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

Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor


Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor



Bollworm injury is unexpectedly high in Bt cotton in parts of Texas. If you’re caught up in this, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Similar reports are surfacing in the Midsouth, with hints of this in the Southeast, as well. That’s based on information gathered this week by the editors of our other regional cotton newsletters. To varying degrees, all Bt technologies were being oversprayed in the lower Midsouth in the hardest hit areas. 

Fortunately, insects remain light in much of our northern coverage area, but our crop advisors still have stinkbugs, fleahoppers, lygus, fall armyworms and other would-be menaces on the watch. Whiteflies are in some Lower Rio Grande Valley fields, where harvest is in full swing.

Texas: Scout School/Turn Row Meeting – Thursday, July 20, 9 a.m., Adobe Walls Gin near Morse, Contact Hansford County Extension, 806-659-4130, or Hutchinson County Extension, 806-878-4026.

CROP INSURANCE: Rules and Replant Options

In the wake of destructive winds and hail, many West Texas farmers have been forced to replant cotton at least once and up to 3 times in some cases.

To quality for full crop insurance, the planting date deadline for cotton was June 5 for many in our coverage area. It was sooner for some and as late as June 20 for others. Thanks to cotton prices that are stronger than those for grain, many growers pushed planters up to July 4 and crossed their fingers for timely rains and an open fall.

Gary Six, FSA executive director in Yoakum County, Texas, says with deadlines now long gone for cotton crop insurance coverage, there have been questions about what to plant in regards to the federal farm program.

“Some people replanted cotton after the July 4 weekend disaster (hail and wind),” he says. “In that case, FSA would classify it as the original crop, even though cotton is not covered under the farm program. If they went with sorghum, corn or peanuts, then those crops would go in as crops covered under the farm program.”

If growers chose to plant corn, sorghum or other crops after hailed or blown-out cotton, according to Six, USDA coverage would depend on length of a particular crop’s growing season.

“My interpretation is that they must count back from effective first frost date in their county. If the crop’s days to maturity are below that, growers may plant it. But if you plant in August and know you couldn’t make a crop, you’re not covered,” says Six.

If you still have questions, contact your local FSA office for clarification.





Danielle Sekula Ortiz, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Weslaco/Lower Rio Grande Valley: “The crop is in its final stages. Some guys have started harvesting. A lot more guys are putting out boll openers. Others are applying their last irrigation. Cotton looks really good. There are lots of bolls and we should see good yields.

“The only pest I’m seeing is whiteflies. Some guys have had to spray for them. Fields are being sprayed for boll weevil as part of the eradication program. A lot of malathion is going out. All grains have been harvested and we escaped any major sugarcane aphid pressure at harvest.”

New Mexico cotton fields are benefitting from

annual monsoon rain. Photo: John Idowu, NMSU


John Idowu, New Mexico Stsate University Extension Cotton Specialist, Las Cruces: “The monsoon has come and it is helpful to our southwestern New Mexico cotton. It started raining on Saturday (7/15), rained more on Sunday and more on Monday. Things are looking pretty good.

“We’re starting to see flowers in many fields. Right now it appears that the crop will yield close to last year’s, which was a good crop. We’re still free of any bad insect problems and there’s no disease to report. We’ll be watching for insects and diseases after the rains.”

Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “We received about a-half inch of rain in Altus over the weekend. That will help the crop, which, in general, is in good shape. Growth stages vary. Some irrigated is moving slowly and will just come into bloom this week. Cotton that survived the May cool weather bloomed around July 4. Some late planted dryland will bloom soon.

“A lot of cotton bloomed at 8 NAWF, while early cotton fields were at 11 to 12 NAWF. Irrigated in Tillman County is running about 8 NAWF. Guys have caught up with weed control and I haven’t heard of issues with drift complaints – knock on wood.

“We’re encouraging guys to be cautious with insecticides and take care of their beneficials. We haven’t seen a lot of bollworm numbers like they had down in Texas, and don’t want growers to overreact. We’ve had a few aphids around that beneficials feed on. We don’t want to make a mess and spray insecticides that kill them. Aphids could cause trouble and it could lead to spider mites.

“Guys need to make sure they understand the growth potential of their varieties. If they have real growthy varieties on land that is high in nitrogen, consider using PGRs to keep the plant size as compact as possible, especially if they are running strippers. Of course, if the weather forecast is correct – 103 degrees this week – then that may ‘Pix’ it for us.”  


Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “I traveled to Odessa in the past few days and saw a lot of fields. The crop looks good in the Big Springs area. It’s variable in the Abilene and Colorado City area. Once you get to Garden City it looks good. Some is at mid bloom and others are starting to square really well.

“The Concho Valley is variable, but the crop looks good and has a lot of potential. In the Brazos Bottom, irrigated cotton is starting to cutout. We’re trying to fill out with what we have. Overall it looks good and most has bloomed out the top. Hopefully this is the last irrigation we’ll need.

“The Upper Coast is seeing some foliar diseases due to potassium deficient fields. Hopefully it won’t have a major impact this late in the season.”

Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: “We’re hanging on. We’ve had a few spotty showers to keep things intact. A big rain will help a lot of it, especially the irrigated. Most dryland is at cutout or past. Plant growth has evened out after being un-uniform before. We’ve been spraying some edges for weeds to keep them under control.

“I’ve been lucky with insects, in that there are no bollworms in the cotton I’m watching. But there have been a lot of bollworms in the area. I’ve been able to keep things in check with a good load of beneficials. Also, my cotton was later and wasn’t impacted as much when the egg lay started.

“I’m picking up some stinkbugs – checked 8 fields today (7/17) and they’re around. Some showers over the weekend chased them out of corn and into cotton.

“Corn looks good and is nearly ready to cut. The milo is also looking good and ready for harvest. We haven’t had many problems with sugarcane aphids so far. We’re learning how to manage them better with better varieties.”

Jerry Stuckey, farmer-general manager, Northwest Cotton Growers Co-op, Inc., Moscow, Kansas: “Cotton looks good, but we’re still pretty dry. We got a rain early Sunday morning (7/16), about .66 of an inch. I’m happy to say that we’re not seeing any 2, 4-d damage thanks to the new Enlist varieties. Normally, I’m sick by this time of the summer after seeing 2, 4-d damage in about every field I come to, but this year is much better.

“Cotton is squaring and a couple of fields will bloom within a week. We’re applying Pix on some varieties, which are often more growthy than others. We have to keep the vegetation under control. With the good crop we’re seeing so far, our gin could wind up ginning 50,000 bales, the most since 2006. It could reach 60,000 if we have an exceptional crop.

“On another note, I’m out re-baiting boll weevil traps. In Kansas, APHIS cut funding, so we have to set the traps ourselves. We’ve never found a weevil, but we still run the traps and send reports down to Altus, Oklahoma. If we don’t keep the traps out, we won’t have any proof that we’re boll weevil free.”

Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We had scattered rain in the Lubbock area over the weekend, but likely not enough to benefit the crop in most areas. I had no alerts about bad weather on any of my field trials.

“In general, we’re still a little behind. But we’re getting into the bloom period and may start to see some bolls set. Water demand is going up and will hit peak in a few weeks. Getting moisture during that period would be great.

“Our weed control remains good, but we need to be ready for potential flushes after rainfall. We still haven’t heard of any major herbicide drift issues.”

Cotton squaring. Photo: Larry Stalcup

Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo: “For the most part, cotton is in good shape in the northern Panhandle. There was some hail damage in northwestern counties early, and some dryland cotton has been totaled out by insurance adjusters because it didn’t receive enough rainfall. However, the irrigated looks really good and so does other dryland. Most cotton is starting to reach the square through early bloom stage.

“We haven’t had any reports of heavy insect pressure and farmers have done a good job of keeping weeds under control, other than a few fields with flushes.

“Corn looks good and is up to V-4 or V-5 stage in growth. There have been a few spider mite situations, but nothing heavy. We’ve had some grasshopper issues in the western Panhandle. Guys have been proactive in getting them controlled.”

Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “A good portion of the crop is approaching peak bloom in the central and eastern part of the state. In the west, we’ll be terminating many fields within a week to 10 days. That area will receive its last irrigation at the end of July.

“Insects remain light, other than a few isolated sprays for whiteflies and lygus. We had more reports of glyphosate resistant pigweed this week. Roundup is not killing pigweed like it did.

“We’ve had a lot of monsoon activity across the state. Parts of Phoenix and a few other areas have had over 2.5 to 3 inches. That’s a lot of rain for us. I haven’t heard of any reports on hail damage accompanying the rain.

“We may get a break from potential heat stress this week. It’s predicted to only be in the mid to high 90s except further west. But we still need to keep an eye on things because temperatures will be going up again. With the rainfall, we could see too much vegetation very fast.”

DeWayne Dopslauf, Crop Production Services, El Campo, Texas: “About 75% of my cotton is nearly done. It has flowered up to the top. We’ll be defoliating in another month. We had good weed control and didn’t have much of a drift issue. We’ve been cautious about where we’re putting everything.

“The only thing I’m spraying for now is a few stinkbugs. Younger cotton has a little worm pressure in spots, but not enough to get that concerned about. My fields have been spotty for bollworms around El Campo. But some fields an hour north of here, and a week later in growth, had worms a week before we did. But I’ve had no heavy pressure like some other people.

“Most people are harvesting corn and starting on milo. I’m watching stinkbugs move out of those fields to make sure they don’t get out of hand. Corn looks good, with yields of 150 to 195 bushels. A few showers have slowed harvest down.”

Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon: "In the northern Rolling Plains our cotton varies in growth. Some producers who planted early in May and into June are seeing cotton at the pink flower stage. But many planted toward the end of June. Those fields are at 3 to 5 leaves.

“Some fields still have a lot of weeds after the recent rains. Insect pressure is light, but we’re still watching for fleahoppers in the later cotton. We’re encouraging producers to scout fields and check the inside of squares. We’re not seeing any disease pressure so far.”

Chris Locke, CSL Consulting Inc., Sudan, Texas/Eastern New Mexico: “We sure have some rough spots after hail and wind damage. Where we’ve missed the weather, cotton looks good. We’re starting to bloom on the 7th and 8th nodes. But that’s not a large area.

“We got a big flush of weeds after the rain, but for the most part guys are doing a good job of staying ahead of them. Nearly all of my cotton is dicamba and that technology is working well.

“Insect wise – it’s quiet in cotton after having to spray for fleahoppers earlier. But I’m starting to pick up some banks spider mites in corn. The corn crop looks good and is the best it has been in a while. Most of it is silking and pollinating.

“There’s a little milo being replanted after hailed out cotton. What’s going in is probably for a cover crop. The price is low and there’s already a threat from sugarcane aphid, which has been found in Lubbock County.”

David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Professor and Statewide IPM Coordinator, College Station: “Bollworms have been hot and heavy for a good month, with unusual amounts of injury from south Texas up into the Blacklands. As far as I can tell, there is no Bt technology in the field that is not subject to unexpected injury, although there are definite differences among Bt technologies. A lot of Bt cotton fields have had to be treated with insecticides.

“We’re seeing a lot of injury in WideStrike and TwinLink, as well as Bollgard II. Newer technologies containing Vip3A, WideStrike 3 and TwinLink-Plus, tend to show better results. In addition to seeing some resistance in bollworms to some of the Bt technologies, a lot of unexpected injury has to do with where the cotton is in its stage of growth and stress. That influences how these plants express the Bt toxin to combat the worms.

“Unexpected injury is also heavily influenced by where the bollworm egg is laid. I’m seeing quite a few eggs laid on blooms and bloom tags, and then the larva bores directly into the small boll, kind of by-passing the tissue where Bt expression is higher.

“I have 2 tests in College Station planted 2 weeks apart. The later cotton is starting to cutout and is really fruited up and stressed. In that test, I’m picking up 27% fruit injury in the non-Bt, 21.5% in the WideStrike, 11.5% in the WideStrike 3, 5.5% in the Bollgard II and 8.5% in the TwinLink. The threshold is 6% fruit injury with the presence of live larvae. This is by far the most injury I have ever seen in WideStrike 3. In the nearby cotton that was planted 2 weeks later and not as stressed, the non-Bt is running 31% fruit injury, WideStrike is 6 to 8%, and WideStrike 3 is only 2 to 3%.

“So no matter what the Bt technology being used, it’s important for growers to monitor their Bt varieties closely and be ready to take action to control bollworm outbreaks."

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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, dferguson@agfax.com, Office: 601-992-9488. ©2017AgFax Media, LLC.

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