Cotton – Midsouth – Irregular Stands Mean Complications Ahead – AgFax

    Owen Taylor, Editor
    Questions, comments, complaints? My door is always open.

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by
    the Midsouth Cotton Team of AMVAC Chemical Corporation.


    Irregular cotton stands will be a headache for many growers and crop advisors until that last defoliation spray goes out. It’s not that every stand is out of whack, but more fields than usual have wide and odd combinations of small and large cotton plants. In certain cases, two- or three-leaf cotton is on the same row as plants with pinhead squares. This same situation, by the way, has taken shape in parts of the Southeast.

    Thrips are still active in places and treatments continue where necessary.

    Aphids have required attention in some areas.

    Plant bug sprays have ramped up over the last week.



    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

    “Cotton is transitioning into squaring on a wider basis and a few early fields are close to first bloom. In places, plant bugs are migrating into the crop. Numbers vary, from not bad to above-threshold counts.

    “Our oldest cotton is going into the third week of squaring, and plant bugs definitely are increasing there. Quite a few applications are going out. People are asking about using imidacloprid because it’s cheap and convenient, but we haven’t had good luck with it in recent trials and I’m trying to steer folks away from it.

    “If anything, it’s time to shift to Diamond with a knockdown material, particularly in fields with potential for a big influx of plant bugs – close to corn or near big amounts of natural hosts. In places, those wild hosts are loaded with plant bugs. We just made a random stop at a patch of coreopsis and were catching 50 to 100 plant bugs in 10 sweeps. They’ll be moving into cotton soon. Based on what we’re seeing, this could be a tough plant bug year. Do what you’ve got to do.

    “I’ve seen one case where corn earworms took out a bunch of terminals in Bollgard II cotton. The grower planted into weedy conditions, knowing he would come back over the top and kill the weeds. He wanted to avoid using a preemerge material because it might hold back the cotton.

    “Evidently, the weeds were loaded with worms. When they did spray the herbicide and kill the weeds, worms moved into the pre-squaring cotton and started working it over. They fed on leaves but the more serious thing was terminal damage. In places, they destroyed the terminals on 5 out of 10 plants. That will lead to crazy cotton and delayed maturity.

    “I don’t know how many cases are out there like that but I suspect this isn’t the only instance. This will necessitate an insecticide spray, which puts more pressure on resistance selection. Plus, lack of a preemerge isn’t the best approach to maintaining that herbicide technology. With weather delays, I’m sure that some growers had no choice. But for any number of reasons, going without the preemerge will hurt you in the long run.

    “In soybeans, stink bugs continue moving into pre-podding beans and folks report counts at a half to a whole threshold. But with no are present, the bugs probably will hang around briefly and then move elsewhere, so a treatment shouldn’t be warranted.

    “We found big numbers of stink bugs in wild hosts a lot earlier than usual, so we expect them to build later. Considering the soybean market, nobody needs to spray unless there’s an economic reason. In places, a pretty good population of threecornered alfalfa hoppers are in beans, plus we’re finding bean leaf beetles here and there – all the more reason to scout.”

    Gary Wolfe, La-Ark Agricultural Consulting, Ida, Louisiana:

    “With all the rain delays, weeds grew up in a lot of cotton and we weren’t able to get a spray rig in it until this last week. Where necessary, we added an insecticide.

    “Plenty of our fields go from sand on the high end to clay on the low end, which leads to a lot of variability in plant growth. That can influence insects, too. In some fields, we have thrips on one end and plant bugs on the other. Nothing is out of control but the crop is already late, so we’re trying to take some pressure off and keep anything else from delaying plant development. We still have cotton in the ground, too.

    “As things look today (6/17), I don’t expect any June blooms this year. With a late crop and the weather like it is, things are probably setting up for a heavy plant bug year, too. Alfalfa is full of them right now. They could get tough on the tail end of the season.”

    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

    “Cotton ranges from just emerging to blooming in spots. The biggest thing is how to manage different ages of cotton within a lot of fields. We’re still dealing with thrips in places, plant bugs in other fields and aphids in yet other spots.

    “Aphids are more widespread than we’re accustomed to seeing at this point in the season. Several sprays have gone out on really small cotton that was sapped up. In certain cases, thrips also were still active where aphids needed to be treated, and no single compound covers both insects.

    “More than usual, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all season, and I’ve never seen a year with so many different ages of cotton across the state or in the same field or even on the same row. Some stands are kind of thin anyway and we need to do what we can to protect those little plants that emerged later.


    “In places, thrips jumped on those seedlings, even though a lot of plants in the same field are past the thrips phase. So, we’re spraying 100% of the field to protect maybe 30% of the plants that are still vulnerable. That is a really unique situation.

    “Quite a few people have found higher-than-normal green stink bug numbers in soybeans that aren’t setting pods yet. This also gets back to the wide variability in crop development. We don’t have enough older beans at, say, R4 to go around, so stink bugs are holding up in younger stands. Any damage would be minimal in those fields and I’m advising folks not to spray.”

    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

    “The cotton crop is running about a week later than normal and pests are probably progressing about a week later, too. We still have small cotton in places and thrips are hanging on.

    “We’ve had an unusual amount of herbicide injury and late thrips injury, which is causing some confusion. But overall, the crop is in decent condition. We would certainly take scattered showers.

    “Plant bugs are picking up, maybe a little more than usual. People are saying that this looks like a plant bug year, but nothing right now is really out of hand. We’re still on a scout-and-spray program with plant bugs. We’ve had cases where folks sprayed older cotton for plant bugs and then had a reinfestation, so they’re making a second application.

    “A lot of our corn is beginning to tassel, and rain would be welcomed.  Wheat harvest is going fast and furious, and growers are planting doublecrop soybeans right behind the combines.”

    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

    “A big portion of our cotton now ranges from 10 nodes to first bloom. We’re starting to pick up a lot more plant bugs, and they’re definitely migrating out of corn and alternate hosts. More treatments went out last week and into this week. This plant bug migration is happening sooner than usual and it’s in progress pretty much across the state.

    “Aphids are out there, too. A lot of areas missed rain with this last system, plus it’s been hot and dry. That, in turn, pushed aphid activity and some treatments have been made. If the hot, dry weather continues, spider mites won’t be far behind.

    “The forecast does include better chances for rain over the weekend. Let’s hope that works out. Otherwise, we’ll have sun and heat for the next 10 to 12 days, which would certainly favor mites.

    “In soybeans, more treatments have started for redbanded stink bugs, especially in south Louisiana. Numbers continue to increase in north Louisiana but not to the point you would spray. A lot of brown and green stink bugs are in the mix, as well.

    “Corn earworm (CEW) moths are just starting to come out of corn, so things are setting up for that flight in the last week of June and first week of July. Compared to soybeans, our cotton is running somewhat behind its normal pace. So, soybeans may be more vulnerable to CEW than cotton when that so-called Fourth of July egg lay starts.”

    Eddy Cates, Cates Agritech Inc., Marion, Arkansas:

    “The week before last, it rained 7 to 8 inches that Friday around Truman and 1.5 to 2 inches across parts of my general area, although several locations didn’t receive that much. In places where the heaviest rain fell, some cotton and soybean replanting was necessary.

    “Our cotton now ranges from the smallest at the two-leaf stage to pinhead squaring and a little maybe even in the second week of squaring. So, this crop falls across a wide range.

    “In a few cases where growers spot replanted, we now have two-leaf cotton and plants at pinhead square in different parts of the same field. In other fields where cotton is at the fifth to seventh leaf, we can find cotton just emerging. This variability will complicate every decision all the way through defoliation.

    “We started spraying plant bugs last week in older cotton and activity has picked up. We’re also applying Pix. This has not been a very thrippy year but we’re still having to spray part of the later cotton. We have a few whole fields that are in the two- to three-leaf stage. Also, we’re dealing with thrips in a number of fields with mixed and variable stands. Even though the older plants are past the point that thrips matter, we still need to spray to protect young cotton from thrips as it comes up.”

    Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi:

    “Our cotton ranges from just emerged to 11 nodes. We started putting out some plant bug material last week and control looked good over the weekend. Depending on the variety and whether it might get away from us, we also included Pix. This is going to be a difficult season for making Pix decisions because we had to do so much spot planting and stands are irregular.

    “We’re working to clean up fields. A lot of guys weren’t able to get their burndown applications out and ended up planting into a mess. Pigweeds already were big, and we couldn’t start clean. We got one dicamba application out, plus came back in a few places with Liberty.

    “In soybeans, we’re finding an occasional bollworm or stink bug but most of my beans aren’t podding yet. We’ve cleaned them up pretty good with herbicides. It rained a half-inch in places on Sunday (6/16) but we need some more.”

    David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

    “It rained again yesterday (6/16) and heavy winds came with it. On one farm, 2 pivots blew over and about 50% of the corn was taken out by green snap. I understand that a lot of corn snapped near Jonesboro, too. The damage wasn’t widespread but it moved from one side of my territory to the other.

    “The rain continues to complicate whatever we need to do. In places, we’re waiting for things to dry up enough that we can spray plant bugs and apply Pix.

    “Cotton is moving along nicely. Most fertilizer is out. Plant bugs picked up in the last two weeks and we’re spraying in places. We also had to treat about 1,000 acres for aphids last week. It was in an area where we hadn’t sprayed anything else, so it’s not like we caused them, and they were pretty bad.

    “Two of my farmers have had a rash of thrips. With a few exceptions, their fields have been the only ones where we’ve had to deal with thrips. I checked some older cotton today where I thought plants should have outgrown thrips but they’re still hurting it. We had to treat several fields yesterday and then several others today.

    “I’m not sure what’s going on with thrips on those farms. Other cotton around there hasn’t needed to be sprayed. In places, thrips are hitting 7- to 8-leaf cotton and taking out terminals. In 10 to 12 fields, we’ve now sprayed up to three times. We’re cutting down the number of thrips but immatures keep hatching out again.

    “As far as aphids go, I’ve never treated them this early. They were pretty bad and ramped up really fast from one week to the next. Colonies sprang up everywhere. Where the aphids built, that cotton was 6 inches shorter than in parts of the field that weren’t under pressure.

    “I don’t think we’ve laid out any polypipe in soybeans yet and the most advanced fields are at R1 and R2. We also planted a bunch of beans today where it didn’t rain and we are planting wheat beans, too. With all the rain, wheat was terrible and we’ll be lucky to average in the 60s (bu/acre).”

    Dennis Reginelli, Area Extension Agent and Agronomist, East-Central Mississippi:

    “In places, cotton is still struggling to come up to a full stand, especially where it was planted late. But where cotton is up, it’s starting to grow now that the weather is a bit more favorable.

    “With the early cotton, some of it looks really, really strong. In places, it’s been squaring for 2 weeks or more and the root system is taking hold. We’ve had thrips issues in places and threecornered alfalfa hoppers have been active, too. Some cotton is growing out of thrips pressure but other cotton is still in the middle of it.”

    Dale Wells, Ind. Cotton Services, Inc., Leachville, Arkansas:

    “Our cotton ranges from two-leaf to 10 nodes. In a lot of years, we’ll have a spread that wide, with a couple of fields that were planted late. But quite a bit of acreage this year is only at that two- or three-leaf stage, and everything is tilted more toward a later crop.

    “Until last Friday (6/14), we were hard pressed to find thrips anywhere. Now, though, we’re treating them on some of the replanted cotton and a couple of later fields. That’s the situation right now (6/18), but by the end of today, we might find more fields where thrips have built.

    “I’ve had to reverse my scouting schedule because of this. Up until this week, I’ve been checking our older cotton early in the week and then scouting the later cotton after that. But now we’re going into the later cotton first because the threat of thrips on younger cotton is greater right now than the potential threat with plant bugs in later fields.

    “We are finding plant bugs and I’m told that treatments have been made in the area. But in our cotton, we haven’t come across treatment levels yet.

    “A lot of corn is tasseling now and we’ve made sidedress applications and applied Afla-Guard, which we put on every acre. Even though rain is in the forecast this week, we’re watering corn. A couple of fields are really, really late and we want to push those. With the exception of soybeans planted in pivot corners, much of our crop is just coming up to a stand.”

    Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi:

    “Cotton is finally starting to grow and most is at 6 true leaves. We’re also finally past the point of being concerned with thrips numbers. Lingering damage is still evident in places but plants should quickly outgrow that.

    “We’re not hurting for moisture yet but could use a rain. With that last general system, it rained 2 to 4 inches through our area, even though it skipped a lot of the Delta.


    “In soybeans, we’ve probably suffered more deer damage this season than in the last 25 years. I thought we would get a break after the last rain, assuming that the vegetation in the thickets would be a little more tender and keep deer out of the field. That wasn’t the case, and we had to replant soybeans in a number of locations and abandoned a few small fields due to deer pressure.

    “In certain locations, we always have deer damage but this is the worst we’ve had in a long time.”

    Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana:

    “From 25% to 30% of our cotton is squaring and the rest should be to that point in a week or so. We had some acres planted with questionable soil moisture prior to chances for significant rain that did not materialize. So, we have some spotty stands. It’s raining again today (6/17) and we’re hoping that brings up the rest of it.

    “Overall, this is a later cotton crop than normal. Much of it wasn’t planted until the last 2 weeks of May and into early June. The biggest risk with this later cotton will be running out of heat units and then going into fall during hurricane season. We don’t always catch the brunt of hurricanes here but they still can deliver rain when late cotton is maturing. Warm October weather will certainly be needed to fill out those upper bolls.

    “On the positive side, most of this cotton came up to a good stand and has been growing well. We just need a good general rain to maintain the momentum.

    “We haven’t done anything yet for plant bugs and nothing I’ve personally looked at is squaring, although I do know that a small acreage of earlier-planted cotton in the area is squaring. To my knowledge, no one in my parishes has made any plant bug applications.

    “Growers have irrigated a lot of young soybeans and a big part of the crop was planted late, just like the cotton. A portion of the beans were planted in late April and into the first week of May. In places, though, beans planted in April took a hit from that dry spell. Growth slowed and they started flowering as soon as the fourth trifoliate, which is as early as I’ve ever seen that.

    “Where they could irrigate beans, a number of growers started earlier than normal and certain fields have already been watered twice. Farmers are pushing hard to put nodes on those plants.”

    AgFax Midsouth Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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