Cotton – Southeast – Defoliation On The Horizon – AgFax

    Owen Taylor, Editor | Subscribe to this report.

    Defoliation will likely start in scattered dryland fields in the lower Southeast over the next couple of weeks.

    Stink bugs continue to be the main point of interest as people scout, although plant bugs have certainly persisted in places. Treatments mainly continue in later fields.

    Bollworm activity has picked up, as well, and they will be a concern in areas with late plantings and doublecrop cotton. Some treatments are going out, either for bollworms or where both bollworms and stink bugs are active.

    Insect treatments, though, have been terminated on more of the crop since last week’s report.

    Target spot remains a factor in parts of the lower Southeast. It’s not raging like it has in some years, but target spot is bad in places.


    Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia: “We’re spraying stink bugs and bollworms and also have been putting out a little fungicide. Some bollworms passed through on WideStrike varieties and also in Bollgard, although not as many. I’m also finding something I’ve never seen before, the garden fleahopper. I thought I was coming across spider mite damage but finally found one of the fleahoppers. We’re not specifically spraying for it, but our bug sprays should be taking it out.

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    “Target spot has reared it’s ugly head, so fungicides have been going out. We’ve treated a few fields already and are starting applications in several others to get some protection in place. The weather is suppose to break this week, with lows down in the lower 60s, so that should give us some relief with diseases. Also, we have lower humidity coming in for the first time since May. This last weekend (8/22-23) was awfully hot and humid and tomorrow (8/25) the forecast says it will hit 98. But after that, conditions should moderate. At least that’s what the forecast says.

    “We’ve already sustained some boll rot in early-planted cotton that started opening 2 weeks ago. Angular leaf spot or bacterial blight are present, too. A bunch of our irrigated cotton is now starting to open and the bulk of our crop will begin opening early next week. I’m telling growers to get ahead of that and water while we have cooler temperatures and dry air, so maybe this next round of bolls will open without rotting issues.

    “We may start defoliating some dryland cotton in the first or second week of September, if not before then. Rain continues to be spotty. It hasn’t rained in some pockets all year. Overall, though, our dryland crop is in pretty good shape and looks above average. If we have the right kind of fall, we should make pretty good cotton.”

    David Butcher, NC Ag Service, Inc., Pantego, North Carolina: “It’s a little dry but not that bad in our area. It’s been drier to our north and west. Cotton is about finished and is flowering out the top. We didn’t have any late trouble with lygus or stink bugs except in cotton that had to be replanted. We sprayed most everything once for both stink bugs and plant bugs around the second or third week of flowering. Aphids developed a while back but the fungus took care of them.

    “We have had more trouble with plant bugs than usual and a few fields had to be treated 2 or 3 times. Mostly, that cotton was around more corn. In some areas they never built at all and in other cases we had isolated hot spots. We’ve had a little worm pressure in Bollgard and have been finding some worms coming through. Those fields were about to cut out, so I suspect that plants weren’t expressing as much toxin.”

    Brad Smith, Crop Production Services, Selma, Alabama: “We’re still making stink bug sprays in a few fields of the later cotton, and those tend to be close to corn. The crop is probably 20% open, maybe more in the older cotton where it could be a third or better open. We probably won’t defoliate anything until Labor Day, just on general principals.

    “We’re in reasonably good shape for moisture. A number of showers developed last week in central Alabama. Although they were spotty, many people got at least some and in places it rained over 3 inches. Our timely-planted cotton is just about done but the rain still should help fill out bolls in the top.”

    Luke Johnson, Johnson Scouting LLC, Donalsonville, Georgia: “Most of my cotton is at or beyond the seventh week of bloom. A lot is mostly safe from additional insect damage. We are continuing to water some, but in other cases we’ve cut off the water. Plenty of cotton is opening and within a couple of weeks we will need to begin defoliation. Some of the dryland cotton is surprisingly good, despite conditions.

    “The youngest cotton and our doublecrop cotton are moving along well, and most of that is at or around the fifth week of bloom. We are spraying a few stink bugs in that part of the crop, along with treatments in some older cotton. The insect pressure has been very light overall this season in my coverage area.”

    Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: “We still have to monitor late maturing cotton for stink bugs and mites but that’s about it. Some dryland cotton on deep sand it 50% open, I think. It’s not cotton you would brag about, but it would be close to defoliation. Any cotton that’s had better conditions would not be to that point, though.”

    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “Unless cotton was planted late, we’re about done with protecting it. If anything required attention in late fields, it probably would be stink bugs but this generally hasn’t been a bad year for stink bugs. We’ve been getting some rainfall over the last week, which probably would minimize spider mites.”

    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia: “I anticipate that some cotton will be defoliated in the next 7 to 10 days (from 8/25). That said, we still have quite a bit of later planted cotton that remains susceptible to insects. About the only thing still in the game are stink bugs. They range from light to heavy and have been variable like that all year.

    “We usually average about two sprays for stink bugs across the state, but how many treatments have been needed will vary from place to place. A small percentage of our cotton might not be treated at all, while a small number of acres could be sprayed three times before it’s all over. Some of this also depends on how intensively people are scouting.

    A quick reminder: our cotton and peanut research field day is September 9 in Tifton (connect to more info in our Links section below).”

    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “I’m still getting a trickle of calls from people trying to manage the top crop. A lot of cleanup sprays are going on. Several consultants have reported worms breaking through on Bt cotton. Some see it every year, of course, but they tell me that they’re finding a little more on certain varieties than they normally expect.

    “In most cases they’re finding large larvae inside bolls. We don’t recommend treatments at that point because the damage already has been done. One consultant said he’s seeing this across all four counties that he works. He said the larvae range from small to large, and he’s treating based on thresholds. This kind of mirrors the fact that we’re having a trickle of bollworms and moth activity. We had a peak flight this year but it’s been drawn out, which you see now in the staggered ages in the bollworm populations.”

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