Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor
Special thanks to PhytoGen, the exclusive sponsor of AgFax Southwest Cotton.
Crop injury due to herbicide drift is sparking notice from the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Hot winds and high temps have been battering crops, especially where rain is so badly needed. Some coastal areas have remained dry for a solid 6 weeks. Oklahoma still needs a “planting rain” as well as parts of New Mexico.
Spider mites and stinkbugs are hot topics. Wireworms are bringing on replants in the South Plains.
Arizona growers are pulling out the shielded sprayers.
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Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “I’m in the Temple area today (6/12) and there are cracks in the ground because it’s so dry. But cotton is still holding up. It is just starting to bloom in the southern Blacklands. Later planted cotton is about a week out.
“Guys are optimistic because there’s a good chance of rain on Sunday or Monday and they may consider applying PGRs on more growthy varieties. In the southern Rolling Plains, some cotton has needed replanting due to wind damage.
“David Kerns, AgriLife IPM director, says there is some bollworm pressure in the Brazos Bottom. We’re also seeing a few mites and aphids. Most fields are pretty clean from weeds because of so little rain. But there’s still some resistant pigweed in areas where they’ve had a little rain.
“We’re still watching for off-target herbicide drift. The Texas Department of Agriculture is looking in some areas to determine if there are problems with herbicide volatilization or with application.”
Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: “Overall, the young crop looks quite good. We’ve had hit and miss rains. In most cases people have enough moisture to get going or keep going. Stands are not picture perfect, but most look good. Some guys are still planting today (6/11), while others have stands at 6 true leaves and just beginning to square.
“We’ve had some heavy thrips populations and several growers have had to spray. Some of the older cotton is far enough along that they’re growing out of the stage where thrips will hurt them. It’s still too early for fleahoppers but we’ll be monitoring for them as stands start to square.
“There are some issues with weeds. We’re hearing that some preemerge herbicides have not been working. It may be due to the chemistry or the lack of activation due to lack of rain. But, from what we’re seeing, pigweed seems to like Prowl.
“Our area is expanding more into northern Oklahoma in the Newkirk, Blackwell, Fairview and Perry areas, where we’re seeing a scattering of new growers. They have increased their cotton acres.”
Jaime Lopez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Frio County: “It’s hot and dry. We’re fixing to be over 100 again south of San Antonio. Since everything is under irrigation, that’s good for our cotton. We’re squaring and we’re not seeing much disease or insect pressure. I’ve had no calls, but we’ll be watching for fleahoppers since we are squaring.”
Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: “We’re bad dry around Waco, but the cotton is holding on and doing pretty good. We’re just about ready to start blooming. Plants are loaded with fruit and just need a drink of water. We’ve been close to 100 every day and there’s no rain in sight. Today (6/11), the wind was at 15 to 20 miles per hour, which doesn’t help at all.
“We’ve been fighting fleahoppers for about 2 weeks. We’ve hammered them pretty hard and have them in check. We’ve had a few weed escapes and will try to spray some Roundup resistant waterhemp that’s coming up – if the wind will let us.
“While the cotton looks good, the corn is burning up. A lot is being cut for silage. Corn in good heavy soil and planted early is holding on, but most looks bad. Milo is trying to head but there’s not much of a head there.
“On a good note, the wheat in central Texas was excellent – the best we’ve ever had. There has been a lot of 60 to 70-bushel wheat, unheard of yields for this country. The lack of rain is helping us finish wheat harvest earlier.”
Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus: “This is getting a little ridiculous. We need a planting rain and it’s June 9. That just shows where we are with some Oklahoma cotton. We’ve had some showers, but not enough to be beneficial.
“Those who planted in good conditions after May rains have gotten zero after that. Plants sprouted, germinated quickly, but dried out fast. Between that and the oppressive heat, we’ve been unable to get a stand in a lot of places. There will be a decent number of replants, but we are concerned about what type of seed will be available for replants.
“There is some good looking cotton in irrigated areas outside of Altus. But some guys still haven’t planted. This week (June 10) is Oklahoma’s last day for planting irrigated to receive insurance coverage. June 20 is the deadline for dryland. So dryland guys still have some time if we can get some rain.”
Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas: “It hasn’t rained in a month and a half and we’re extremely hot. Thankfully, we have a lot of irrigation water, so the crop looks pretty good. Most cotton is at early bloom.
“There’s not a lot of fleahopper pressure, but we’ve still been spraying to be safe. We’re having to spray for spider mites because it’s so hot and dry. We’re using the third generation Bt technologies, so we’re not too concerned about bollworms. But we’ll watch for pressure when we get into bloom. Egg lays have been light because it has been so dry.
“We’re also spraying for a lot of resistant pigweed. We’re using the Engenia technology and it is working for us.
“Field corn is on its last watering and looks like it will be an average yield. But sweet corn may be the best year ever, with 30% more yields than in previous years. With this heat, go figure.”
Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County/Portales: “Rain has been really spotty in parts of eastern New Mexico. Western and northern parts of the county have gotten a little, but most of the county is dry. A lot of dryland cotton is waiting on a rain to either get the crop up or to plant. Some seed may have died in the ground. There just wasn’t much soil moisture to help it.
“Some irrigated cotton looks like it’s off to a good start. I haven’t heard of any insect pressure. I speculate that with it being so dry, there hasn’t been enough other vegetation for thrips or other bugs to feed on.
“Weeds aren’t widespread, but we’re still seeing several fields where weeds are holding on with very little moisture. There has been a lot of haygrazer planted. Dairies are interested in looking at haygrazer silage this year as opposed to corn silage to try and save money.”
Kate Harrell, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Jackson, Wharton & Matagorda Counties: “We’ve had scattered showers and rain is in the forecast for Thursday (6/14) through Saturday. That would be nice. If we don’t get rain, cotton is going to cutout early. The irrigated is at 8 NAWF. Dryland is 6 to 7 if it’s flowering.
“We’ve been watching fleahoppers in the smaller stuff. A few stinkbugs are also showing up, both green and brown. We’re watching to see if we need to spray. We’re also watching for bollworms. I saw a few small caterpillars this week but we’re still not seeing any trouble.
“I had to pull corn ears for a test in some refuge corn last week. Out of 400 ears, I found about 150 worms. That’s less than normal. I’m picking up moths in traps. The highest count I had was 52 moths in a trap after a week. That was in a location with corn on 3 sides of the cotton. We’ll know at the end of week if there’s more pressure to worry about.
“Weeds are mostly under control and the new technologies are working nicely. There have been some off-target situations and officials from the Texas Department of Agriculture are making some site visits. Most guys are doing things correctly, but we need to keep an eye on every little thing and follow the label closely on the new technologies.”
Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Terry, Yoakum & Gaines Counties: “Cotton is hit or miss, depending on how well it has been irrigated and been able to keep up with the high ET we’ve seen with temperatures at nearly 100 degrees-or-plus the last 14 days. Most cotton is in the 3 to 4-leaf stage. We’re not seeing any squaring yet. Hopefully, weather in the mid-90s will help plants recover more after the hot temps and high winds.
“Not a whole lot of dryland has come up. Stands are very skippy. We think we’re seeing some post emergence damping off because the soil is getting so hot that it’s drying out the plants. Stands are more uniform where we have a wheat cover crop. That helped to keep the soil a little cooler and prevent some damage. I expect to see more fields with a cover crop next year.
“We did get rain in the range of 1.5 to 0.5 inches at the end of May. That helped some, but may have added to weakened plants when it was followed by the hot, windy weather. That rain brought out a flush of weeds. Hopefully some guys are optimistic enough to run a residual in their tank mix so we can get a little longer weed control.
“We’re still seeing wireworm damage in cotton and some places needed replanting. Thrips aren’t an issue but some are still present. The damage from high heat and wind mimics thrips damage. It burns the leaf tissue.
“Peanuts are progressing very well. With the weather we’ve had, we may see more peanuts planted into a cover crop next year.”
Jim Johnson, Independent Crop Consultant, Corpus Christi, Texas/Coastal Bend: “We’re praying for rain that’s in the forecast for later this week after going 6 weeks without any. Some guys are so confident that they’re putting out Pix because they’re sure we’ll get a good rain. I hope they’re right. A lot of fields are still hanging in there but they need the moisture. However, some fields are hitting the wall and starting to lose fruit. If rain comes it may save a lot of fields.
“We have the usual insect culprits. There are a few bollworms in the blooms and a lot of spider mites, which is rare in our area. But they like it hot and dry. There are also some stinkbugs. We’re spraying for stinkbugs and spider mites in one application and it seems like it’s working.
“We need the rain to make it all work. We certainly don’t need another hurricane. We lost a lot of 3-bale cotton to Harvey last year. But right now, a 2-inch rain will be worth millions to this area.”
Tim Ballinger, Ballinger Innovative Agronomics, Dumas, Texas: “I’m headed to the Spearman area this morning (6/12). They’ve had a lot more rain than other areas in the northern Panhandle. But we have a good chance of rain tonight in much of the area.
“The cotton I watch is at 5 to 6 leaves across the board. With the hot weather, we’re just now trying to get some irrigation on it. Most of that water is shared with corn under a pivot. With the high temperatures and wind, it has been needed more for corn.
“We’re seeing some off-target herbicide drift . I'm seeing 2, 4-D and dicamba injury due to the new seed traits many growers are using. Some Enlist or dicamba fields are not matching up to what’s being sprayed around them.
“With the winds and heat, I feel there can be more drift issues due to volatilization even several days after a field is sprayed. A lot of guys up here are set up to apply Liberty the first trip, then come back with the technology if they want. But they’ll need to make sure their spray rigs are cleaned out thoroughly and strictly follow the label. If the drift situations continue, we could see the Texas Department of Agriculture get involved in checking fields.
“We’re looking at some post applications to handle grasses and volunteer corn. We have Roundup resistant Johnsongrass that has developed on fields that were continuous corn for a long time.
“For insects, we are past the thrips situation and are monitoring for lygus and fleahoppers that could move to cotton from wheat that’s being harvested.
“Our corn is really taking off. I bet it grew 12 inches this past week. We’re at 8 to 10 leaves and trying to stay ahead of the heat with plenty of irrigation. The corn is using about 1.25 inches of water per day.”
Alan Seitz, Crop Production Services, Wilcox, Arizona: “Our biggest issue is with tough-to-control weeds like morning glory so we’re using shielded sprayers to apply Treflan, Prowl and others to handle it. We’re applying the various herbicides with shielded sprayers where fields have already been sprayed with Roundup.
“We’re seeing a lot of thrips activity but not having to spray. We’re cutting a lot of hay so we’re monitoring closely for lygus that may move out of hay to cotton that’s at pinhead square.
“All of our replant is finished and we have good stands everywhere. It has been hot and humid, which means good growth under irrigation. We had some spotty showers last weekend and some places got 1 inch of rain.”
Photo: Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Cotton
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