Texas Crop Weather: Continued Rains Benefit Crops but Also Pigweed

    More rain over the Texas High Plains and Rolling Plains continues to improve the growing conditions for cotton, but also for weeds, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

    The weeds are particularly troublesome for cotton growers this year because of two reasons–the timing of the rains and glyphosate resistance, said Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension statewide cotton specialist, College Station.

    “I think are several reasons we’re seeing more weed-control issues,” Morgan said. “One is that we’ve had much better early season rainfall than we’ve had in the last three or four years. With the early season rainfall, before the crop is well established, the weeds are much more visible, and are much more competitive than if they emerge later.”

    Cotton is very competitive with weeds once it is established and growing well, he explained. Weeds emerging later in the growing season are shaded by the cotton leaf canopy and face greater competition for water and nutrients from mature cotton plants.

    “However, early season competition from weeds is much more detrimental to cotton yields than weeds emerging mid-season,” Morgan said. “This is because cotton is a perennial plant that develops slowly as a seedling and young plant, and especially this year with cooler than normal temperatures.”

    There are numerous weeds posing problems, but the No. 1 weed for most Texas cotton growers is Palmer amaranth, commonly known as pigweed, he said.

    Palmer amaranth, commonly known as pigweed, has been one of the most problematic weeds i n Texas for many years, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts. The development of glyphosate-resistant pigweed has made a tough weed, even tougher to manage for High Plains cotton growers. A new publication,

    High weeds in young cotton rows. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Gaylon Morgan)

    “And what we hear the most about now, is glyphosate-resistant pigweeds, meaning that Roundup or glyphosate will not control these pigweeds,” Morgan said. “It was in the last four to five years in South Texas that we’ve had more and more reports of glyphosate-resistant weeds. I believe it was in 2011 that the recognition of glyphosate resistant pigweeds really became widespread in the High Plains.”

    Morgan and his colleagues recently published the “4‐Step Program for Managing Glyphosate-Resistant Pigweeds in Texas Cotton”.

    “The publication basically outlines the different approaches for managing or preventing glyphosate-resistant pigweeds in cotton,” he said.

    AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week encompassing June 16 to 23:

    Central: After recent rains, nearly all counties reported good soil moisture, rangeland, pasture, crop and livestock conditions. Though slowed by earlier rains, the wheat and oats harvests were mostly finished. Stock-water tanks and creeks were full, and forages were plentiful for livestock. Hay producers were busy baling, the first cutting for many. Grasshoppers continued to be an issue in pastures and cro ps. The rains spurred the development of grain sorghum. Cloudy and cooler weather delayed fruiting of cotton. The low cattle inventory was expected to prevent pastures from being overgrazed, which means the chances were good that stands will be able to rebuild root systems damaged by the drought.

    Coastal Bend: Hot, humid weather prevailed. Grain sorghum and corn neared maturity. Cotton was fruiting at a good pace. All crops and rangelands were in fair condition, but more rain was needed. Most cow-calf operators finished working calves and have picked bulls for the season. Replacement costs and availability were a concern for those wanting to rebuild herds. Hay yields were good.

    East: The region continued to have excellent growing conditions. Recent rains improved soil moisture, and stock ponds were full. Pastures were in excellent shape. Warm-season forages were doing extremely well. Hay baling was in full swing in some areas. In Henderson County, hay harvesting was slowed by spotty showers and thunderstorms. Wood County reported poorer quality hay due to cutbacks in fertility programs because of high fertilizer prices. Vegetables were being harvested and marketed. Armyworm infestations continued to be reported, and grasshopper populations increased. Livestock were in good condition. Feral hogs were active.

    Far West: Conditions remained hot, muggy and dry across the district. The exceptions were Glasscock County, which received 2 to 4 inches of rain, and Presidio County, which reported getting light showers to 0.75 inch. Burn bans remained in effect. After struggling with seedling diseases and other problems, most fields of cotton were squaring. Pastures declined with no new growth. Producers continued providing supplemental feed to cattle as well as wildlife.

    North: Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate throughout the region, with a few counties reporting short levels. Highs were in the 90s. Hopkins, Kaufman and Van Zandt counties reported light showers. Collin County wheat was 60 to 70 percent harvested, with slightly above-average yields of 50-60 bushels per acre. In Fannin and Lamar counties, the winter wheat harvest was coming along well. Corn, sunflowers and soybeans were in good condition in Collin and Fannin counties. Camp and Rains counties reported soil moisture was declining. Livestock were doing well across the region. Hopkins and Kaufman counties reported high grasshopper populations.

    Panhandle: Temperatures were near average, and most counties received more rain, which benefited crops and weeds as well. Corn was in good condition, with many fields at the 10- to 13-leaf stage. There was some hail damage, but no fields were a total loss. Sorghum development varied widely, depending on when it was planted. The earlier plantings were doing great with excellent growth. However, many producers were having to rotary hoe the later-planted sorghum to assist it in emerging through crusted soils. Cotton was slow to develop, with many plantings at the four- to five-leaf stage. Irrigated wheat was 10 to 14 days away from harvest. Most Randall County wheat will not be harvested for grain. The few fields that were harvested had low yields, about 10 bushels per acre. Early planted irrigated cotton needed more sunshine and heat units. Late-planted dryland cotton was in good condition. Sorghum fields showed rapid growth after the recent rains. Range and pastures were greening up and growing but continued to be rated very poor to poor.

    Rolling Plains: The wheat harvest was nearly finished, with most producers reporting below-normal yields, as well as some fields that were not worth harvesting. Cotton planting was also wrapping up, with irrigated fields in good condition, but only a few dryland acres planted. Rangeland and pastures were improving. Lake levels were still low. More significant rains were needed to fill stock-water tanks and lakes. Cattle body condition scores continued to improve. More stocker cattle were being turned out to graze. The recent rains should assure a good hay crop, and help peaches and pecans.

    South: The northern part of the region had hot, humid weather with a few showers. Crops were progressing well, peanut planting was completed and the potato harvest was in full swing. In some of the northern counties, high temperatures and lack of rain resulted in poor pasture conditions. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued at a steady pace. Stock-tank water levels continue to drop. Conditions in the western part of the district were much better. Most counties had rain, from scattered showers to as much as 8 inches in parts of Maverick County. The exception was Zapata County with high temperatures, no precipitation and high risk of wildfire. Corn, sorghum, cotton and pecans made good progress. The eastern part of the region had hot, dry and windy conditions. Topsoil moisture was evaporating, and crops were declining. Rangeland and pasture conditions also worsened. In the southern part of the district, high t emperatu res were speeding the maturing of crops. Some harvesting of grain sorghum began. Corn was maturing and drying out quickly. In Starr County, farmers were preparing for harvesting small-grain crops. Rangeland and pastures were beginning to show signs of heat stress.

    South Plains: The region received more rain along with some high winds and hail. Rainfall amounts varied from 0.5 inch to 2 inches. Many producers were using sand fighters — specialized tillage equipment that creates clods and slows wind-blown soil erosion — to prevent damage to crops. Hale County reported severe crop damage due to disease from standing water. Producers will be replanting several thousand acres. Dawson County cotton growers had to replant 30 to 40 percent of the crop. Many farmers were choosing to plant sorghum rather than replant cotton. According to integrated pest management reports, cotton development ranged from just-planted seed to the six true-leaf stage. There were some thrips found, but not at high enough populations to treat. Producers throughout the region are applying herbicides to control weeds that emerged after the rains. Warm-season grasses were growing. Livestock were in good cond ition wi th no supplemental feeding.

    Southeast: Soil-moisture varied widely throughout the region but was mostly in the adequate range. Some counties reported from 80 percent short to as much as 90 percent adequate. Rangeland and pastures ratings varied widely too, from fair to poor, with good ratings being the most common. Crops were progressing well in Chambers County. Armyworm infestations started posing problems about two weeks ago, but recently tapered off. The rain showers in Montgomery County became less frequent, allowing a number of hay fields to be cut and baled. Yields were near average. Parts of Orange County received significant rains while others were left dry. The top priority in many counties was making hay. Grasshopper populations increased.

    Southwest: Warm weather and scattered showers promoted the growth of row crops and pastures. The moisture also meant that producers had to contend with late flushes of weeds and invasive species. After 3 to 14 inches of rain, there was minor flooding. In the Hill Country, several hundred goats were lost due to high water. Hay harvesting continued. Cotton and sorghum planting was running strong. Livestock and wildlife remained in good condition.

    West Central: Temperatures were below average with high humidity. Highs were in the low 90s; nighttime lows in 60s to 70s. Soil moisture remained good. Many areas reported scattered showers. Cotton planting was nearly finished. Some planting was delayed due to wet conditions in the fields, but was expected to resume soon. The small-grain harvest was mostly complete. Hay grazer and grain sorghum were up and growing. Coastal Bermuda grass pastures were progressing well, and producers expected to take their first cuttings soon. Grain sorghum looked good too. Some corn was damaged by high winds. Rangeland and pastures were rebounding and in good to excellent condition. Livestock remained in good condition and continued to improve. Livestock producers were able to slack off supplemental feeding of cattle.

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