Cotton – Midsouth – A Disjointed Crop Moves Into August – AgFax

    David Bennett, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    More fields are at cutout or approaching it. Those fall into that general category of “cotton planted on time,” which is a smaller-than-average part of the crop this year through much of our coverage area.

    Open weather has mostly been the case since our last report, but rains continue in parts of Louisiana where Hurricane Barry dumped substantial amounts a couple of weeks ago.

    Plant bugs and bollworms are heavy in spots, but widespread problems haven’t developed.

    Recent rains raise the prospects for target spot and other diseases.

    Also of Note: In our links section, connect to a report from Tennessee on problematic grass control in Xtend cotton. Also, you’ll find Jeff Thompson’s latest market outlook and an overview on how corn might recapture acres from cotton in 2020.



    Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi:

    “Our cotton ranges from the first week of bloom to 4 or 5 nodes above white flower. The crop is up and down, with fields that look great and others that are weak. I attribute weak areas to late planting on mixed to heavy ground and poor early development.

    “We continue to dig around in blooms for escaped worms. That’s in both Bollgard 2 and Bollgard 3 – some with insecticide, some without. We find an occasional 2- to 3-day-old worm under bloom tags going into bolls.

    “Aphid pressure has passed, although spider mites have been widespread and applications have been made, mostly in combination with other treatments.

    “Growers are waiting to see if the predicted rains fall today (7/29) and tomorrow before irrigating. If we don’t get rain, we’ll start pumping later this week.

    “Our corn is through and looks good. If the weather holds, at least one grower will cut a sample this week.

    “Soybeans range from V-12 to R-5.7. Bollworms are building in much of the late-planted crop, and we treated several fields last week. We’ve put Heligen in some beans with moderate populations.”

    Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri:

    “We’re treating plant bugs full swing, and aphids are increasing. Plant bugs are at threshold in some fields. Where we treated last week, plant bugs are below threshold but remain a threat.

    “Target spot is a large concern and fungicide treatments are likely. Rain is coming, and a string of cloudy days will likely follow. I’ve seen some of the ‘weird-looking’ cotton around. It isn’t widespread here, but it’s more prevalent in certain areas.

    “We’re ready to finish this cotton and are going heavily with Pix to maintain control. It’s been a frustrating season in many, many ways.

    “In soybeans, we’ve dodged major pest problems with only a few stink bugs – greens and browns – and worms.”

    Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

    “Over 5 inches of rain fell across several recent events. Much of the cotton has been blooming for a month and we’re at or past peak bloom. We’ve taken care of plant bugs and stink bugs, mainly greens, over the last 2 weeks. Our cotton is clean and growing well.

    “We may be at our last Pix application and are running 3 and 4 nodes above white flower. Hopefully, another 4 inches of gentle rain will fall through August, which would top-up the yields over the next 30 days. It’s worth noting that we’ve had 45 inches of rain so far this year. We’ve hit our monthly average or gone above it every month since last September. So, we don’t want August to break that trend.

    “We suspect that a handful of plants may be infected with the blue virus disease, although it’s nothing to be worried about – maybe a single plant per 1,000 acres of cotton.

    “In places, prickly sida is scattered around, but we aren’t finding escaped Palmer amaranth. The Xtend program has performed well, and we’ve followed it with Liberty/glufosinate. Xtend is performing much like Roundup did in 2000. The question is: ‘When is the system going to break?’”

    Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:

    “The youngest cotton is at early bloom. The oldest is 3 nodes above white flower, and we treated it 2 or 3 weeks ago for bollworms. Moth trap numbers are dropping and eggs are running 10% to 15%.

    “Plant bug pressure has trended lighter for the last 10 days, although we’re still treating. Spider mite populations are light and aphids are gone.

    “It would be great if the weather would cooperate. Target spot and bacterial blight are picking up in several varieties.

    “We’re still very wet after Hurricane Barry dropped up to 9 inches of rain along the Mississippi River fields. West of that in Catahoula Parish, 4 to 5 inches fell. It’s stayed wet ever since then and over an inch of rain fell yesterday.

    “The crop looks promising if we can just get some dry weather. For the first time in 30 years, I’m seeing cotton throw off small squares for no apparent reason and this isn’t due to plant bugs. Usually, cotton will abort small bolls behind a big rain, but this is different.

    “We’ll be in full swing with corn harvest in 10 to 15 days. I don’t think it’s a bumper crop but our corn should be good. Roundup went out on the milo, and it will be ready for harvest in a week.


    “We’ve also desiccated about 4,000 acres of soybeans that’ll be ready to harvest in a week. We are spraying the R-5/R-6 soybeans for a mix of stink bugs in Concordia Parish. That includes redbanded stink bugs. Applications for corn earworms have been going out on younger beans.

    “Hurricane Barry damaged a substantial number of acres of soybeans. Our rivers – the Mississippi, Black and Red – are high now and that water can’t recede. We already had acres that couldn’t be planted due to the water, and now another 3,000 to 4,000 sustained damage from the hurricane.”

    Andy Graves, Graves Agronomy Service, Clarksdale, Mississippi:

    “Our cotton ranges from fields that only began blooming 2 weeks ago to older cotton at 4 nodes above white flower. We began irrigating today (7/29), even though there’s a chance of rain.

    “Plant bugs have been light for several weeks. Aphids have been spotty and we’re finding a lot of fungus, so we’re letting Mother Nature do her job.

     “We began picking up a bollworm flight about 12 days ago. The egg lay has been intermittent, with more substantial numbers in the older cotton. Last week, we found worms running 4% to 20% far down in the canopy. So, we’re making Prevathon and Besiege applications and adding Zeal for spider mites. 

    “I picked up bacterial blight yesterday. Target spot is present, too, but the crop should be able to outrun it. Johnsongrass and barnyardgrass have been challenging to control.

    “A few bollworms are present in our younger soybeans, although we see plenty of moths. I’ve picked up several redbanded stink bugs in my sweeps – but those were in cotton. That’s alarming, considering what’s been applied on cotton so far. Last year’s extremely mild winter may bite us because we have some very late soybeans.”

    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

    “The plant bug battle has heated up, and plant bugs continue riding into many fields in south and northeast Arkansas. You’ll spray but then plant bugs are back in 5 to 7 days.

    “Aphid numbers ticked up in the northeast corner of the state. Mainly, I’m advising people to wait until plant bugs hit treatment levels and then use something like Transform to control both.

    “Bollworms are hitting cotton from Marianna south to the Louisiana line. A tremendous egg lay occurred in the last 4 or 5 days, and Prevathon or Besiege went out. It’s rather interesting that we’re not catching as many moths in traps as expected. We’re certainly kicking them up in the fields, though.

    “It appears that the late soybeans will be a costly crop to bring to harvest. The flight of bollworms in western Arkansas continues, with numbers increasing. That trend is now beginning in the Delta region. Some virus is being applied but diamides are going out, too.

    “High numbers of brown and green stink bug and egg mass numbers remain. Redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) are also rising up, particularly in the southern half of the state. We’re finding immatures all the way up to Stuttgart. Be vigilant and scout hard for them. I predict that treatments for RBSB will start in the next several weeks.

    “Also, looper numbers are building due to Hurricane Barry blowing them north. 

    “Calls continue about sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum. Those are dogging the crop and treatments have gone out on about every acre.”

    Blake Foust, Consultant, Southern Heritage Cotton, LLC, Forrest City, Arkansas:

    “This has not been a fun growing season, and everyone seems eager to see this one behind us. Much of our cotton planted on time is at cutout, and it looks good. We may water some older cotton next week, and that should finish that part of the crop. The replanted cotton is up and down.

    “We’re standing on the cotton hard with Pix, and that’s been the story for the last month.

    “We’ve sprayed only four cotton fields for bollworms and haven’t seen many in soybeans, either.  Plant bugs fired up in the last several days, and I expect to be hitting them hard over the next several weeks.

    “It has been a challenge, but crops appear to be doing good on well-drained ground. The wet weather means we haven’t had a lot of days to get work done on time.

    “The milo is headed and looks fine. We’ve had to deal with green stink bugs in later R-5 soybeans. Peanuts look as good as they have in the last 3 or 4 years. They lapped early, probably because of the rain. But we’ve also dealt with weed issues in peanuts due to the rains and when we could apply herbicides.”

    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

    “We’ve had decent rainfall and crops seem fine, aside from drier spots in middle and eastern Tennessee. Cotton has good to excellent potential. Some fields will be at cutout plus 350 DD 60s next week – 5 nodes above white flower. So, that portion is out of the woods insect-wise.

    “The bollworm moth flight has yet to show. A couple of people reported light egg lays along the Mississippi line. Lack of moths or eggs has been a point of conversation among people in the field, and we’re running at least a week behind our average flight time.

    “Plant bugs and stink bug populations are mostly average, with a few hot places that required applications.

    “The corn crop is exceptional, with few problems. Scout early soybeans for stink bugs – greens, browns and brown marmorated. I don’t expect redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) until the end of the season, if at all. It takes RBSB too long to get this far north, although that may change if we have another warm winter.”

    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

    “With all the rain, we have some flooded fields from Alexandria south. Certain areas received 8 inches from Hurricane Barry and another 2.5 inches last weekend. Right now, there’s a deluge and we’ll end up with another 5 or 6 inches. With the rain and rank growth, target spot will likely become a problem. We’ve been through years like this with tremendous rainfall going into August, and that triggered fruit shed.


    “It will take 7 to 10 days to dry out, and growers in central Louisiana south will be out of the field for a significant time. Farther north, the cotton is inconsistent. The fruit load is ‘okay,’ according to several people. We won’t break any records this year but should have a decent crop in the Delta area.

    “The bollworm flight varies from heavy to nonexistent, and much of that difference depends on proximity to corn. The worms are hard to scout this year. It seems eggs are being laid deep in the canopy.

    “Redbanded stink bug (RBSB) populations have run high in south Louisiana soybeans for several weeks, with an influx this week in central Louisiana. In the northeast, numbers remain low, but they really tend to show up in August as soybeans reach R-5.

    “Corn harvest has started at high moisture – from 20% to 28%. Guys are jumping in the field early because they’ve been burned in the past by August hurricanes.”

    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

    “Bollworms are the main focus in cotton this week. Typically, you see a big flight and know it’s time to treat. That isn’t the case this season.

    “It’s aggravating because we’re not dealing with distinct moth flights but with a continuous trickle of eggs, and the number of worms and eggs in a field doesn’t justify a spray. However, 4 or 5 days later, you might find worms at threshold. This is particularly frustrating because once the worms are in the bloom tags, it’s challenging to get them out.

    “Unfortunately, we’ll sustain a little damage by the time this plays out. Generally, it’s not at economic levels, but no one wants to see it.

    “This variability in how bollworms are developing has something to do with all the late-planted soybeans this year, I suspect. About 70% of our soybeans, in fact, were planted after May 15. Normally, our peak bloom in cotton doesn’t line up with bloom on a wide amount of soybean acres. But that’s the case this year, and we believe that soybeans are drawing many moths that otherwise would have headed into cotton.”

    Like soybeans, cotton was hit by China with a 25% tariff last July and has been one of the trade-war casualties. 
    “Several cotton growers this year stated their weed control costs have doubled to tripled trying to control grass in Xtend cotton.” – Larry Steckel
    We will now wait to see if this advance has legs to stand on or if it will be short-lived, a product of market consolidation.
    How to spot it and approaches that help correct the shortfall.
    “I saw dryland cotton harvesting in Willacy and Cameron Counties.”
    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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