and high winds took out many dryland cotton fields. Tommy Doederlein told us that some fields in Dawson County, Texas, have been knocked naked and replanted several times due to hail and blowing sand.  


Hail and wind wiped out the cotton in this field. 

Photo: Kerry Siders, Texas AgriLife Extension IPM Agent

Bollworms are swarming
in the Upper Coast and many of them survived Bt technologies in corn growing further south. See comments from Paul Pilsner.


Weed flushes are bringing out the spray rigs for more post herbicide applications, including a lot of dicamba and 2, 4-d. Check our News Links to read about Arkansas and Missouri’s separate decisions to be DONE with dicamba due to increasing numbers of drift reports plus, Tennessee's newly issued application rules.


There’s a lot of PGRs going out. Seth Byrd suggests you might want to give this some thought based on the variety planted.


Take a look at a photo sent to us by Rex Friesen of an early Kansas cotton bloom.  


Pull our that phone and send us your photos from the cotton fields! Make sure you send the largest file size. Email is better than text but we'll be excited to get whatever you can send! 




Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent Hockley, Cochran & Lamb Counties: “It got pretty ugly last week. We received 3 to 4 days of good rain, but it was also accompanied by high winds and hail. Damage was severe. Hockley County lost about 40% of its originally planted cotton. Cochran County’s crop loss could be as high as 50 to 55% hailed or blown out while Lamb County is in the 30 to 35% range. These 3 counties normally see about 450,000 total acres of cotton planted, so this is a significant loss in this part of the South Plains. In the 27 years I’ve worked on cotton in this area – this is the worst I’ve seen.


Corn stalks are all that remain in this field hit by hail.

Photo: Kerry Siders, Texas AgriLife Extension IPM Agent


“The hail hit dryland and irrigated acres across all 3 counties. We have some cotton we’d like to keep, but it’s too late to baby some of it along. For crops that didn’t get hail, the older cotton might start blooming later this week. But most cotton won’t bloom until after July 25. That’s approaching the bubble as far as having time to finish. We have until about August 20 as the last effective bloom date in order to make harvestable bolls.


“We’re at a time when we need to scout for fleahoppers, as well as lygus and stinkbugs. A lot of hailed out acres may be planted back to sorghum. As it grows, we’ll need to keep an eye out for sugarcane aphid outbreaks.  

“Many growers went with cotton and crops other than sorghum because of its low price and the sugarcane aphid threat. Some of those guys may just fallow their cotton ground. That might not be a bad idea. They may take an insurance adjustment, try not to lose money on anything else and call it good for the year. If they have grain harvest equipment, they may come back with sorghum or short-season corn. Another option would be to plant haygrazer if they have cattle, or plant haygrazer late in the season, let it freeze and provide a cover crop for next year’s cotton.”

Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “A lot of cotton remains way behind in the Rolling Plains. Much of it is due to a late emergence after being dry planted. They’ve also had a lot of hail damage.


“In the southern Blacklands, a lot of cotton has reached cutout without receiving the rain it needed. The crop is now at 3 to 4 NAWF. The northern Blacklands continue to receive rain and those fields should be flowering soon.


“I haven’t heard of much bollworm activity in the Blacklands. As far as weeds are concerned, guys using the dicamba and Enlist technologies have been pleased with the weed control that the herbicides have provided. They even had control on weeds taller than the recommended time for treatment. For best results, I caution growers to use those technologies when weeds are not over 3 to 4 inches tall.


“While there have been issues with dicamba drift in other states, I’ve heard no complaints about off-target movement of the new technologies in our area.”


Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: "Our overall impression is that we’ve made it through the rough time. We had wind plus hail, but also received some good rainfall. We now have a full soil profile and a lot of hot weather coming. Cotton is taking off, fruit loads are increasing and I expect that to pick up quickly.


“We’re putting out a lot of PGRs trying to keep plants nice and compact instead of letting them get out of hand. Weed control has been quite good. There was early trouble when people couldn’t spray due to high winds. Now weeds are mostly under control. Both dicamba and 2, 4-d technologies are being used. We’re hearing mixed results for those products. Insects are light and we’ve only seen a few fleahoppers.


“We’re excited about this crop. Some growers, north of Hutchinson at Lyons, planted cotton for the first time this year. I received a picture today (7/11) of their first bloom. We feel there’s a great future for more cotton in Kansas.”


Early cotton bloom in Kansas!

Photo sent from: Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers


Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock: “We are seeing our first blooms in the region. Fortunately, insect pressure is light. There are a few fleahoppers but numbers are still low. We’re not seeing any fall armyworm activity in the field but we are catching a lot of moths in traps. So we’ll be looking closely for those in the next couple of weeks.


“Thrips are no longer a danger. Along with fleahoppers and fall armyworms, we’re scouting for plant bugs like lygus, as well as stinkbugs, which were a problem last year.”


Kyle Aljoe, Crop Quest Consulting, Dimmitt, Texas: “Cotton looks good overall. I saw our first blooms today (7/10) on dryland. Next week we’ll really start blooming in irrigated fields.


“Weed control is still good. The dicamba program is working well. We’ve hit weeds early and we’re staying on top of them. We did have to hoe out some volunteer corn and pigweed resistant to Roundup.


“I’m seeing a few lygus here and there, but overall we’re pretty neutral on bugs. There’s no disease in cotton, but I’m seeing a little bacterial stripe in corn. Forage sorghum looks good except for a few weeds, which is normal.”   



Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County/Portales: “Things have taken a turn for the worse for many growers. We had hail in late June that decimated a lot of dryland cotton. Outside of a tornado, I’ve never seen physical damage like this. It leveled a lot of that baby cotton. Winds with 50 to 70 mph gusts also didn’t help.


“Remaining cotton looks good after rain that accompanied the hail. The rain and heat will kick it into gear. We also expect weeds to explode after the moisture, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a flush of insects come in after plants received rainfall.”


Tommy Doederlein, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Dawson County: “There’s a lot of blank ground in Dawson County after continued battles with blowing sand and hail. Some fields have been replanted up to 3 times and are still getting hit.


“Cotton not hurt by blowing and other weather problems looks pretty good. I saw one field that had blooms this morning (7/10). It was planted very early in April. Plants that were big by the time the sand hit survived the beating. A lot of other stuff that was planted in stubble looks pretty good and is surviving. For the most part, a lot of irrigated cotton will pull out of it.


“Weeds are getting out of control in some fields with all of the time spent on replanting and sandfighting. Also, the weather prevented some farmers from applying the new dicamba or 2, 4-d technologies which are limited to ground applications. You can’t just call in a crop duster. Some weeds are knee high and will likely need hoe crews. The sooner they can get in there the better before weeds put on seed heads.


“We’re not seeing any insect pressure, although some regional counties are seeing plenty of fall armyworm moths in their traps. We’ll have to watch for those.”


Shane Osborne, Agronomist, Western Equipment Co., Altus, Oklahoma: “Our area crop looks good. A lot of the region had good rain over the July 4th weekend and the week before. It was perfectly timed because a lot of the cotton was about to bloom or close to bloom within 10 days. That cotton is now blooming, so the timely rain helped us maintain high yield potential.


“The irrigated crop is at about 8 to 10 NAWF and has excellent yield potential. The dryland is still a mixed bag. The early dryland looks good, but the late planted stuff may be against the wall. It will need more rain and a good open fall.


“We beat back fleahoppers and we’re seeing a few aphids. But I think that situation will take care of itself thanks to plenty of beneficials before we get too far into flowering. Weed control has been good because growers got in tune with the critical practice of implementing residual herbicides. Those fields are paying off with good weed control. Also, not having much rain in June meant limited weed flushes. However, the recent rain has brought up weeds we’ll have to deal with in the next week or two.”



Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma: “I saw my first bloom Friday (7/7). All of the irrigated cotton that was planted the first week of May is starting to bloom. It’s at 8 to 10 NAWF, with a height to node ratio of 1.5 to 2 inches. We’ve been putting on PGRs and some guys are going with their second round.


“The dryland crop is hit and miss. There are probably 40 to 50% failed dryland acres due to the hot dry spell in June and other bad weather. In the southwest edge of Oklahoma, they’ve had more rain and the dryland looks better. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve only had spotty hail.


“We’re starting to see weed flushes coming through the preemerge. We’re fighting it and the dicamba seems to be working. However, we’re wondering if the weeds will die or just be sick.


“Insects have been pretty light. There’ve been a few fleahoppers and most growers are on top of them. I haven’t seen any early worms or lygus, just fleahoppers. There has been some bronzing of leaves, but we can’t tell if it’s disease or herbicide damage. So far there’s no bacterial blight like we had last year.


“Peanuts are blooming and pegging and there’s no disease. They like the heat and irrigation water. We’ll see what happens with all crops this week as we return to 100-degree days. We could see 109 later this week.”


Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “The monsoons have arrived and we’ve seen some intense storms pop up in the last few days. A lot of moisture is coming up from the gulf. That’s not uncommon, but we’re seeing more Level 2 heat stress again. Guys need to keep an eye on it and start getting aggressive with the PGR applications. There is a good bottom fruit load and the crop is setting up for a good start to the season, but we don’t need any excessive vegetation.


“We’re seeing some insect pressure from whiteflies. We’ll start treating for them this week and next. Most whiteflies are being seen around melons. Natural predators are helping and also keeping populations intact, but some spraying may be needed.


“There are a few fields out of control with resistant pigweed. These guys really need to stay on top of this or the problem will spread.”


Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas: “The cotton looks good. We’ve had widespread rainfall that’s been very timely. The crop should make more than some of these guys expect. We should start harvest in about one month.


“While the crop looks good, we’ve had a terribly bad year with worms. It started along the Coastal Bend and moved up here. They came out of corn as mature bollworms and got into the cotton. We’re finding that they’re becoming more tolerant of our Bt genes, no matter which technology is used. There is less control than we’ve had before. Moths are laying in bloom tags. They’re staying off the green tissues, which have the highest concentration of the Bt toxin. The worms have to feed before they die. If you have a huge egg lay and want to see zero damage, you’ll need to spray.


“We’ve also seen leaffooted plant bugs build up along the coast, so we’ll have to scout for those in the Upper Coast. We’ve had very few lygus this year. Stinkbugs were strong early, but were controlled by spraying.


“After some early incidents, I haven’t heard of any more problems with herbicide drift with the new technologies. Our guys are very careful. When they make a mistake, they make adjustments.


“No one gets close to spraying dicamba around soybean fields. Our beans look unbelievable. Sorghum also looks good and we’re cutting nice looking corn this week.” 


Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We’ve had more good moisture at the right time for much of the region. Most places can give irrigation a break. This moisture should help build up our soil profile to help plants that had fruit knocked off lower branches after being stressed by dry weather and heat during the early part of squaring.


“We’re seeing a few blooms but it’s hit and miss for many fields. Again, it goes back to late planting and losing earlier-set squares during that hot, dry period. Several fields should be blooming in a week to 10 days.


“Weeds have come on after the rains. Folks need to get back into the field to take care of them. If they got a residual applied, herbicides should be activated by the rain. Hopefully we’ll see the benefit of that.


“Folks should still consider whether or not they need to apply PGRs. If you’re in a situation where a field has a history of rank growth, high nitrogen and good water and where you’ve lost squares, you may benefit from PGR this early. But in most cases, our environment and fruit load regulates growth far better than any product can. Right now, if you apply 2 to 6 ounces of Pix to a field that’s beside a field with no PGR, it would be hard to tell the difference in growth. PGRs are cheap and can prevent plants from getting too tall by harvest, but a lot of today’s varieties are short and compacted already. So I tend to let nature do my regulation for me. That’s one less thing I have to go the field with.” 


Rogator on the road again.

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography


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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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