Cotton – Midsouth – Early Defoliation Approaches – AgFax

    Owen Taylor, Editor
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    A handful of dryland fields in the lower Midsouth either could be defoliated now or are quickly reaching that point. Excessive heat, plus drought in places, has clearly pushed this crop.

    A heavy worm flight continues in parts of the region. While much of the crop has eased into the “safe” zone, this egg lay might prompt treatments in later fields.

    Spider mites linger. Fall armyworms, which can threaten somewhat larger bolls, are becoming more apparent in some areas.


    Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi: “We probably have sufficient moisture on 70% of the ground we work. The other 30% has been dry and is still dry. We are getting some showers today (8/17) and rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. Cotton has pretty much bloomed out the top. We sprayed a few fields for plant bugs about 10 days ago and for the most part are finished with applications.”

    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “Cotton is pretty much done. Most fields have bloomed out the top and accumulated 350 heat units. Some late cotton probably still needs treatments, but much of the crop reached the tail end of susceptibility late last week.

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    “We are starting to see a little fall armyworm (FAW) develop in cotton and spider mites are holding on in places. We have to stay with FAW until 500 heat units after NAWF 5, but they don’t appear to be a big problem in cotton at this point. I don’t know of any treatments that have been made specifically for FAW, although bollworm sprays last week would have covered them.

    “We have open bolls down south and in scattered fields in central Arkansas in the earliest planted cotton and even as far north as Marianna. These bolls are mainly in dryland fields and pivot corners.”

    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee: “We need rain in spots and haven’t had a widespread douser in places in a couple of weeks. People with cotton, grain sorghum and later beans are hoping for rain, and the forecast looks favorable. I don’t want to imply that things are burned up. We’ve had pretty good moisture but do have dry spots and nobody would turn down a rain today unless they’re shelling corn.

    “More cotton is being cut loose. In later fields we’ve had a little run of bollworms, particularly in WideStrike cotton, and a few fields require treatments. Stink bugs have been unusually light. Spider mites are around and people are deciding in late cotton whether to treat.”

    Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi: “We’re finishing up watering cotton and probably are wrapping up irrigation on any beans at R6. It rained good yesterday (8/16) up to Greenwood, with a half-inch in places north of there.

    “We’re about done with spraying cotton. I just looked at one grower’s 1,500 acres and will treat 300 acres where plant bugs pushed to the top and I found scattered worms here and there, too. On another farm I lined up 200 acres that hadn’t been treated in 2.5 weeks. Overall, things are coming to a screeching halt.

    “We have had a little uptick in worms in Bollgard cotton this year in several varieties, and I found enough that we treated some acres. We’re also spraying more leaf spot disease in cotton, I think. We can find target spot down low and then have some fungus-related diseases in the top. Some of that may relate to potash deficiency. People say they have ample soil potash, so maybe this is simply a big crop pulling whatever extra it needs from the plant.”

    David Kerns, Entomologist, Louisiana State University, Macon Ridge Research Station: “Cotton has done all it can do and there’s not a lot left to protect. While we still have bolls in the top, it would take a mighty worm to cause any real damage now. A lot of open bolls are turning up, too.”

    Trey Bullock, Bullock’s Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi: “We’ll defoliate some cotton in 7 to 10 days in the Hattiesburg area and along the Mississippi River south of Vicksburg.

    “Overall, cotton is done and has reached that point in a hurry. In 10 days or less some fields went from 7 to 8 NAWF to blooming out the top. Rainfall patterns have varied quite a bit this season. On the western side of the area I work we went from June 20 to last Tuesday (8/11) without rain, then got from a half-inch to 2 to 3 inches. That’s good soil but you can’t expect plants to maintain potential when you go that long without rain, plus endure days with 110-degree heat indexes.

    “In that area we averaged 1,500 lbs/acre over the last couple of years, while this year we’ll probably make 1,000 to 1,100. So, it’s not a horrible situation, just disappointing.

    “Back toward the east we didn’t get rain forever and ever in certain locations. Some soybeans started blooming last week that are only 6 inches tall, so in places it’s not a pretty picture. Bugs have really been light. That at least spared us from having to make tough decisions about whether to spray to protect that last fruit. Some of it, quite likely, was going to fall off whether it rained or stayed dry.”

    Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas: “We’ve turned all the cotton loose now and probably will wrap up irrigation next week, although it looks like rain will be here any minute (mid afternoon, 8/19). Just a few bolls have opened around the edges. Some are in dryland fields but I’ve also found a few bolls opening in irrigated fields.”

    Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi: “It’s been raining since yesterday (8/16) and we’ve gotten from 0.75 to 2 inches, with more rain in the forecast. We have open cotton and would just as soon not have rain on it. Maybe 15% of our acreage has bolls opening now and more are cracking. By this time next week 50% of our crop will have cracked bolls. The majority of our cotton was planted in a May 2-15 window but a little went in on April 30. We’ve sprayed just a few fields here and there for stink bugs, but they haven’t been heavy compared to what we typically expect.”

    Gary Wolfe, La-Ark Agricultural Consulting, Ida, Louisiana: “We haven’t had rain since early July, so dryland cotton is pretty much finished. Our main problem this year has been worms in Bt cotton and WideStrike varieties. Some of the WideStrike cotton is weak on worms. Staying on top of that has been the big challenge. But those are still our biggest yielders. The Phytogen 495 has that third gene and doesn’t appear to have had as much slippage with worms.

    “Our cotton is 90% irrigated and that part of our cotton looks fine. If nothing drastic happens, this will be a good crop. Some dryland cotton is ready for defoliation but the grower has other things going on. We’ve got a little acreage in an early variety that quit early and dropped it’s leaves. It actually could be picked now.”

    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist: “A lot of cotton is quickly cutting out. A pretty good egg lay is underway, which kind of complicates things for some people. They were on the verge of letting cotton go but now are reevaluating things and are wondering if they should treat. Our recommendation is to let them go if you’re hitting the right number of DD60s past cutout, which would be 350. It probably won’t pay to chase around a bunch of worm eggs in any fields where cotton is that far along.”

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