Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor


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

Subscribe to our FREE e-news crop reports. 



It’s handwringing time. Making final planting decisions and/or herbicide spraying in the face of dry winds and little or no rain is weighing on growers.


Those who can, have planters going at full throttle –  even where there’s still no rain. Dusting-in dryland follows slow emergence. Preplant irrigation hit 5 inches in some areas. There are blooms in the Coastal Bend cotton but no rain for 50 days, reports Justin Chopelas.


Wireworm worries linger in Panhandle/South Plains fields. Other insects are quiet as beneficials helped tame aphids on the Coastal Bend. Still, thrips and fleahoppers remain in the picture, as do spider mites.


USDA has extended the deadline to May 31 for Cotton Ginning Cost Share program signup.


Scroll down to read headlines: cotton market commentary, field information and meetings.   




Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “Overall, heat during the past week is bringing cotton out of the ground. Some guys were concerned about a slow emergence, but it looks a lot better. Dry weather is causing some concern in the southern Blacklands and farther north.


“There are reports of spider mites in the southern Blacklands. Also, excessive wind is preventing some growers from getting into fields to spray for weeds, especially with new technologies and their concerns about off-target movement.


“In the northern Rolling Plains, some growers started planting irrigated cotton last week. Dryland guys are waiting on a rain before they do much of anything. The southern Rolling Plains started planting last week. They’ve had a little rain to help them out.” 


Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale, Floyd & Swisher Counties: “I’m a little hot and tired after finally getting some planting done today (5/14). We’re still dry and windy. Conditions are stacked against us to get a good start. Producers are mostly planting dry and running pivots afterward to get the crop up. We’re having a hard time getting the subsurface drip-irrigated fields started and up to a stand. Dryland is up in the air, but there are some popcorn showers around today and we hope they come gently and help us out.


“Wireworms are still on our radar. We found some on stuff planted a little early in no-till situations. Some early stands were taken out, but the damage has faded. However, since wireworms are out there, guys need to check for damage 4 to 8 days after planting and be ready to replant if needed. They can be bad enough to take out a stand.


“We have some sorghum and corn up and they’re looking good. But those crops are also feeling the environment. Everything needs the rain.”


Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: "Last week, we saw quite a bit of cotton planted mid-week, and some cotton is up. That’s in the south central part of Kansas and a little west. There’s also some cotton up in northern Oklahoma. Growers are wondering if they should plant or wait for a rain that’s in the forecast for early this week.


“Our planting intentions are way up. But depending on the weather, these next 3 weeks will decide everything on whether it’s cotton or other crops that are planted.”


Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County: “We were looking good in our south Texas area until the last couple of weeks. It has turned dry. Nearly all of our cotton is under irrigation, but we need the rain.


“Still the crop is coming along well. It is at about the 4 to 6-leaf stage. I’ve had no reports of disease pressures and I haven’t heard of any insect problems. Weed control also looks good.” 


Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Terry, Yoakum & Gaines Counties: “We’re slowly starting. A lot of guys finished planting peanuts the last 5 to 7 days and switched planters over to cotton. They’re starting to roll on irrigated acres. Some pre-watered to get the crop up. I know one person who put out 5 inches of pre-water.


“Many guys are holding off to see if they get a rain. We’ve had 2 inches since October of last year, so we’re way behind. When rain does come, some are worried whether they can cover enough acres fast enough with their planter capacity.


“For guys who are just now planting, we need to be on the lookout for wireworms. I’ll be checking for wireworms behind some planters today (5/15) and tomorrow. They can be devastating on seedlings. In peanuts they will even feed on the pods.”



Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan, Upton Counties: "We’re terribly dry -- the bad thing is, this is the most pessimistic I’ve seen guys in quite some time. We need the rain. So many guys are on drip irrigation and having a difficult time getting water to the surface. Those on 80-inch spacings can’t get the water to spread. Some guys are thinking about just shutting off their irrigation and planting as dryland.


“There have been a few who already planted and had good water on 40-in drip tapes, but they still have moisture problems with no rain. These are guys who normally make 4-bale cotton. We have a couple of blocks that are up. Some drip cotton planted in April is up to 2-leaf. But overall, things are really questionable. We need a good, general rain. Showers are forecast for Sunday (5/20) or Monday. We hope that happens. We just don’t want a repeat of the 2011 drought.” 


Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “I’d say 90 to 95% of the crop is in the ground. I’ll be planting a couple of late trials in the next few days. For the most part, things are looking good. There have been some seedling disease issues with Rhizoctonia after the cold snaps we saw in mid to late April. Some fields needed replanting.


“I’ve seen a few spider mite issues and a few treatments were needed. It’s not widespread. There has been some thrips injury and we’ve seen some gnarled-up leaves. But we typically don’t treat for thrips.


“Cotton is well along out at Yuma. Some stuff is going into bloom. I’ll be there Thursday (5/17) to check some plots.” 


Kyle Aljoe, Crop Quest Consulting, Dimmitt, Texas: “A couple of fields finally got some rain last night (5/14) between Earth and Amherst. There was also a little hail, but not enough to damage some small corn that’s up.


“My irrigated guys are about finished planting cotton and most is just coming up this week. With the warm temperatures for May, it’s coming up better than in the past. The problem is just trying to keep it wet enough. They’ll need to watch for thrips because they’re out there.


“The dryland guys are holding off to see what happens. They need that good rain.”


Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater and Altus: “We had some hit and miss rain yesterday (5/14). But a lot of areas that needed rain missed it. North of Altus got a little rain, but south of Altus didn’t receive much at all.


“Some folks with wet soil planted into marginal conditions last week. They had to knock off part of the beds. Then they had 5 days of temperatures in the high 90s and a few days of high winds. That moisture went away. They were banking on rain to come through. So there is some concern on those fields that were planted in wet conditions and had no help to get the crop up. With that, and guys waiting on a rain before they plant, it’s pick your poison at this point.


“Some northern guys have planted and more are hoping to plant soon. We need to get the northern cotton in the ground as early as we can to capitalize on the heat units.” 



Justin Chopelas, JWC Consulting, Odem, Texas/Coastal Bend: “Most of the cotton I check is 13 to 14 total nodes. It’s blooming and about 10% of the acres are blooming at 9 NAWF. However, we’re 60 days into the crop and it has been 50 days since our last real rain. We have 36 to 40 days from the time we bloom until it is legit. So we’re in a critical growth period and need some moisture.


“Fleahopper pressure has been light. We had a few aphids that were a little tough, but beneficials built up quickly to help clear them out.


“Acres closer to the coast where Hurricane Harvey hit had good moisture for planting and the crop looks good. But the farther west you go the worse it is for all crops. Grain crops are teetering on the edge of nothing. The corn crop is toast after no rain and horrible pollination. Some sorghum varieties are looking better than others.


“Overall, we’re holding our own in cotton. There is a chance of rain about June 1. We still have 1,000-pound potential if we get a good rain. We just have to rely on Mother Nature.” 


Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County, Portales: “Some guys have planted cotton despite the lack of rainfall in eastern New Mexico. Guys have penciled in that they can pull some profit from cotton. But there is absolutely no moisture to get it up.

We are miserably dry. I’ve had 0.6 of an inch since October 7. There are a couple of spots where a spotty shower helped recently. But that was nearly a freak situation. A lot of guys are not sure what they’ll do.” 


Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo: “Our irrigated acreage is ahead of schedule. Due to warm temperatures and warm soils, producers are trying to get cotton planted as soon as possible to get their sprinklers going. On dryland, it is a split bag. Some are dusting-in seed into dry soil waiting on rain. Others are just waiting on rain before they plant.


“I’m headed to plant some trials west of Dumas this afternoon (5/15). We have 9 trials across the Panhandle to look at early and mid-maturing varieties. There are both dryland and irrigated trials. This year is really going to push them on how well they perform under limited irrigation conditions.


“We have some Kochia, Russian thistle and other early season weeds, but not as much as last year when we had wet conditions. For producers trying to get down residual herbicides, the dry weather doesn’t help in getting those residuals incorporated. Also, many producers plant wheat as a cover ahead of cotton. To qualify as a cover, they need to terminate it prior to heading. But some have had a hard time terminating where it has been especially dry and windy.”


©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography News Links  

Shurley on Cotton: Exports, Production Uncertainty Should Offer Price Support   


Cleveland on Cotton: Seemingly Bullish USDA Report Turns Sour   


Rose on Cotton: WASDE Projection is ‘Overly Optimistic’   


Crop Insurance: Premium Subsidy and Insured U.S. Acres – Impact by Crop   


Texas LRGV Cotton, Sorghum: Dryland – Drought; Fleahoppers 


Texas Upper Coast Cotton: Fleahoppers, Spider Mites Picking Up 


Texas: Viticulture Short Course, Bryan, June 4-5 


Texas Cotton: Wireworms are Tough Customers 


Texas: Ranch Cattle Sorting School, Competition, Mercedes, May 19



Grains | Cotton | Peanuts


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.

Subscription questions? Contact Laurie Courtney.

Subscribe here.