Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor

Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor


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



Do I water the cotton or the peanuts? Tyler Mays reports that some growers may have to make a choice. 


Bollworm pockets are here and there, a few in pima.


Irrigated cotton is vacuuming up stink bugs around Waco. “It is the only green thing left in the countryside…”, says Mark Nemec.


Coastal Bend growers are pushing to wrap up this season with nearly 70% of acres harvested.


Celebrate Cotton Game is Saturday, September 15 - Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Houston Cougars at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. Click here for tickets, promo code COTTON18.  


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Ed Bynum, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Amarillo: “There are a few fields that have seen bollworm infestations. Those that are non-Bt cotton likely have been sprayed. Even though we’re approaching the middle of August, it’s still going to be a while before all the cotton is far enough along that it won’t be damaged by bollworms. We still need to scout fields for them and watch for earworms that have been cycling out of early planted corn. They may be entering cotton fields or later planted corn.


“We’ve had an increase in spider mite activity in corn. Whether fields have been sprayed, depends on growth stage. If corn is fully dented, spider mites typically don’t cause any more damage to the yield. If corn is starting to dent, we may not need to make an application. A consultant told me he noticed that spider mites were beginning to go into diapause, which means they will not cause any damage.


“We need to be scouting sorghum for potential headworm damage. It’s just like scouting for bollworms in cotton when earworms are leaving corn. We still have some sugarcane aphids in sorghum.


“When considering whether to spray, be sure to scout for predators which can help control insects. We may save an application of miticide or other insecticide.”


Todd Baughman, Oklahoma State University Institute for Agricultural Biosciences, Research Professor, Ardmore: “Part of the cotton got a break with a little rain the last week or so. Unfortunately, temperatures in the high 90s made it look like that rain came and went. A lot of dryland has been disastered out and additional dryland acres will be added to that list because it couldn’t handle the dry, hot weather.


“The irrigated looks good, but the biggest thing is whether the wells will hold up. If they can, growers will be in good shape. If not and we don’t get any rain, some irrigated cotton will be a loss. Those farms in the irrigation district around Altus are also getting a little concerned about the availability of water. We had to do a lot of preplant irrigation because we didn’t have a good profile. That and the hot, dry summer made us use more water than normal.


“We’re not seeing a lot of problems from major insects, so that’s good.


“As for peanuts, those growers are facing the same situation as we have in cotton. They’re wondering if the water will hold up. The 110+ temperatures we had in July set peanuts back worse than other crops. Peanuts need some humidity to set flowers in the canopy and there wasn’t much in the hot spell. We could see a little less yield, but we’ve had that before and managed a good crop.”


Stephen Biles, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Victoria, Calhoun & Refugio Counties: “We have a lot of folks defoliating and a few pickers are running. We’re pretty much finished except for the latest planted cotton. Everything is beyond insect problems at the moment.


“I feel it’s going to be an average crop. Some of the later rains we received were beneficial, but overall it’s a mixed bag.”


Kyle Aljoe, Crop Quest Consulting, Dimmitt, Texas: “Cotton looks pretty good and is anywhere from 2 to 5 NAWF, depending on where we have sufficient irrigation water. It’s loading up with bolls. The recent half-inch rain helped the cotton with limited irrigation capacity.


“Insect problems are low right now in cotton. I did find a trace of armyworms and beet armyworms in non-Bt cotton and we’ve been kicking out moths for about 2 weeks. We’ve also seen some verticillium wilt, but it isn’t bad, so far.


“Our forage sorghum is getting hammered with armyworms and we’re having to spray. There are also a few sugarcane aphids that have needed spraying. They haven’t blown up on us, but in thicker forage you have to go after them. All that spraying is expensive.”



Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan, Kansas: “The crop is moving right along and growers keep getting some moisture in parts of western and central Kansas. The crop is well ahead in some boll setting. We’re at 40 to 50% in setting bolls, but I don’t think we have any bolls open yet.  


“Insect issues have been light. There may be a little bollworm or lygus activity, but nothing big at all. There are a few stink bugs but not very many, and few treatments - that I know of for cotton insects. Thankfully, guys have had really good results with weed control. They’ve been on top of the newer technologies.


“Unless they’re irrigated, corn and beans are suffering after the hot summer. There’s a little corn silage cutting in some areas. Some beans are seeing a little charcoal rot near fencerows or in poorer soil. There have been some minor dicamba drift issues in beans.


“Our hay crop is short. We’re on our third and fourth alfalfa cuttings and yields are short forage-wise. Last year we sent our reserves to places that needed hay, so we’re worried about reserves for the coming winter. Prairie hay and brome hay are at 60 to 70% of normal.”


Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Terry, Yoakum & Gaines Counties: “What cotton we have looks really good. We’re ahead on heat units, but behind on rain. That explains why we’re seeing some fields at cutout, 5 NAWF. Some other cotton is at 7 NAWF, so we’re ahead of where we want to be with 3.5 weeks left for effective blooming. The hot, dry weather 2 weeks ago caused a little square shed.


“We’re trying to keep up with water demand. A few wells need to be flow-checked because guys feel they’re running out of water while others are seeing sand issues. They may need to evaluate whether they want to still make a good cotton crop or a good peanut crop and whether they have water for one or the other. Some may back off watering to have more available for next year.


“Insect pressure still remains fairly calm. There are a few bollworms in non-Bt cotton. But we still need to keep an eye on Bt varieties in case we see any worms that make it through. We’ll need to take care of them before they get down into the canopy.


“I’ve seen a few spider mites in Yoakum County. We’re still spot-treating them in that area to stay ahead. I’m surprised we’re not seeing them in peanuts. Grasshoppers are also in the area. When cotton and peanuts are the only plant tissue around, grasshoppers have to go somewhere. But we haven’t seen enough to justify spraying.


“We’re seeing a few disease issues. There’s a little vert showing up. As we get later into August, we’ll probably see more vert pressure. Southwestern cotton rust has also shown up the last 2 weeks. It’s not a big issue yet – as long as we don’t see a lot of lesions on the leaves.”


Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma: “Our irrigated looks like it will make a good crop. Some of it has the potential to make 3.5 to 4-bale cotton, if the water holds up. It is mostly 5 to 6 NAWF. If growers are short on water, that cotton will cutout in a week or two. If there is plenty of water left, we need to regulate the growth with PGRs. We have a big fruit load and have not had much of a shed so far. But that will begin soon with the high fruit load.


“Insects are becoming an issue. We’re seeing the conchuela stink bugs with the red racing stripe in southwestern Oklahoma and there are a few south of the Red River in Hardeman County, Texas. We’re seeing mainly greens and browns in this area in the southeastern Panhandle. The bollworm miller moth flight is not a runaway, but there are fields where there is heavy pressure. I’m seeing live worms in the fruit that either escaped the Bollgard 2 protein or they are resistant. We’re acting like they’re resistant and going ahead and spraying.


“We've got about 30 days left to make the crop. We need to catch the bug issues and control plant growth to get it ready to mature and finish strong. And we need the irrigation water to hold up.


“Peanuts are in their second peg and pod set, and have a big nice load. Some fields have not quite lapped the middles. I’m not hearing of many leaf spot issues because of the hot weather. But with the canopy filling in and the humidity, we could see more.”


Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “We have some issues from cotton that suffered level 2 heat stress from the 8 to 9 straight days we had 110+ temperatures. We’re seeing some loss of bolls – 1 to 3-day-old bolls laying on the ground.


“There are also some issues with bollworms. We’re seeing them in the pima, which is non-Bt and in some Bollgard 2 varieties. Guys need to be looking out for it. It’s not widespread but there are some pockets where bollworms are breaking through 2-gene cotton. I haven’t seen anything on 3-gene cotton.


“Guys are staying on top of insects and we’ve had few treatments for lygus and whiteflies. We haven’t seen much heavy southwest cotton rust this year like we had last year. Growers are being much more proactive spraying fungicides ahead of time to prevent southwest rust.


“We are seeing a little root rot, but it’s less of a problem every year. A lot of guys are using Topguard, which is working. As usual, we’re seeing a little vert, which isn’t unexpected this time of year.”  



Justin Chopelas, JWC Consulting, Odem, Texas/Coastal Bend: “The overall Coastal Bend is probably 65 to 70% finished with harvest. That’s after a hard, difficult season. It started with early drought, then 15 to 20 inches of rain in the middle, then hot again. Yields completely depend on the planting dates. The early-planted cotton is making 1 bale or less. The mid-season is making about 750 pounds and the late planted is making about 1,000 pounds.


“Happily, cotton that looked like it would make nothing is making a bale. Those July rains made the crop for us.


“Insects weren’t too bad. We didn’t have much of a stink bug run. Since it was so dry, bollworm problems were low. But after those heavy rains, we did have a big weed outbreak and needed to apply a lot of herbicide.


“We’re seeing fiber quality that’s also following a seasonal pattern. Early cotton quality is less spectacular. But as we progress through, the grades should get back to normal and we’ll have good quality.”


Chris Locke, CSL Consulting Inc., Sudan, Texas/Eastern New Mexico: “Things are moving along fast. Cotton is anywhere from 4 to 6 NAWF and some of that is cutting out. It looks really good where we have good water. I’m expecting some 3.5 to 4-bale cotton. In light water areas   300 gallons per minute or less   we’re hoping for yields in the 800 to 1,000-pound range. There is virtually no dryland, just a few patches that got some rain.


“I’m starting to see some bollworm millers move through. I have one non-Bt field that we’ll need to watch. Most all of the cotton I watch is 3-gene with the new dicamba technology.


“So far we’ve had good weed control. There were problems with pre-emerges because it was too dry to get that herbicide incorporated. But post applications are working well.


“There are a few disease situations. I’ve seen a little alternaria leaf spot in the Lazbuddie area. It has been a while since I’ve seen that disease in cotton around here. There’s also a little vert in low spots where fields get a little more water.


“My corn is all silage. We’re shutting water off this week and will start harvest about the 20th. Quite a few guys have some hay grazer going on dryland fields where cotton has failed. Whether they will harvest anything depends on whether we get August rain. If not, it will be left for cover.”


Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: “It’s still hot and dry like it has been most of the summer. But we have a decent chance of rain this coming weekend. After that, we’re going to start some defoliating next week. We’re still waiting on insurance adjusters to look at some dryland fields. I’m guessing that about 75 to 80% of the dryland I watch will be harvested. We’re hoping for a 500-pound yield in the better spots. That will depend on what happens in the next week or so with the rain.


“The irrigated is still a little ways off but we’re seeing some open bolls. We’re still watering but some of it will see the last watering this week.


“We’re fighting all kinds of stink bugs in the irrigated cotton. It is the only green thing left in the countryside, so it’s a vacuum for everything. I haven’t seen any disease yet. With the hot, dry weather we’ve had, we’re seeing some leaves just fall off.”


Kate Harrell, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Jackson, Wharton and Matagorda Counties: “Defoliation is underway and cotton is looking good. It’s really pretty. Most guys in Wharton County haven’t gotten much out. No fields that I look at have been picked but a lot of guys are starting.


“There are a few stink bugs around but we’re far enough along not to worry much about them. I’m not sure about how yields will be. But after the last 2 years of weather issues, guys are just happy to be getting the crop out.”


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