Larry Stalcup, Field Editor

Many thanks to the PhytoGen Cotton Team for their continued support and sponsorship.



There’s a bit more optimism in this week’s issue and we could all use more of that!  

Drier, warmer weather spread across the Panhandle and South Plains, where dryland cotton is making a go of it.  

Fleahopper scouting is ongoing in an effort to save this season’s hard earned fruit.  

Bollworm egg lays are heavy in the Upper Coast and central Blacklands. A big concern is the possible need to treat Bollgard 3 and WideStrike 3 Vip cotton, reports Clyde Crumley, who is also seeing heavy stink bug pressure.  

Weeds – Residual herbicides are getting a lot of credit. “For those using only post applications, it’s like chasing your tail,” says Seth Byrd.

Everyone have a safe 4th of July!

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Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock:

“In general, everything is doing well but we’re still behind. Hopefully, warmer weather this week and a little rain will help us start to catch up. A lot of dryland fields look good on the South Plains. With the reduction of acres, we’ll likely see in the Panhandle, we need a good dryland crop for the overall region.

“The irrigated cotton is just as good or just as bad – depending on how you look at it. There is insect pressure popping up from thrips and other bugs that can hurt young cotton. We need to scout for fleahoppers as fields approach squaring. If the late cotton runs out of season this fall, what we’re protecting right now might be all we get. It’s important to stay on top of it.

“Weed pressure hasn’t changed much from last week. If growers used a good residual herbicide program, you see clean fields. If they're weedy, they likely didn't follow a residual herbicide program or couldn’t because of wet weather at critical times for spraying.”


Rex Friesen, Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Co-op, Winfield:

"It’s a mixed bag, but overall I’m quite happy with what I see after our terrible start. We were expecting a big increase in acres, but we’re probably 30 to 40% down from last year. We’ll be counting on good yields to make up for it.

“Early cotton has several squares. One field I visited last week had 3 squares and 8 to 9 true leaves. Much of that stuff looks really good. I’ve noticed, however, that certain fields didn't have good residue from limited tillage to prevent blowing and suffered wind damage.

“There are quite a few fields being sprayed aggressively for weeds. We need to get them in shape. We can do it, but it won't be very cheap. A consultant told me this morning (7/1) that he is finding many fleahoppers and plant bugs. I’m also afraid we’ll have a stink bug problem, if my mulberry trees are any indication.

“But by and large the cotton we have is looking pretty good. We’re just glad it’s starting to take off.”


Cody Noggler, Crop Quest Consulting, Northwestern Texas Panhandle:

“I have about 50% of my intended cotton acres left. All of the cool weather, rain and hail really kept us from either getting a stand made or keeping it going. Mother Nature didn’t cooperate in much of the Texas Panhandle.

“However, the recent heat is turning this crop around. It’s growing pretty good and starting to put on squares.

“We need to be watching out for fleahoppers. Sprays are going out to help keep those first squares intact.

“Weed control has worked well. New herbicide technologies and residuals have done a good job. We’re applying the Stance PGR to help move the cotton along.

“Corn is also taking off, including the early season hybrids planted into failed cotton acres. We turned the water on 2 weeks ago. There’s probably 12- to 13-leaf corn everywhere. Milo is also coming along.”


David Drake, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Northeast Texas:

“I’m in my cotton variety plot (7/1) and it’s not too bad, even though we’re about a month behind due to continued wet weather. Like other cotton in our heavier soils, the plots are not growing like we would expect. The soil remains too wet and soggy in many places. There is yellowing in a few low spots.

“The good news is that insect numbers seem pretty low. We didn't get the thrips, likely because the grass is still green, and they didn't leave it. Cotton is beyond that stage. Fleahoppers have been heavy in the southern part of our region. Corn has finished pollinating and it has earworms. We expect those to move into bolls as cotton progresses.

 “Our biggest problem is weeds. It has been hard to get in and control them. Some of preseason stuff has played out, and we have narrow windows to get herbicide applied in between downpours.

“Wheat harvest is virtually finished but rainy weather has kept a few combines out of the field.”

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Randy Norton, University of Arizona Extension Cotton Specialist, Safford:

“We’re seeing good news on heat stress. Data for 2017 to 2019 shows we’re not even close to where we’ve been for heat stress in the past two years. In the low desert we’re usually in the 115 or higher range. We just haven't had that. We’ve been 108 to 110.

“The higher elevations actually need more heat to finish out the crop. With the monsoon season approaching things should return to normal. But we’ll have to watch for heat stress elsewhere with higher humidity and temperatures.

“Meanwhile, cotton in the Yuma area out west is approaching peak bloom. In central Arizona it’s at first bloom. Eastern areas are approaching first bloom and the high desert cotton is at match-head square. Lygus, whitefly and other insect pressure is very light. Part of that is probably due to the cooler temperatures.”


Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock:

“Early on I had calls about flea beetles, wireworms and chinch bugs. We’re past that window and we’re virtually past the period in which thrips are a problem.

“However, I’m seeing more silverleaf nightshade, which is a good host for fleahoppers. If those weeds are on the edge of cotton fields, we need to scout closely for fleahoppers.

“The threshold for cotton fleahopper is 25 to 30 per 100 terminals for the Panhandle-South Plains region. Also, we need to keep count of square retention. There should be no more than 10% square loss the first week of squaring. That could require spraying. We’re already late on the production schedule and I don't want to see any fleahoppers that can disturb square retention.

“There are a few aphids and I’m hearing reports of growers spraying for them on the southern plains. We also need to be prepared for worms, especially in non-Bt corn or cotton and potentially on older Bt technology. There’s no panic button yet, but we need to protect the plants.”


Mike McHugh, Southwest Texas Ag Consultants, Uvalde, Texas:

“I’m looking at a field right now (7/1) and it looks pretty good, like most of our cotton. We had good rain the last 10 days that averaged from 2 to 2.5 inches. Most cotton is in full bloom. We just need warmer temperatures. We’re about 95 right now and it needs to be 100 to 105 to make the cotton really take off.

“We have weeds under control. There are no real problems. A lot of dicamba has gone out and I haven't heard of any off-target issues. Insect-wise we’re in good shape. No whiteflies are showing up. I’m making pix applications to manage the growth. I’d say we’re headed for a good yield barring any weather disasters.”


Tyler Mays, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hill County:

“Cotton looks good and a few fields are blooming in the central Blacklands. Fleahoppers are still in high numbers in a few fields. In others, I haven't had to spray once, which is surprising.

“We’re getting a strong moth egg lay and seeing decent numbers in fields. But we also have many beneficials. Hopefully, with beneficials and Bt technology, we can keep bollworms below threshold.

“Weed control is exceptional in most fields, although I’m seeing volunteer corn. Small grasses and small broadleaf weeds are being kept under control with auxin technology and Liberty. We’re not seeing any drift situations, but with weather getting warmer, we could see potential drift issues through temperature inversion.

“Silage choppers should start this week in corn but the rain on Saturday (6/29) probably held them back a day or two. Northern corn leaf blight has been reported, but it’s probably not a concern with corn being so far along.

“I’m seeing spider mites, so we need to keep any eye on them. I haven’t seen any cotton damage. However, we haven't reached our highest temperatures for the summer. I know there are spider mites on edges of fields along the Brazos Bottom.

“Sorghum has the widest range of growth I’ve ever seen. There’s wildcat sorghum that’s not yet at pre-boot. Some fields will head out this week and others are in the later part of the milk stages.

“I’m seeing a few headworms, but no spraying is needed. Stink bugs are also around, but not bad enough for insecticide applications. And sugarcane aphids are there but not above threshold. A recent cooler wet spell helped keep SCA in check along with beneficials.”


Gary Beverage, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Artesia, New Mexico/Southwest Texas:

“Things are starting to grow after 2 weeks of hot weather, which we really needed. Cotton that needed replanting is mostly at 5 to 6 leaves. In other places, we’ll probably see blooms by the Fourth.

“We’re getting early Lygus activity that we’re watching closely. We had stink bugs that have been severe in other crops, but not yet on cotton. Fleahoppers have not been an issue but we had grasshopper problems. They don't feed ferociously on cotton, but with the high numbers, cotton caught some of the feeding.

“Weed control is pretty good, although we have regional problems with cotton planted into Roundup Ready alfalfa. The alfalfa has been hard to kill. That may be a lesson learned for that rotation.

“We’ve been blessed with early moisture and haven't seen as much rust as expected. But we’ve not started the monsoon season, when rust can be an issue.”

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Clyde Crumley, Crumley Agricultural Consulting, El Campo, Texas:

“I’ve been here 12 years, and this is by far the most insect pressure I’ve ever seen. We made it through fleahoppers. Now we’re dovetailing into worm season and stink bugs.

“We have tremendous stink bug pressure coming out of corn. Usually, we get 2 weeks out of one insecticide application. This year we have often had to make more than one application to handle them. But we have to protect the crop. If you're not on your “A” game with stink bugs they will really hurt you.

“We’ve had a chronic bollworm egg lay in the past few weeks – up to 80% – and those are the ones we can see. If you have Bollgard 2, nearly all of it has to be sprayed. The bigger concern is Bollgard 3 and WideStrike 3 Vip cotton. Worms have to feed to get a lethal dose. We’re finding that some fruit can become compromised after feeding. We haven't treated any yet, but some is close to needing a treatment.

“Thankfully, we have a good looking crop. We’re at mid-bloom and a few fields will cut out in 10 days to 2 weeks. With all of the rain early on, no one has had to irrigate their cotton. We just have to protect it.

“Lots of Pix is going out, as much as I’ve ever seen. If you don’t apply Pix, it looks like Cambodia. We’re a week to 10 days later than normal. The longer you go the more subject you are to things happening.

“On the grain side, corn and grain sorghum look pretty good after the rainy year. We’re going to need good yields after the year we’ve had.”


Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University Extension Cotton Specialist, Stillwater/Altus:

“I was in southwest Oklahoma yesterday (7/1). They’re definitely seeing their cotton progress. We’ve seen a big jump in the last week to 10 days.

“Cotton planted about June 20 is at cotyledon or first true leaf. Fields planted in early June are approaching squaring. Cotton planted in late May is looking great and starting to square. So, after a slow start, the warm weather in the past 2 weeks has really helped.

“In central and even southwestern areas, a few late planted fields need rain to help breakup hard soil. There’s plenty of profile, but they’re seeing hard ground on top. I’m headed to the Panhandle today. Folks there will have fewer cotton acres after the bad growing conditions. Most of them moved to corn or milo.

“Overall, weed control is good, but it’s putting a lot of pressure on herbicide programs. I’m seeing more light tillage after planting. But again, we’re really seeing the value of residual herbicides. It’s a night and day difference where they were used. For those using only post applications, it’s like chasing your tail. You're constantly in conditions that promote weed flushes.

“Insects haven’t been bad, but we’re on the lookout for fleahoppers. Some sprays have gone out. Growers need to be sure they’re scouting and that insects are at threshold before they spray. Don't spray just because you’re worried. It can hamper our beneficials and is a poor return on investment.”


Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Corpus Christi:

“Our crop has really come along. I’m looking at our variety plots this morning. It has flowered out the top and we’ll easily have 2- to 2.5-bale cotton. Everything fruited up nice and kept the flowers and bolls.

“There are still many weedy fields in the Coastal Bend. But with the crop so far along there are limited options on what we can spray. As a whole, insects are not a problem around Corpus. We had a few fleahoppers earlier, but things are light now. I’m hearing the Upper Coast is seeing many guys having to spray for bollworms.

“We’re just praying for hot weather in August and early September. A good rain would finish the cotton, but we’d like for it to hold off until after sorghum harvest is completed. We’re cutting now and don’t want any sprouting grain.”

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