Larry Stalcup, AgFax Southwest Editor
Debra L Ferguson, AgFax Managing Editor
This is our final issue of Southwest Cotton for 2018. Many thanks to the Phytogen Cotton Team!
A Big Thank You to Extension workers, crop advisors, dealer
reps and others who took the time to visit with us and offer their
insight about this season’s cotton crop.
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Rain halts harvest – Upper Gulf Coast, South Texas and the Blacklands need sunshine.
Harvest aid applications – Going out soon in the South Plains and Oklahoma.
Pushing 4 bales – Much of our coverage area is ready for some prime yields.
Variety decisions for 2019 – Blayne Reed, Gayle Morgan and Jourdan Bell talk about it.
Wise Words: “Weeds don't let their guard down.” – Blayne Reed
New Cotton Specialist – Welcome to Murilo Maeda, new Texas A&M Cotton Specialist in Lubbock, starting in October. “He will be a valuable resource for growers on the South Plains, the Panhandle and other parts of West Texas,” says Gaylon Morgan.
Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus: “The weather right now is great. We’re forecast to be in the mid-80s with clear, sunny skies. That’s just what we need to finish the crop – even the dryland has good yield potential.
“In the northern part of the state, there will be some good high-yielding dryland fields. South of I-40 in Washita and Kiowa counties has strong dryland potential. We could see some yields go over 2 bales per acre. Irrigated yields should also be strong, even in areas where they had low water capacity.
Dryland Cotton, Tillman County,Oklahoma
Photo: Seth Byrd
“Folks will likely start applying harvest aids later this week, or next, depending on their situation. We will start defoliating a few fields with larger plants in late September while others will start in early October.
“Considering the hot, dry summer we had early on, things are looking good. I’ve been very impressed with the weed control programs across Oklahoma. I haven't seen a weed disaster. That’s across any trait package you can imagine. Folks have done a good job with their herbicide programs.”
DeWayne Dopslauf, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wharton County, Texas: “We’re having trouble getting this crop harvested in the middle Upper Gulf Coast. We’re at a standstill with continued rainfall. We have about half of it out and a lot was defoliated before the rain started a week ago. We may have to defoliate a lot of it again.
“We got a lot of cotton out before this started, but I have one farm that’s late and we haven't picked any of it yet. Cotton that has been harvested is yielding from 2 to 3 bales per acre. That’s on both irrigated and dryland.
“I’m not seeing any boll sprouting with all of the rain, but I haven't been able to get into the field much due to this wet weather. Unfortunately, there’s another wave of rain in the forecast with the tropical storm that’s brewing in the gulf. We’re just waiting it out."
Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale, Floyd & Swisher Counties: “It’s looking pretty good. About 85 to 90% of the fields have open cotton. We’re a little ahead of schedule and may start on harvest aids a little earlier. That’s especially true on those fields that caught some hail in August. We’ll probably Prep them early.
“Due to the dry summer, some irrigated has short and small stature in a lot of places. Yields will be off in some places, with yields a little under 2 bales per acre where they only had 2 inches of rain since last October. But above average yields are expected from other fields. The 3-plus-range is not beyond possibilities. Also, I don't see quality as an issue in these counties.
“We’re still catching a lot of bollworm moths in traps, but not in cotton. We’re pretty much past the stage for economic damage from bollworms. A lot of trials are showing that we’re still getting some benefit out of 2-gene, with about 60% control. But we definitely need to be scouting them. We’ll probably see more 3-gene with the Viptera trait built in automatically. Cotton aphids remain quiet but we’re scouting for them.
"For sorghum, late fields are attractive to headworms and sugarcane aphid is still present.
“Guys are doing a better job of weed control every year. Weeds don't let their guard down. We always need to revise the plan on herbicides to try and stay ahead of them.”
Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford: “We’ve started harvest and have 4-plus bale yields on some trials. Growers in the Yuma area are saying they’re averaging in the 3-bale range.
“The central part of the state is being defoliated and we’ll be picking in another 2 to 3 weeks. The same goes for eastern Arizona. I’m in Safford today (9/11) and the fields look good. We’re very optimistic about what we have.
“We have good warm temperatures in the forecast and we’re about 10 days ahead of schedule on heat units. That will help us mature out some of the late cotton.
“I encourage growers to keep their cotton clean and free of contamination. We’re hearing too many reports about foreign materials in modules. Plastic from wrapping and twine are showing up at the spinner. We can’t have that spoil our reputation for good quality cotton.”
David Drake, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Northeast Texas: “We need some of that Amarillo sunshine over in northeast Texas. Tropical moisture has set in and rain keeps coming back around. We started applying some harvest aids last week but can't get back in the field. So it's going to be a little tough with the regrowth and good soil moisture.
“It’s going to be a 2 to 3-shot process. There’s a lot of growth in the top of the plant. Thidiazuron products are doing well in controlling regrowth. The challenge will be to apply harvest aids, then get in the field in a timely way with pickers to get the cotton out.
“We expect yields to be from three-quarters to 1.5 bales in dryland fields. There are a few irrigated fields up near the Red River that will probably go 3 bales. We just need the sunshine to finish up this crop.”
Jerry Stuckey, farmer-general manager, Northwest Cotton Growers Co-op, Inc., Moscow, Kansas: “Irrigated looks really good, but we won't have much dryland after the hot, dry period that followed planting. I’ve done boll counts on my cotton and a few other fields. My crop appears to be in the 1,200 pound per acre range on the lower end and 1,600 to 1,800 pounds on the better cotton. If we can have a normal fall we’ll be in fine shape.
Cotton bolls near Moscow, Kansas.
Photo: Jerry Stuckey
“Guys have done a good job on weeds. We got access to the early season Enlist varieties and it was a fully different picture because we were able to plant earlier.
“We need that open fall because we’ve had a lot of rain. It’s still muddy. We’re looking for warmer days this week. We had our field day last week and saw a good turnout. The crop is loaded with bolls and most is at cutout. It’s right where we need to be.
“We’re continuing with our gin expansion. The original gin was built in 2002 and we doubled its size in 2004. The new addition will give us more capacity for the increase in cotton acres that we’re seeing in southwest Kansas.”
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife State Cotton Specialist, College Station: “Most of the Blacklands had their cotton out before this week. Yields are from a half to 1.5 bales per acre. Irrigated harvest is just starting in the Brazos Bottom, but is being held up by wet weather this week. There has been from 1 to 3 inches of rain and drizzle, so the central and southern Blacklands weather has not been conducive for harvesting.
“Fortunately, things have been drying out between showers. We haven't had the seed sprouting issues like we’ve had in recent years. Quality should be hanging in there.
“Weed control has been good for the vast majority of what I’ve seen. Growers have done a good job in using the new herbicide technologies. They made timely applications and efficacy seems to be working well. I did notice some fields with weeds in parts of the Rolling Plains yesterday (9/10). That could have been in fields that were abandoned because of the dry weather.
“We’re pleased with what we’re seeing with a new product, Duplosan by Nufarm. It has shown to be effective for chemical stalk destruction in south and east Texas. It will kill Enlist and Xtend stalks – both of the new technologies. It’s good to have this product in our hip pocket. It will be helpful in the long term.
“As for insects, I think the new Viptera Bt technology has been a driver for some who faced bollworm problems with 2-gene Bt in 2017. They’re moving away from 2-gene technology.
“For the 2019 crop, we encourage growers to be diligent when looking at their varieties and how the new technologies and insect traits will fit into their program – and their neighbors’ programs – in the event of off-target drift. Look at as much data as possible from seed company trials and unbiased Extension trials to get an idea of what works in your area."
Chris Locke, CSL Consulting Inc., Sudan, Texas/Eastern New Mexico: “We’re pretty happy with the irrigated cotton. We got some showers along the way that kept us going. I’m expecting some good yields overall and some high yields where we had decent water.
“On the low end, yields should be about 2 bales per acre. We’ll have some yields push 4 bales in the high-end cotton. The overall average should be from 2.5 to 3 bales.
“Maturity-wise, all cotton is several weeks ahead of this time last year. We have speckled bolls all the way to the top. A couple of fields are 10% open. We’ll start prepping those fields in about 2 weeks.
“Weed control was good. We had issues with preemerge herbicides early on due to dry weather. But overall, our Dicamba, Roundup and Liberty program worked well.
“I think 2-gene Bt is still holding up for the most part in our area. I had some bollworm issues on non-Bt, but I didn't spray any Bt. However, I talked to some guys around Littlefield who had to spray 2-gene cotton for worms.
“We’re seeing a lot of verticillium wilt in susceptible cotton varieties. I see more growers moving to varieties that handle it better.”
Kyle Aljoe, Crop Quest Consulting, Dimmitt, Texas: “Early cotton is close to being defoliated and some growers have already started on limited water fields. We’re just waiting for boll fill and trying to time our defoliation with it.
“Cotton under limited irrigation doesn't look bad. Yields are estimated at 1.5 to 2 bales per acre or even a little more. Some of the cotton with plenty of irrigation looks really good. Some of it will push 4 bales.
“We were pleased with weed control in cotton, but had a couple of patches we had to fight a little longer than we wanted.
“For insects, I didn’t have any trouble with 2-gene Bt in my fields. I never even sprayed my non-Bt, which is 10% or less of what I watch.
"We did not escape sugarcane aphids in forage sorghum. Everything has been sprayed at least once, some of it twice. We’d rather chop it than spray again. On sorghum for grain, I’m looking at a long-season variety that is tall. I’ve not had to spray for sugarcane aphid yet. So there is some tolerance in certain varieties. We’re having to spray newly planted wheat and triticale for armyworms."
Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo: "Fortunately, the rain we received in the northern Panhandle last week was still beneficial for the crop. We’re excited to see warm, dry weather the next week to finish off maturity. We’re seeing some lower bolls mature, but we’re not at the point that we need to start harvest aid applications.
“In parts of the Panhandle we’re even seeing lower bolls starting to open. The dryland we have is a little further along. In making my own boll counts and visiting with producers who’ve checked their plants, we definitely have some 3.5 to 4-bale cotton. It will be exciting to see how quality comes out.
“We’re set up for a nice cotton crop that also has good fiber quality. And, one reason is that producers were on top of their weed control this year. They did a good job of getting preemerge herbicides out. But we did see some challenges with herbicides on dryland. Producers had a problem getting the preemerge herbicides activated. They had to be more aggressive with post applications.
“On insect control, my discussions with producers and entomologists indicate they are looking at the availability of 3-gene Bt varieties. In the northern Panhandle, they usually don’t have these pest problems. But as we see more transition to greater cotton acres, we could have increased bollworm issues from earworms moving from corn to cotton.
“Verticillium wilt and bacterial blight are more of a concern since we’re seeing more continuous cotton. Producers are going to be paying attention to disease ratings in making variety selections.
“Overall, it’s amazing to see the change in cropping system dynamics in the northern Panhandle. The number of cotton acres is still growing.”
Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas: “If we’re lucky we can start picking again by Friday. But we’ve been stalled by about 10 inches of rain that has fallen since this time last week. We had maybe 15 to 20% of the crop picked before the rain. It was some of the best cotton we've ever had.
"We had a lot of 4-bale cotton and some close to 5. Now, a lot of cotton is on the ground. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. Unfortunately, we have seed sprouting, which is not good.
“We’ll probably have to re-defoliate with all of the regrowth we’re seeing. If we get in and spray the regrowth in the next day or two we may be able to start picking again in a few days – if it doesn't start raining again.”
Orlando Flores, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, El Paso County: “It has been a good cotton growing year here and in southeastern New Mexico. I don't see anything out of the ordinary as far as insects are concerned. I saw a little white fly activity this morning (9/11), but haven't heard of anything major.
“We had a lot of rain last week. But it is so hot and dry that it dries out the next day.
"People are getting ready to defoliate. Some Pima is done, so it’s just a matter of time. We should see above average yields with the good growing conditions we’ve had.”
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Texas Field Reports: El Niño Expected to Bring Wetter Conditions Through Winter 9-11
Texas: Ag Law Workshop, Big Spring, Oct. 3
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