Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor
Special thanks to PhytoGen, the exclusive sponsor of AgFax Southwest Cotton.
Four baler – Mike McHugh likes what he’s seeing after harvesting an irrigated field in south Texas.
Yield surprises - Paul Pilsner counted a good crop of bolls, but turns out things were even better.
Not running the sprinklers as much in Jerry Stuckey’s part of Kansas, thanks to August rain.
High bollworm counts have put farmers on alert across the Panhandle.
Million Dollar rain came too late for the Blacklands, creating new concerns.
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Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus: “We’ve been getting some nice little rains over much of the state. Some of our better cotton, north toward I-40, received more rain than in the southwestern part of the state, where the crop is either approaching cutout or is past it. Most of that is irrigated. Of course, the dryland side has had many challenges this year. But some areas north from Altus actually look pretty impressive and will push over 2 bales, if we can keep the weather favorable.
“The little bit of rain we’re getting now may be what we need to wind down the season. Most good cotton is at 4 to 5 NAWF. At the most, we have 3 weeks left in a good bloom period. That would make what fruit we’re setting now mature out into harvestable bolls.
“There are a few pockets where we’re worried about bollworm issues, and these rains could bring about some weed flushes. After the rough seasons we’ve had, we could sure use a warm September and early October to finish out the season.”
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “I was in Thrall this morning (8/14) in the southern Blacklands and now headed north to Temple. Some of the earliest fields have harvest aid applications going out. After the hot, dry summer, a lot of their cotton is only a half to one bale. It’s already 50% naturally defoliated.
“I got some calls from the central Blacklands yesterday where they got 3 to 9 inches of rain. That would have been a million dollar rain a month ago. Now, they’re trying to figure out what to do with defoliation and the wet conditions. Some guys with poor yield potential are now worrying about regrowth.
“Irrigated in the Brazos Bottom looks really good. Those that manage their water correctly have a lot of yield potential and should see a good year. We just know that things will now happen quickly from the southern Blacklands up to the northern Blacklands.
“The southern Rolling Plains also caught some rain. That will help their irrigated fields.”
Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas: “We had a little rain that finished off the crop. We’re shutting water off on just about everything.
“We’re defoliating and got some cotton picked. It’s making a really good crop. Yield from the first irrigated field we picked was right at 4 bales. That’s a positive because the first field is usually not the best yield. The quality looks good, even though gins haven’t even fired up yet. I think it’s a better crop than last year.
“We dodged some worm problems getting through Bt and had very little worm damage. I’m tickled to death with how things are going now.
“Right now, I’m planting vegetables heading into fall. That’s what’s great about the Wintergarden area, virtually year-round production. But I wouldn’t mind a little break.”
Jerry Stuckey, farmer-general manager, Northwest Cotton Growers Co-op, Inc., Moscow, Kansas: “We keep getting rain and have not had to run our sprinklers near as much. I got 0.55 of an inch at my house early this morning (8/14). We got more at the gin, where we’re trying to stay on schedule with our expansion program.
“Everything is looking pretty good. My crop looks good, even though a wind storm blew over some sprinklers in early July. We had no irrigation for 3 weeks and didn’t get any rain. But after a cooler start to August and some rain, I’m seeing a lot of bolls and could still see 1.5 to 2 bales on fields that didn’t have any water until the sprinklers were repaired.
“I think we’re going to have a good crop overall. With the rain, I don’t think we will have to start sprinklers any more.”
Emi Kimura, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Area Agronomist, Vernon: "We’ve finally started getting some rain on the northern Rolling Plains. It has been 0.8 to 1.5 inches over much of the area in the past few days.
“Even with the rain, dryland cotton remains stressed and has very few squares. I saw a lot of squares on the ground before the rain. Hopefully, this rain will help maintain the existing squares and bolls to get them to maturity.
“More rain is forecast for the next 10 days. Temperatures will be at 100 again this week, but it’s still not as extreme as recent weeks. The irrigated crop still looks good and the rainfall should help those producers.
“With mostly dry weather this summer, I’m not hearing of any bacterial blight issues. Producers are still concerned about the entire growing season and whether to keep their fields or plow them up and plant wheat.
“I’m optimistic about the coming wheat season after the rain we have had. We will start planting wheat within a month. Overall, I’ve never been so happy to see rain. I just wish we had had it a little earlier.”
Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale, Floyd & Swisher Counties: “We got some good rain this past weekend that helped finish up some fields. We still have some fields at 4, 5 and 6 NAWF. But most are at cutout and about 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
“We still have high bollworm numbers. There is some 2-gene Bt in the Wellington region that had to be sprayed. We’ve also sprayed some non-Bt. So we’re still on high alert for bollworms. Thankfully, we’re getting a lot of help from predators. We’ve had just about any cotton insect you can think of come through here, but most have either been below threshold or handled by beneficials. We were surprised by lygus when the highway department shredded ditches and the lygus jumped into cotton. But they’re feeding on fruit that will be shedded anyway.
“Sorghum, or anything that’s lush, is attractive to worms coming out of corn. We had to treat a couple of those fields for headworms, as well for sugarcane aphid. There have also been some armyworms in the whorl stage of sorghum.
“Weed control never goes away, but guys are doing a better job this year. With fields cutting out early, boll retention is pretty good. With the dry weather year we’ve had, there’s going to be some good yields and some not so good.”
Clyde Crumley, Crumley Agricultural Consulting, El Campo, Texas: “In the Upper Coast we just started defoliating and applying boll openers a week ago. We’re probably 25% defoliated and a few fields were picked over the weekend. The crop is turning out okay, somewhere in the 2-bale range.
“We could have been better but we missed our May rains. We had a good profile but didn’t get good early rain. Then we had those hot days that hurt the crop. But there will be some good cotton here and there. I don’t have any grades back yet and we’re not sure what turnouts will be.
“The good thing is it’s winding down, thank goodness. Cotton is always a challenge here, just like anywhere in Texas.”
Paul Pilsner, Pilsner Consulting, Wharton, Texas: “We’re getting with it – probably 10 to 20% harvested – and yields are better than expected. We’re happy with them, and some of the new varieties are proving better than we’ve given them credit for. After my boll counts, what I thought was 2-bale cotton was actually 2.5. And, what I thought was 3 bales irrigated went to 3.5 bales.
“It looks like we’ll have good quality. The first stuff came in at 3 cents over the loan rate. We expect to finish dryland harvest by September 1, if the weather holds. Irrigated will drag on for a couple more weeks.
“Also, all of the early crying about herbicide damage situations didn’t amount to any yield losses. We’re plum excited about this cotton. But soybeans, not so much. Beans and dicamba do not work together.”
Gary Beverage, Crop Production Services, Artesia, New Mexico/Southwest Texas: “We’re seeing some southwestern cotton rust issues. And, we’re battling some conchuela stink bugs, which are very aggressive and really appreciate a good cotton boll. I’ve also seen them eat worms and other insects.
“We’re still in the monsoon season. We had anywhere from 0.8 to 2.5 inches of rain in Artesia last week and scattered rains around us. Overall, the crop looks great. We’ve had good heat units and a lot of the irrigated is going to finish fairly early and well. I’ll guess that we’ll see above average yields with better cotton in the 4-plus bale range.
“We did have to replant some cotton due to hail and wind. If we have a good September and October we could see 3 bales on the replant. PGR use has been fairly limited this year. We just haven’t had the need until now as we begin to shut down the crop.”
David Drake, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Northeast Texas: “We got at least 2 inches of rain in recent days, but plants were basically done before that and past cutout. It will be interesting to see if the more determinate varieties come back and produce more bolls. Traditionally, we have a little bit more time so there’s a chance, but it will probably be on a field-by-field basis.
“Insects are pretty much gone, but we’re getting a little cotton root rot popping up in a few spots.
“Yields will be down because of the terribly hot weather we had. I’m estimating yields at three-quarters to 1.5 bales in the better fields, a lot less than last year. Those hot days over 100 just killed some bolls.
“Corn is about 80% harvested. Yields are at 65 to 100 bushels per acre, way below normal. The heat hurt it too much. Soybeans are ready to harvest, but a lot of fields were baled for forage where yields would be less than 20 bushels.
“Sorghum will probably yield 3,000 to 4,000 pounds and thankfully is not seeing much sugarcane aphid pressure.”
Rex Brandon, Crop Production Services, Dumas, Texas: “We actually have some insect pressure – conchuela stink bugs – not at treatable levels but they are out there. We’re also seeing some bollworm egg lays that we have to keep an eye on. There are some worms in bolls on both Bollgard 2 and conventional cotton. It’s not a lot, but it is happening. I’m a little worried about the type of pressure we may see next year.
“Our irrigated is very exciting. Fields look good and we’re ahead of schedule. There are big bolls and some 5-lockers at the bottom. We’re putting on some late season PGRs to keep it from growing off on us. As for dryland, there is good and bad.
“Fields are clean, but we had to follow up herbicide treatments with a few hoe crews on volunteer cotton in fields with dicamba following dicamba.
“Corn has a good ear fill. Cooler weather and a little rain lately should help us produce some nice yields. We’ll start chopping corn silage at the end of this week.”
Peter Dotray, Texas Tech University Weed Scientist (joint appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife), Lubbock: “We’ve had spotty showers, with an inch or more in some places and nothing in other places. Any help from Mother Nature to slow pivots down will be appreciated.
“Where there is a crop, the irrigated looks good and growers have done a good job with weed control. I’m out taking pictures of fields this morning (8/14) and there are many very clean fields. Guys started clean and overlaid fields with residuals to stay ahead of weeds.
“As I dig up under the canopy I’m not seeing any weeds, except for a few small ones in some fields. Growers should consider applying burndown through layby or under hoods. We know that weed plants emerging in August have the potential to produce up to 20,000 seeds for the following year, and we don’t need those.
“As good as things look in irrigated fields, we still have a long way to go. We need to manage with crop protection chemicals, use good irrigation management and then hope to finish strong.
“There are discussions with EPA on what the new dicamba label might look like in 2019. We’re optimistic we will have a label. Our guys have done a good job with on-target applications.”
AgFax News Links
Dicamba: As Decisions Go, This Is The Big One – DTN 8-10
Global Markets: Cotton – Highest U.S. Exports in Over a Decade 8-14
Texas: Zavala County Designated Natural Disaster Area for Drought 8-13
West Texas Cotton: Insects Quiet, Some “Occasional Pests” 8-10
West Texas Cotton: Bollworms and Bt Resistance 8-10
Oklahoma: 2 Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas for Drought 8-13
Kansas: 8 Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas from Drought 8-13
Ag Events in Texas and Kansas
Texas: Big Data in Ag Conference, Houston, Aug. 20-21
Texas: Private Pesticide Training, Uvalde, Aug. 21
Kansas: Dryland Ag Day, Tribune, Aug. 21
Kansas: Fall Field Day, Hays, Aug. 22
Texas: Big Country Wheat Conference, Abilene, Aug. 23
Texas: 42nd Annual Randall County Ag Day and Crops Tour, Canyon, Aug. 28
Texas: Rolling Plains Conservation Field Tour, Vernon, Aug. 29
NEWS SUMMARIES BY CROP
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