Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor


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


Rain and cool temperatures have blessed the Panhandle, South Plains and eastern New Mexico. Some areas have topped 8 inches with more expected later this week.  


The rain has also ramped up late season weed pressure. Get those weeds while they are small, cautions Wayne Keeling, otherwise they could present problems for next season. 


Bollworms have moved into areas of West Texas. In the Panhandle, Ed Bynum warns growers who did not plant Bt varieties to keep a check on worms, especially where less corn was planted this year. 


Fields in southwestern Oklahoma could sure use a rain, while Arizona cotton continues to receive monsoon showers resulting in disease outbreaks.


Could be time to call Elmer Fudd – rabbits and deer are an ongoing nuisance in areas south of Big Spring.


Reminder:  The Celebrate Cotton Game is coming up on September 16. Check our AgFax News section for ticket details. 





Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Cotton Research Director, Cotton Extension Program Leader, Altus: “We didn’t receive much rain in the past few days but we have a forecast for some showers through Wednesday. Temperatures are in the low 80s. The chance for rain and cool weather is good news. The bad news is that if we don’t get the rain, it could be a rough ride for our dryland cotton – it’s showing signs of wilt in places.


“Fortunately, the irrigated is cranking like it should. No issues have come up with insects. Still, we’re encouraging guys to watch for bollworms in the next few weeks. We’re hoping for the best, and that we don’t get into a bollworm fight like they’ve had down in Texas.”


Wayne Keeling, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Weed Specialist, Lubbock: “To this point, if you tour the South Plains, the vast majority of farmers have done a good job of controlling weeds. Fields are clean for the most part, but with the rain in the past few days and more expected in the next few days, there will be late season weed pressure.


“Farmers will likely need to put out some late herbicide applications to control weed outbreaks and keep spraying to the end of the growing season. We need to prevent weeds from going to seed. They will be small after the rain, so take action quickly to prevent late season weeds from creating problems for next year.”


Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: “We’re cooling down a little after it was 106 in Waco on Saturday (7/29). There’s a good chance of rain later this week. It will help take the edge off the heat for people and crops.


“The dryland cotton is starting to open. We’ll start defoliating the early stuff in about 2 weeks. The irrigated is still running about 6 NAWF. We’ll probably water soon for the last time. We’ve been staying on top of excessive vegetative growth with PGRs. We’ll probably need another shot in some places.


“Most of my stuff escaped bollworm pressure. However, some later stuff is picking up fall armyworms. Their populations are heavy up toward Comanche. I’m at the Brazos River bottom today (8/1). We sprayed for stinkbugs here last week. They’re still popping up in some places.”  


Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County: “Our cotton is looking good. I was in some early planted fields on Friday (7/28). The bolls were opening and had been for about a week. It looks like an average crop in the 3-bale range. We’re probably about 3 weeks from starting defoliation.


“I think we’ve been fortunate to escape major insect pressure. I haven’t heard of any major bollworm problems like they had toward the coast.” 


Ed Bynum, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Amarillo: “With as much cotton acreage as we have in the Panhandle north of Amarillo, growers need to be aware of bollworm possibilities. A lot of growers don’t plant Bt cotton because they have never had to worry about bollworms. We’ve always had a lot of corn acres. Corn earworms – or bollworms for cotton – prefer to lay eggs on corn silks, which has likely kept them from moving into cotton.


“But with increased cotton acreage, we may see a situation where we begin to have lepidopterans, bollworms and fall armyworms, show up in cotton fields. There’s a possibility that once we get one generation in corn, there may not be enough corn acres to attract more moths. So leps may start moving into cotton.


“As for corn insects, the cooler temperatures in the 70s and 80s and higher humidity may help control spider mites this week. Those conditions can create a fungal pathogen that infects spider mites. If we have extended periods of these weather conditions, the pathogen can kill mites in 1 to 3 days. We can get compete control within a week’s time. So if growers haven’t already sprayed corn for mites, they might hold off until they find out what happens this week. It may save them some money on aerial application costs.” 


Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan: “Cotton is looking very good. Many growers have had timely rains and we’re well into squaring. I’m guessing from 25 to 33% of fields are setting bolls. Temperatures have moderated a little this week and have fallen below the 100-degree days we’ve had. That should help plants hold fruit retention.


“We’ve just about doubled the cotton acreage in Kansas this year and there are a lot of new growers who are still on a learning curve. They’re getting good information from their neighbors, Extension, consultants and seed dealers.


“Some corn yields may have been hurt during pollination last week from the hot dry conditions. The southern part of the state has fields at dent, but kernels are not set very deep. Some beans also lost blooms due to the heat.


“We know there may be some situations with herbicide drift. We’re encouraging growers to be careful with their weed control programs.”


Seth Byrd, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock: “We’ve seen some good rain in the past few days over much of the South Plains and more is in the forecast. The rain had perfect timing because the last time most fields got rain was on the July 4th weekend. A lot of fields are in peak bloom so they really needed that rain.  


“The majority of the South Plains crop is in good shape, with a few fields still needing some help. So far we’ve missed most of the insect issues that have plagued other places. We’ll miss a few heat units with these lower temperatures, but we’ll take it along with the moisture.”


Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan & Upton Counties: “We had to spray for bollworms at the end of last week. We started getting egg lay on thicker cotton and the worms fought down through bloom tags, similar to what they saw in South Texas and near the coast. The worms feed on the blooms and bloom tags until they get enough size to feed on the bolls.


“There have been a few aphids in some hot spots, mainly in locations where guys had treated for fleahoppers. The sprays knocked out beneficials, which are now coming back and helping with aphids.


"It’s cool today (8/1) and raining, which is good for our crops. All in all, cotton doesn’t look too bad. The irrigated looks good, with much of it at 7 to 8 NAWF and some as much as eleven. That’s a lot of yield potential. Some dryland has reached cutout with 4 nodes. This rain is at the perfect time. Some of the dryland was starting to wilt.


“Most fields remain free of major weed problems. A few guys did go with dicamba and Enlist varieties. They used them responsibly because I haven’t heard any complaints about drift. Hog potato is our biggest weed problem.


“Speaking of hogs, we’re seeing a few hot spots with feral hogs. They aren’t a problem so far, but rabbits and deer are a continuous pest. They come out at night and graze further into fields. Producers are having to drive around fields nightly to scare them off.”


Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “We’ve seen a dramatic change in weather in the past week – unseasonably cool temperatures and a lot of rain. Some pockets have received 2 to 3 inches in single events.  It has been pretty intense, although there hasn’t been any hail.


“These wet conditions are creating disease problems. I’ve seen some southwestern cotton rust pop up, and we’ll likely see some alternaria in pima. A lot of fungicide sprays are going out and are doing growers some good. But some fields that have not been sprayed have a lot of cotton rust.


“The cooler weather continues to help hold back heat stress. Since much cotton is at peak bloom, it helps a lot.”


Wayne McAlister, Crop Production Services, Portales, New Mexico: “We haven’t had a rain like this in a long time. Some places got from 4 to 8.5 inches in the last 36 hours (7/30 to 8/1). We’re now trying to get PGRs applied. Cotton looks good all in all, but it’s still behind. The crop is great looking for the first of July, but it’s the first of August.


“We’re not at peak bloom, other than in a few fields. A lot of small squares are still up top. NAWF depends on what part of the field you’re in. We’ll make a crop but I don’t know if will be a record breaker. We’ll need more heat, but we appreciate how the rain is helping.


“We haven’t had much of an insect problem, but we have had to spray for some mites in corn. That’s about it. We have a lot of dryland corn this year. The rain will finish it out. We needed the rain because many growers went with corn instead of dryland milo. The sugarcane aphid got everyone too scared to plant milo.” 


Irrigation pivot in field near Muleshoe, Texas.

Photo: Larry Stalcup


Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon: "Since many producers dry planted, much of the cotton is still very short. But most is still okay and plants are healthy. We need a good rain for the dryland crop. The irrigated looks good and some producers have put out PGRs.


“There are no bacterial blight issues so far, but it may come since some producers received rain and cooler temperatures. Weed control is good where producers put down yellow herbicides early and followed with a good herbicide program. But others are having a problem controlling weeds. I have seen some hoe hands out already.


“We’re seeing a little 2, 4-d drift damage, but it’s likely from area pastures being sprayed. Few producers planted the Enlist varieties in this Rolling Plains area. There have been a few stinkbugs but I haven’t seen any leaf damage. Producers are ahead of the game in insect control.”


Rex Brandon, Crop Production Services, Dumas, Texas: “We’re getting good timely rain. Before the rain, our dryland was still going to make something, but now we know yields should be better. Some irrigated cotton has 25 to 35 squares and we’re at peak bloom. The rain and cool weather will help us keep a lot of those squares. The dryland will also hold more squares.


“We’ve still been fortunate to not have any big insect pressure and we’ve had few weed escapes. With the rain, we’ll have to use PGRs to control growth. It will take off with all of the moisture.


“Corn is in great shape. We’re applying fungicide to head off diseases. Spider mite pressure is average and the rain will slow them down. Some corn is pollinating in the cooler weather. Farmers should be pretty happy.” 



AgFax News Links


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Weekly Cotton Market Review – USDA   7-28


Texas Field Reports: Beef Prices Decline as Supplies Increase 8-1


Texas Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphids Spread in Panhandle 7-31


Texas Rice: Blast Alert in Commercial Fields – 3 Management Tips 7-28


Texas West Plains: Crops Look Good, Limited Insect Presence 7-28


Kansas: Upcoming Water Conservation Field Days to Demonstrate New Ag Tech 

Kansas: No-Till Seeding School Set For August 9, Lorraine


Texas: 4 Upcoming Ag Leasing Workshops 


Celebrate Cotton Game, September 16 at 7 p.m. – Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Arizona State Sun Devils at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. Tickets are $35 with promo: COTTON17. Call Texas Tech Ticket Office at 806-742-TECH (8324) and ask for Cotton Game special pricing.




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