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Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor
Special thanks to PhytoGen, the exclusive sponsor of AgFax Southwest Cotton.
You can almost hear bolls “popping” in the dryland fields of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.
Yuma, Arizona, cotton growers are well into harvest while the crop is still pushing hard in the central part of the state.
Insurance adjusters around Waco advised dryland farmers to harvest – 200 pounds in some cases.
Southwest Oklahoma has “two crops” - cutout and full bloom.
Verticillium wilt and bacterial blight are not widespread but showing up where resistant varieties weren’t planted.
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Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo: "I was out yesterday (8/27) in central and northeastern Panhandle. Cotton looks really good. Dryland and limited irrigated fields have bolls cracking at the bottom. This week’s warm weather is very good for it.
“The irrigated looks exceptionally good. It has 3 to 4-bale yield potential. Irrigated is not cracking but bolls are starting to turn. Unfortunately, we had a hailstorm recently that hurt some cotton and cornfields in the northern panhandle. It’s always sad to see that after a full season of inputs have been invested.
“I’m not seeing any insect pressure. There are some pockets of disease, localized areas of bacterial blight in the northeast Panhandle. I’m also seeing some verticillium wilt on irrigated fields. It’s not on entire fields, but there are definitely pockets. Some of those fields have been continuous cotton for 2 to 3 years. Where they’re seeing vert, producers have to evaluate and think about a rotation or planting more vert-tolerant varieties to get a handle on it.
“Corn is finishing up well. Silage harvest is underway. A lot of fields have reached black layer. Some later corn is still in early dent.
“We’re watching fields for a return of fumonisin, the mycotoxin that was in some corn last fall. I recommend that producers evaluate their fields. If they see ear mold, they need to watch those fields. Also, check with the local elevator. See what the elevator will do in testing for fumonisin and what discounts may apply.
“Producers need to be more proactive and maybe go ahead and call their insurance adjuster and have everything lined up. Corn planted in limited water had some stress in June and July. Check those fields closely. If there is scattered ear mold, they may even need some strategic combining to help keep all loads from being contaminated.”
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “Harvest is well under way in the southern and central Blacklands – probably 10 to 15% completed. Yields are mostly a half-bale to a bale maximum. Some will be up to 1.5 bales but most yields are very low.
“It’s a similar situation northward towards Dallas until you get to northeast Texas where they've had more rain. The Concho Valley around San Angelo hasn’t had much reprieve. They’ll soon be winding up the crop. It’s near its final bloom date of the first week of September.
“Despite the poor conditions we’ve seen in the Blacklands and down into the Upper Coast, I think we could still see cotton acres up next year if grain prices don't rebound. But before that, the Blacklands and Rolling Plains need rain in order to put in a wheat crop.”
John David Gonzales, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Bailey, Parmer & Castro Counties: “The cotton is looking good. Square retention is high and bolls are hanging pretty impressive for this late in the season. It’s either at cutout or close to it. We’re enjoying heat units from these mid-90 temperatures that should help get those bolls open.
“We’re scouting heavily for bollworms, considering the report we got that bollworms are coming through Bt cotton. I’m not seeing the pressure others are seeing, which is a good thing. I did pick up some aphids a week or two ago, but they were small populations. Beneficials wiped those out before they could get started. But that doesn't mean they won't come back. We don't need a sticky cotton situation.
“Verticillium wilt is in some places, but it’s spotty and not taking over. I’m pulling samples this afternoon (8/27) to check roots for root knot nematode damage in a trial I have in New Mexico just across the state line from Parmer County."
“Corn looks good. There are choppers going all over the place for silage harvest. Fields are making 23 to 28 tons per acre. That’s not bad considering the hot, dry weather we’ve had.”
Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “It’s coming down to the end in the Yuma area. There has been some 3 to 4-bale cotton picked so far. I’m looking to harvest my first plots about September 5. Central Arizona is quickly coming to a stop in terms of irrigation. Some fields may get watered one or maybe 2 more times in the lower desert and in the southeast.
“I’m optimistic about the central area after the heat stress it suffered. Things have moderated recently and we still have an opportunity to make some decent cotton in the next 3 to 4 weeks. Any bloom set by September 15 can still make it to harvest.
“Cotton in higher elevations in the southeast, at about 4,000 ft., look good. But if it cools off dramatically it can be tough for them to get bolls opened and defoliated.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary on insects, just a few lygus applications. I haven't heard of any late season whitefly issues.”
Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas: “We can’t get rid of this hot summer. It’s 103 on my pickup gauge this afternoon (8/27). We started stripping dryland late last week and have gotten a lot more defoliated. We’ll wrap up defoliation on dryland this week and start defoliating the irrigated next week.
“Dryland yields are not looking good. It was just too hot and dry. My best field has made a bale so far. A few better fields that caught a few showers may go 600 to 700 pounds at best. Some dryland is making 200 pounds. The insurance adjusters told them to go ahead and harvest it.
“The irrigated will be average in some places, probably 2.5 to 3 bales, instead of the 3.5 to 4 bales that we had last year. But, the Brazos Bottom irrigated was helped with more rain and should be 3 to 4 bales.
“I’m not seeing any aphids or other insects. But I do have 2,000 acres that I watch up toward Comanche, and spider mites showed up last week. We had to spray because it’s still one month away from defoliating.”
Katelyn Kesheimer, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Lubbock & Crosby Counties: “It’s windy today (8/27) but it actually feels nice with temperatures above 95. We finally had a good widespread rain about a week ago that helped finish out the irrigated crop. It was too late for most dryland, but will help the irrigated ride out the season. Most cotton is at cutout and we're starting to see a few cracked bolls.
“The rain washed away a lot of cotton aphids where there had been some patches. The good news is we’re seeing a ton of lacewings, ladybugs and other beneficials. They’re eating away at cotton aphids and even bollworms and sugarcane aphid in sorghum.
“There have been a few issues with bollworms but beneficials are helping keep them at bay. We’re still seeing conchuela stink bugs popping up in cotton. Growers should look behind the bracks on bolls to find them.
“We’re seeing sugarcane aphid in more mature sorghum fields. It has been a calm year and the beneficials are helping, but we need to start keeping an eye on them. Overall, we’re just hoping to coast our way to end of the year on all crops without any major outbreaks.”
Speckled cotton boll. Photo: Larry Stalcup, AgFax Media
Cody Noggler, Crop Quest Consulting, Northwestern Texas Panhandle: “I think this crop should finish up pretty well. It’s still a little ahead of last year. We’re getting a lot more heat units for August than we did in 2017. Places that still have a good profile look good. A few fields are from the boll-fill to first-open-boll stage.
“Where there’s good water, we had to Pix some cotton to help shut it down. It should yield really well. Yields should also be good where guys couldn’t water as much, but received good rain. We’re probably looking at an average crop overall.
“I haven't seen a whole lot of insects in my cotton. But we’re having to spray for sugarcane aphids and headworms in a lot of seed milo and commercial milo. In corn, we’re starting to shut down sprinklers at the end of this week or next. We need to get through this heat wave first.”
John Ellis, Nutrien Ag Solutions (formerly Crop Production Services), Southwestern Oklahoma: “We’ve had some widespread rain the past few weeks. That got the late-planted cotton going and it’s at full bloom. The other cotton is at cutout. It’s like we have two crops. We need September weather to hold on for us. The late cotton has a potential to make it with a rain or two.
“Our irrigated is about average, 2.5 to 3 bales. There was some 4-bale last year with a lot of assistance from Mother Nature. We’re trying to stay close to the 3-bale range. It’s back at 102 today with 20 mph wind, which doesn't help. The dryland that was saved is average and could make from 1 to one-and-three-quarter bales. It’s one rain away.
“Bug pressure is light, other than a few escapes on bollworms – nothing we had to spray. Some PGRs were put out the last few days on late dryland fields that got some rain. We’re trying to get blooms to the top. Some irrigated is also in that situation.
“There’s some bacterial blight in a few fields where it has been found before. We’ll need to look for more disease resistant varieties.”
Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan, Kansas: “We’ve had some excellent rain that has helped in most areas. We actually have some pond water in eastern Kansas where it has been so terribly dry.
“Cotton is chugging along and is still good to excellent. There has been consistent moisture, even in the far southwestern part of the state. Some bolls are starting to pop and we’re pretty much done with any effective boll set. Southern Kansas has been blessed the last 3 years and cotton has been a consistent bright spot.
“The rains have certainly helped our soybeans. Most corn is pretty much already done. We’ve been cutting silage and we’ll start cutting for grain in a week or so. The sorghum had a little sugarcane aphid, but damage was not terrible from what I can tell.”
Tommy Doederlein, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Dawson & Lynn Counties: “For the crop we have left, these high temperatures present good cotton growing weather. Most of our dryland was abandoned. Our irrigated varies, depending on how much groundwater you have.
“Some fields look great and will push 3.5 to 4 bales. They have good water and also caught some good popcorn showers. Then there’s some irrigated stuff that might make a bale. It’s struggling in limited water situations. For that cotton, we got the stand early, then had terribly hot weather and got no help from rainfall. Rains we’ve received recently should help fill the bolls and make full size bolls.
“There are a few stink bugs that got to levels requiring treatment in fields right along the Caprock and pastureland. With the dry conditions they're looking for something green. I’ve haven’t seen any bollworms in other areas. With the late rains, we’re still having to control weeds. That’s going to be an ongoing battle.
“We need moisture this winter to build up a profile for next year. After abandoning their dryland acres, a lot of guys came in and planted a grass crop. It was mainly for building the ground. But if they get more rain and it gets to knee high, they may cut and bale it. There’s a hay shortage, so there’s maybe an opportunity to sell hay to cattle producers and dairies.”
Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma: “I’m seeing a lot of cracked bolls in dryland. They're popping. There may be some guys stripping in a couple of weeks. We're also seeing the first cracked bolls in irrigated.
“All the cotton is at hard cutout or close to it. Some of the late-planted irrigated crop is at 5 to 6 NAWF. That’s about 10% of the irrigated I watch. We’re applying PGRs pretty hard to get it finished. If we can get 15 to 20 heat units a day until September 20, we can finish a lot of the top bolls. Then we need a gradual open fall to finish out the crop.
“I’ve noticed some scattered bacterial blight on some varieties with not much resistance. That disease is here to stay. Peanuts are loading up and there’s still not much disease pressure. Insects are not an issue from what I’m seeing. A few fields flared up with aphids but it wasn’t a runaway. Beneficials have built back up and should help any insect issues.
“We’re getting ready for more cover crops this fall and winter to help build up the soil and prevent erosion. We’re still learning how to do it. I’m going with aerial applications of cereal grains and radishes. That builds up a good forage and I may add some stocker cattle to graze those fields to help get more return from them.”
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Ben Benton, PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist, Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, Kansas: “We’re looking at average to above average irrigated crops in most of the areas I cover, including: Hockley and Cochran counties west of Lubbock, the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and Kansas, plus a little in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“Some areas of Spearman, Texas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and southwest Kansas have received good rains recently. That put them in a little better shape as we finish the crop.
“There’s not much dryland, but some fields could make a decent crop if they were able to make a stand and received late season rain. A lot of cotton that just got established ran out of steam before it got any size on it.
“Early planted cotton in the northeast Texas Panhandle and near Turpin, Oklahoma, is seeing speckled bolls well up into the plant. That’s a good sign. We’re a lot further along than we were this time last year. The heat and availability of good irrigation are really helping the crop. Also, a lot of those acres are former corn circles and have good soil fertility.
“Guys need to keep an eye on where the crop is. Most are backing off irrigation, but they may need to keep some water out there if they haven’t received much rain and don’t have a good profile. These late August hot days can help get more out of the crop. However, there will be a time soon when they’ll need to shut off the water.
“The need for more PGRs will depend on whether cotton has cutout. Some is still at 5 to 6 NAWF. But cotton that has bloomed out the top is mostly done.
“Growers have done a good job with weed control. We had a lot of acres with our new technology. Guys are getting a lot better at using new technologies and respecting the fact that both technologies harp on the need to load up on residuals and not depend on one over-the-top technology. There were a few off-target issues after the hot June, but overall the number of calls has been pretty low.
“After recent rains we may see a few late weed flushes. Hoe crews may have to go in and clean up the weeds to prevent them from going to seed.
“We’re seeing low insect pressure. From what I hear, there are some bollworm escapes in the 2-gene Bt cotton, but about all I deal with is the 3-gene, WideStrike3. We haven't had any bollworm problems. But we need to keep an eye out for all insects, including stink bugs and especially aphids. We don't want a sticky cotton situation. When considering insecticide treatments, we need to do what we can to protect beneficials.
“I saw a little verticillium wilt a few weeks ago but haven’t heard of any train wrecks – no bacterial blight issues either. But with this rain, we could see some disease flare up. If growers don't have disease resistant varieties, they need to monitor fields more closely.”
AgFax.com News Links
Trade Damage: Details of USDA Short-term Relief Strategy Released 8-27
Rose On Cotton: As Lulls Go, It’s A Good Place To Be 8-24
Cleveland On Cotton: Cooperatives, Merchants Cutting Deals To Break Even 8-24
Shurley on Cotton: Plastic Contamination a Serious Issue to Quality 8-23
Livestock: Cattle on Feed Inventories Nearly 5% Above Last Year 8-27
Cotton: PhytoGen Breeding Traits Help Protect Against Diseases, Pests 8-29
Texas Panhandle: Corn Rootworm Show ‘Probable Resistance’ to Some Bt 8-27
Kansas Corn Growers Disappointed with Penny from USDA Trade Aid 8-29
Oklahoma Cotton: Look Out for Aphids Sticky Cotton 8-23
Texas West Plains Cotton: Keep Scouting for Aphids 8-28
Texas: 6 Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas to Drought 8-28
Texas Plains: Pests Are Present but Mostly Below Thresholds 8-28
Texas: Conservation Workshop, Waco, Sept. 5
Texas: Spray Equipment Setup Webinar, Sept. 6
Texas: Concho Valley Wild Pig Management Workshop, San Angelo, Sept. 12
Texas: Rancher Roundtable – Prescribed Burning, San Angelo, Sept. 12-13
Texas: Prospective Wine-Grape Growers Workshop, Eddy, Sept. 14
Celebrate Cotton Game – Tickets still available – 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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