Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor


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



“It’s a rarity to see weedy fields,” reports Wayne Keeling. John David Gonzales agrees - weeds have been a “non-problem” this season.


Garden webworms love pigweed. That’s the good news. The bad news – they may still stop, build a web and have lunch in your cotton field.


Cotton crop moving backwards?  Gaylon Morgan says extreme heat will make it happen.


Kansas cotton is loaded up and open bolls are expected shortly.


Lack of rain has taken out dryland acres in Oklahoma. The weather is also responsible for barren fields north of Big Springs, Texas. 


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Alan Seitz, Crop Production Services, Wilcox, Arizona: “We’ve caught a break from the intense heat and dropped to the low 90s. We’re at a higher elevation of 4,300 feet in southeast Arizona so the heat is not as bad as in Tucson or Phoenix. We also got from 0.4” to 2 inches of rain in the past two weeks. That was good for the cotton – a real blessing. But there have been some humid nights as a result of the monsoons.


“We have such a good fruit load that plants are kicking off some squares. That’s a nice problem to have when square loss doesn’t hurt the cotton.


“A little southwestern cotton rust has shown up in the last 10 days. We made some early preventative sprays but still have to monitor the situation. A few stink bugs are here and there, but nothing else has been major insect-wise. We had to spray for lygus when guys were cutting hay and there have been a few mites.


“Weed control remains decent. There are more and more resistant pigweed starting to show up in fields where we’ve never seen it. We’re using some of the new technologies and have made some shielded sprayer applications of Aim and other herbicides.”


John David Gonzales, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Bailey, Parmer & Castro Counties: “Everything is hanging on. We’ve had a few rains the last few weeks, including 2” over last week. Guys with irrigation water are really putting it to it and the rain really helped the cotton.


“The growth stage varies. Later planted cotton is at 10 to 11 true leaves with a few flowers at the bottom. Some older cotton in Castro County was at near cutout last week. The rains will push the plants along a little further. They will probably be at 7 to 8 NAWF this week.


“Fruit retention has been impressive. Plants are hanging on to bottom fruit. Insect pressure has not been a big issue. There are weeds in spotty situations where we’ve had more rain. Most guys have put down their second herbicide and applied residuals as well. They have been timely with their applications and making weeds a non-problem.


“We’re finding that disease is light everywhere, due to lack of moisture. It takes a rain to get it going. Also, guys who know they have fields with disease potential selected varieties that are more tolerant to verticillium wilt and other diseases.” 


Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County Portales: “We’ve been fortunate that a few places have received some moisture. It has been hit or miss, but some cotton did get rain. Some irrigated looks really good with blooms. However, since we’ve been so dry all growing season, some limited-irrigated looks tough.


“The clean fields I’m seeing mean that our growers have done a good job controlling weeds. Things are in a little better shape than I thought.


“Growers need to scout their fields for sugarcane aphids in sorghum and potential cotton insects. We hope growers receive some moisture to perk up their spirits during this extended dry period we’ve had.”


Mid season cotton field - Plainview, Texas

Photo: Larry Stalcup, AgFax Media


Wayne Keeling, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Weed Specialist, Lubbock: “While a few areas got some rain, overall it’s still just a small shower here and there. Rain seems to have missed everyone on a consistent basis.


“The dry weather has slowed the weeds down, and I’ve been impressed with what a good job most people have done in their weed control program. It’s a rarity to see weedy fields. Guys have used residuals effectively, as well as the new post technologies.


“As irrigation continues in some fields, it provides the potential to generate weeds. But it helps that we are seeing canopies that will slow down weed growth. However, guys still need to control late season flushes and prevent weed seed from hurting production next year.


“The other good news is there have been very few reports of off-target problems compared to other growing areas with lots of soybeans. With the large number of acres that have been treated with new technologies, the lack of problems show that growers  have done a good job of following the labels. They have done the right thing.”


Kerry Siders, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hockley, Cochran & Lamb Counties: “What cotton we have looks good even after so much dry, hot weather. Plants are about 6 NAWF, which is a good place to be heading into August. When we hit 5 NAWF we’re at physiological cutout and it’s inevitable that plants will bloom out the top.


“We would like cutout to hit next week – about August 5. With that date, the trajectory of growth pattern would have plants set the last bloom about August 20. It also would give us a good chance of the last bloom turning into a harvestable boll.


“We have some fields at 2 to 3 NAWF and blooming out the top. That’s a little early. But plants should have very good maturity even though they haven’t been able to take advantage of yield potential, which reflects the lack of moisture to keep it going.


“We’ve had a little rain, but many producers are still concerned about the lack of irrigation to make a crop. I’m working with one this week to determine if he should stop watering and not keep the crop. There just isn’t enough groundwater still available. That’s tough to do when you have a half to two-thirds of a season already into the crop.  



“Overall, we’ve done fairly well keeping up with irrigation demands. But if we have any more really hot weather, it will make it that much more difficult to make the crop in our limited irrigation area. We don’t have as much water as we did 5 to 10 years ago. It’s half of what it was 25 years ago when I started here.


“Insect-wise, it’s fairly quiet. We had a few scares with garden webworms attracted to pigweed. They’re similar to beet armyworms, but build a web around the area where they’re feeding. With guys plowing out weeds or applying chemicals to treat weeds, it forces the webworms out and on to cotton plants. A few fields have already been sprayed.


“Also, I talked to our scouts today (7/30). They’re finding bollworms for the first time. It’s on some conventional cotton so it’s not really unusual. But we will likely see an increase in bollworm activity in the next few weeks. Producers need to check non-Bt as well as Bt varieties to make sure the technology is holding up.


“Beneficials have helped clean up some cotton aphids in the past 2 weeks. We had good numbers of ladybugs and other beneficials. You could say the aphids were walking into a buzz saw. But we still have to scout these fields to make spray decisions when beneficials don’t do the job.


“I want to remind producers that July was important for square set – but we make cotton in August, as far as setting and keeping bolls and developing lint. So it’s important not to drop the ball.”


Katelyn Kesheimer, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Lubbock & Crosby Counties: “There’s a chance of rain early this week and we can sure use it because we’re mostly in peak bloom. The cotton looks good and is using a lot of water.


“We’ve seen a lot of worm activity pick up in the past week, so growers need to get out and check their fields. In Crosby County, we’re seeing bollworms, beat armyworms, yellow striped armyworms and garden webworms. That webworm is typical in pigweed, which it defoliates. But then it can move into cotton.


“If fields are planted in non-Bt or older-generations of Bt, they really need to be scouted. I’m not saying we will see yield loss from bollworms, but if we get a big flight, worms can overwhelm some of the technologies.


“I’ve seen some conchuela stink bugs near Seminole and also in Lubbock and Lynn counties on sorghum. They are black with a red dot and can feed on young cotton bolls. Fall armyworms are in sorghum and I’ve seen some whorl feeding. We also need to be looking for head worms. Sugarcane aphids are around, but not at threshold.” 


Conchuela Stink Bug - Otero County, New Mexico.
Photo: Bob Barber, Creative Commons

John Ellis, Crop Production Services, Southwestern Oklahoma: “Some irrigated cotton caught rain and it sure helped growers keep up with watering after we saw up to 116-degree temperatures a couple of weeks ago. That cotton is loaded up really nice and looks good. We just need to maintain water to handle any severe heat in August.


“There is some dryland in pockets that has a heavy fruit load and is at peak bloom. It caught 0.5” to 1.5 inches of rain in parts of Tillman County and Kiowa County. There is potential there to make cotton, but the overall dryland picture is bleak. Only about 20 to 35% of dryland is left after the dry weather. Cotton planted late still has some hope and may scratch out a bale if August gives us more rain and we have an open fall.


“Insects have been light. We’re starting to see a few stink bugs developing, especially around pasture land. The bollworm egg lay that came through recently didn’t develop in this area. Heat had a lot to do with that.


“There are no bad weed flushes, but there is some spot spraying in some fields.”    


Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon: "We finally received some good rain on the Rolling Plains, which was welcomed after we saw temperatures of 106 or higher around Vernon over a week ago. Hopefully the rain will help the little dryland cotton we have left after the hot, dry weather.


“The irrigated looks much better, but I still think its yield potential will be down because we have limited water.


“We’ve had good insect control and weeds have not been too bad with the dry weather. But producers still need to watch them because if we get weed flushes, they use a lot of moisture.” 


Tim Ballinger, Ballinger Innovative Agronomics, Dumas, Texas: “Cotton is still hanging on with good height and color. I love the square set and we're holding retention.


“We’re mostly mid to full bloom and heading into peak water usage in the next few weeks. The crop will be using 0.30” a day, more than 2 inches in a week, so some extra rainfall would be very helpful. We received 0.50” in Dumas last night (7/29), but Dalhart missed out the past week. We’ll be looking for that ‘XIT rain’ that always seems to accompany the big reunion and barbecue in Dalhart this coming weekend.


“There have been few issues with plant bugs or earworms. However, corn is hardening,  so earworms could move out and into cotton in the next week or two. There are a few backdoor weeds that we’re trying to get cleaned up before peak bloom. But overall weed control has been good. I went with all LibertyLink and it is paying off.”



Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “The extreme heat in the past 2 weeks turned our Blacklands cotton around – it went backwards. We thought we would see moderate yields, but we’ll probably have below average yields. Boll opening has advanced and harvest aids will probably start going out later this week on the dryland. The irrigated in the Brazos Bottom is holding up, but will also see some impact from the heat stress.


“I made rounds in the Rolling Plains last week. The dryland didn’t catch a rain in the southern Rolling Plains. If they don’t get rain soon a lot will be zeroed out. Their pivot irrigated crop was having problems keeping up with water needs. The drip irrigated looks pretty good.


“North toward the Big Spring area all the way up to Lamesa is just bare fields. Further east in Jones and Fisher counties, there’s very little cotton left. In Haskell and Knox counties, the dryland is there, but needs a rain soon. That area’s irrigated was also having problems keeping up with enough water.


“In the Upper Gulf Coast, growers have started defoliating earlier fields.”


Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan & Upton Counties: "We finally got a little shower last night. I visited a co-op meeting this morning (7/31) and guys said they received 0.3” to 1.2 inches over in the St. Lawrence area. Overall, it was more in 0.3” to 0.6 of an inch range. Between the rain and cooler temperature, it was very well received.


“We lost probably 85% of our cotton to drought. Considering what cotton we have left, it is doing very well. Since we didn’t get the irrigated up when we wanted, the delay meant we have more water per acre, which helps now.


“We keep expecting a fruit shed any day now, but the cooler temperatures should help reduce it. Yields may actually be up per acre for the cotton we have remaining. The Garden City area looks good, but cotton in the St. Lawrence and Midkiff areas is not as good.


“Insect pressure has been fairly light, but we’re starting to see stink bugs move in. We’re treating some fields along pastures where there are heavier populations. Fields that normally see bollworm pressure are starting to see worms, but we’re not having to treat so far.”


Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield: "We have received some good rain and a lot of cotton is 2 weeks ahead of this time last year. Some is blooming out the top. We have some early stuff that may be harvested in September, which is very unusual for up here. We also have some really young stuff that may face a challenge to finish well. But overall, we’re excited to see cotton loaded with large bolls already. We could see our first open bolls any day now.


“I’m still getting calls about PGRs. Some of the younger stuff still needs it. And cotton that’s blooming out the top may need more PGR if it turns cool and wet. This week has been in the 80s, but we’ll be back in the 90s next week. We need the heat to finish up the crop. We can’t afford to turn cool and wet too early.


“The tarnished plant bug situation has cooled down quite a bit, but I’m concerned about stink bugs. We need to scout closely for them. One consultant told me he has found bollworms, but nearly all have been dead.


“Weeds are a mixed bag. They are mostly under control even if we’re not able to make them all go away. I haven’t seen any train wrecks for a while.


“We’re looking forward to finishing this crop, and since it’s good enough already, we may be looking for custom harvesters. We’re still a long way off, but if it keeps on going, we’re going to have 2-bale dryland cotton – and that might be under shooting it.”


AgFax.COM News Links


Rose on Cotton: Summer Doldrums – Be Patient   7-27


New Mexico: Luna County Designated Natural Disaster Area from Drought 7-31


Texas: 11 Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas from Drought   7-31


Texas Field Reports: Pest Numbers Climbing in South Plains, Panhandle 7-31


Texas Panhandle: Bt Corn – What’s Up With All the Corn Earworms? 7-26


Oklahoma Cotton: 2018 Drought; Resistant Bollworm Horror 7-27


Oklahoma Sorghum: False Chinch Bugs and Headworms 7-26


Seed Cotton Program Election Period Opens   7-30


Cotton Picking by Robots? It’s in the Works – DTN   7-31


Landowner Liability – Do You Have a Silver Bullet? Probably Not. 7-31


West Texas: 7 Seed Cotton Program Sign-Up Workshops in Aug. 


Texas: Wild Hog Workshop in Seguin, August 10 


Texas: Big Country Wheat Conference, Abilene, Aug. 23 



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