Larry Stalcup, Field Editor

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


This is our final issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton for 2019.  

We are grateful to Extension workers, crop advisors, dealer reps and others who took the time to offer insight about this year's cotton crop.

Many thanks to our readers who keep opening the AgFax e-newsletters!


We’ve got plenty of yield estimates with a wide variance depending on planting dates and the weather. Everyone will breathe easier when the 2019 crop is a wrap.

Plastic contamination is ripping a 5-cent premium from already low prices. John Wanjura, USDA, offers tips on avoiding contamination and dealing with moisture damage during storage. 

Pigweed seeds left in the field are a big threat for 2020 warns Peter Dotray.

Glyphosate-resistant weeds are getting more attention in Arizona and New Mexico.  

From our sponsor...


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

"Most of the crop is at 5 NAWF or less, and a good chunk is below 5. There are more blooms at the top. Yields could be respectable, but not as good as last year, which was phenomenal. Fruit retention is excellent, and yields could reach 1.5 to 2 bales in many cases.

"My biggest concern is whether there is a long enough season to mature the crop. Most of it was planted May 30 to June 4. To be that late, we need extra heat and time. We have a lot of young fruit. We hope for an open fall, and a late killing freeze.

"There are reports of aphids, which we usually don't see. They're showing up in fields that haven't been treated for stink bugs or other insects. In most cases, they are not a threat.

"It was a relief not to have bollworm problems, but we still need to scout for them.

"Discounting a few escapes, weed control was good this year."


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

"Harvest is about 90% completed, and farmers have defoliated their remaining fields. Gins are running full blast and modules are stacked as far as you can see. Grades also look good.

"Yields are all over the board, with an overall average of about 2 bales per acre ranging from just over 1 bale to over 3 bales. It all depends on the planting date and whether fields received summer showers."


Blayne Reed, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Hale, Floyd & Swisher Counties:

"Other than a few small showers, most fields have been dry since mid-June. There are some exceptional drip-irrigated fields. But for the most part, yield potential comes up short. Dryland fields are looking at 200 to 400 pounds per acre. Irrigated is 600 to 1,200 pounds but the majority of those acres will be about 800.

"It's too late for bollworm damage in 90% of the fields. They haven't been much of a problem, so far. There are low populations of spider mites and aphids.

"Dry weather is pressuring irrigated corn. Late corn couldn't keep up with low irrigation capacity. Other fields look better with yields in the 10,000-pound or about 180-bushel range. Where water is short, growers will give it up and go for 15,000-pound silage. Treatments are needed for spider mites in corn. They're also blowing up in sorghum. Sugarcane aphids are a constant issue in sorghum, but treatments are taking care of them."

From our sponsor...

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

"Irrigated production has been good after plenty of warm weather. Guys are managing their water and making PGR applications in growthy situations.

The white flower is not where it should be in the irrigated fields that were planted late. It’s not blooming out the top and is at or near the last effective bloom date. But much of the crop is at 2 to 3 NAWF and will be finished this week. That's perfect timing.

"For dryland, it's a different story for most growers. With so many 100-degree days and little rain, heat stress has hurt the dryland and even some irrigated. Early planted dryland cotton shed fruit and bloomed out the top in mid-August. The yield will be lower. Later planted dryland is just now ready to bloom out the top. It will get there, but the fruit won't fully mature.

"Dryland that received big rains recently will benefit. If it was far enough along, rain helped seal fruit sites.

"Stink bugs have been an issue for 2 to 3 weeks primarily in central and northern Oklahoma. Late planted fields with smaller bolls may need insecticide treatments. Guys still need to scout for stink bugs.

"If it's warm and dry in September and we have a decent early October, irrigated yields could be good after the poor start. However, dryland yields will be hurting for most parts of the state."


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

"There's not much insect pressure, but aphids are still out there. Their numbers are below threshold, thanks to good beneficial populations. A few spots needed spraying where late season numbers were too high.

"Bollworm pressure remains light, but growers still need to watch for them until cotton receives 350 heat units after cutout. Bollworms have been light due to late corn and sorghum. When corn and sorghum mature, there could be bollworm flushes.

"Stink bug pressure has decreased after requiring treatments in July."


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

"Growers are trying to fill bolls on later cotton. Earlier cotton is seeing its first round of defoliation. Potassium deficiency continues. Plants are not able to uptake the potassium needed to fill the boll demand.

"The only pests now are drought and high temperatures in the 100s. There are few aphids, and we're past the point in which bollworms, stink bugs and lygus bugs are a threat.

 "Yields will probably average about 1 bale per acre on the early planted crop. For later fields, it depends on whether they're in areas that received rain near the bloom stage."


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

"Heat stress trial data shows how much 2 weeks without the 110-degree-plus temperatures can help plants. Flowers are fertile and have good pollen.

"Much cotton is yet to make. It's 3 weeks from setting bolls. With the state's warm temperatures, flowers set through September 15 can still make a harvestable boll.

"Yields should be better than average, contingent on a favorable fall. The state average is about 1,500 pounds per acre, so we should top that. After a cool weather start, we made up time in late July and early August.

"I'm optimistic about the crop, but there's still insect pressure. Stink bugs have been constant in parts of the state with severe damage in some fields. Whitefly pressure has tailed off with a few treatments, but no explosion.

"Unfortunately, pigweed is a growing problem. Many fields have them, and they're likely glyphosate-resistant. If growers have pigweed, they need to get rid of it. Resistance is an issue in Arizona, and growers need to be on top of it."


Peter Dotray, Texas Tech University Weed Scientist (joint appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife), Lubbock:

"One bonus from the excessive August heat is that it has hindered weed production. However, irrigated fields or dryland areas that received rain could still see late-emerging weeds, likely amaranth pigweed and morning glories.

"Research suggests pigweed coming up in August can still produce 20,000 seeds. Those in September can produce 2,000, and 200 seeds can emerge from October weeds.

"Growers using cultivation may still have an opportunity to layby residual herbicides to carry them through the last cultivation to harvest. Hopefully, they can stay the course and manage late weeds that could hurt production next year.

"In preparation for 2020, growers should scout weedy areas, note which weeds are present and map spots with herbicide-resistant weeds. Also, be ready for another round of auxin herbicide certification training in 2020. Growers are required to be certified every year. Training sessions will have updates on the latest technologies and regulations."

From our sponsor...

Cody Noggler, Crop Quest Consulting, Northwestern Texas Panhandle:

"Everything is moving along. Plants are starting to fill bolls. Hopefully, they will use the remaining soil profile to get through to the end. Insect pressure is light as the crop winds down.

"After the cool, wet start that reduced the area's cotton production, remaining fields should see average yields. Dryland should yield about 1 bale per acre. Irrigated growers are hoping for 2.5 to 3 bales. But with fall weather still ahead, you can never tell until the crop is out of the field and ginned." 


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

"Defoliation is underway, and the crop looks good. Dryland is making three-quarters to 1.5 bales per acre. Irrigated yields are expected to be in the 4 to 4.5-bale range. With the low cotton prices, yields need to be near 4 bales to make it work.

"The region caught a break with minimal late insect pressure. White fly pressure has been limited, which is unusual. Root rot is still a problem where growers did not apply Topguard fungicide. It needs to be applied annually.

"This year a program of Roundup and Liberty helped control weeds and combat weed resistance. That's our best route right now, along with a layby application of Dual or Outlook. Growers may use more Treflan as a preemerge next year.

“With so many vegetables grown in South Texas, guys steer clear of Dicamba to prevent herbicide damage."


Robert Flynn, New Mexico State University Extension Soils/Agronomist, Artesia:

"It was 109 degrees Monday (8/26), and the area has had 38 days above 100 this summer. Growers are still watering to keep up with the plant demand. But unless they were able to maintain their irrigation program, it may be hard to reach average yields in the 4-bale-plus range.

"There is a good boll load, and the crop should be a good one as long as fiber quality holds up.

"There are still grassy weeds and pigweed in a few fields. They may be glyphosate-resistant. Insect pressure has remained low this year, which helped hold down input costs."


John Wanjura, USDA Cotton Production and Processing Research Ag Engineer, Lubbock:

"Round module or bale contamination is an expensive problem.  U.S. cotton lost a 5 cent per pound premium for plastic contamination last year.

"Make sure module wraps are properly installed in John Deere stripper or picker balers. Also, make sure RMB belts and laces-pins are adjusted to prevent wrap damage. Damaged wraps increase the risk of bale contamination.

"New detection and ejection technology from USDA ARS will be available to gins soon. It uses color cameras to see plastic and other contaminants in cotton. It's important to reduce contamination to prevent further dockage.

"High moisture cotton also damages lint and seed. If cotton is harvested too early and seed moisture content is too high, its color grade may be reduced, and moisture can create a rotted area 8 inches deep in a round module.

"Research continues on new moisture sensors to determine the safe moisture content that allows for long-term storage of round modules. Some gins are charging additional fees for processing cotton with high initial seed cotton moisture or high seed moisture. To prevent damage to lint and seed during field storage, keep seed cotton moisture below 12% before harvesting."

AgFax Southwest Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor , Editorial Director.
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