Cotton – Southeast – Heading Into The Final Stretch – AgFax

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

    Pam Caraway, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Plant pathologists continue confirming cases of cotton leafroll dwarf virus. So far, though, people in the field don’t foresee significant yield effects this season where they are monitoring it.

    Cotton is heading into the final stretch, pushed towards maturity by heat and drought. It’s still a bit early to count chickens before they hatch, but several of our contacts say much of the cotton they check shows good potential.

    Bollworm fears will mostly go unrealized this year. With more cotton racing into cutout and heat units rapidly building, bollworms and stink bugs no longer threaten a significant portion of the 2020 cotton crop.

    Southern corn billbug is emerging from a 20-year hiatus in North Carolina. It has arrived later than usual, too. See comments by Dominic Reisig.


    In this weeks links section, connect to:

    • Cotton Outlook: U.S. Production Forecast Higher. Southwest growers abandoned fewer fields than in 2018, which will offset yield slippage. 
    • Virginia Cotton: Points To Remember In This Pre-Defoliation Slot. Start judging when to pull the trigger.



    Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Virginia:

    “We are generally at cutout. We planted early, rainfall has been good and the crop accrued plenty of heat units. Fruit retention is strong, and about 80% of our cotton is past any danger from stink bugs.

    “Moth flights were spotty, and we continue measuring a reasonable amount of success with two-gene Bt cotton. With the crop about 10 days earlier than normal, we will start defoliating select fields in the first half of September. By the third week of September, a large part of our early cotton should be ready for those applications.

    “In soybeans, stink bugs and worms have been building. A number of producers are treating and others are scouting.”


    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:

    “We confirmed cotton leafroll dwarf virus in six varieties in sentinel plots. We are continuing to investigate and sample in commercial fields. Those plants with symptoms may be off their yield a little, but it’s only a few plants, and many of the plants around them are holding their bolls. Overall, I’m not seeing widespread symptoms, and the virus is not a significant issue.

    “Stink bugs and spider mites are still the main story in cotton. The crop is quickly maturing, so we’re approaching the end of stink bug management. Spider mites are still a concern in places. Rain is in this week’s forecast, so people are trying to decide whether to treat or hold off.

    “In soybeans, velvetbean caterpillar seems to be a little earlier than normal. We’re finding soybean loopers and the whole foliage feeding complex, but they’re mostly not at threshold. Our soybean threshold is 30% defoliation before mid-bloom or 15% defoliation after mid-bloom. We are seeing heavy pressure and treating kudzu bugs in a few fields.”


    Austin Hagan, Extension Plant Pathologist, Auburn University:

    “Ed Sikora (Extension Plant Pathologist, Auburn University) and I have confirmed cotton leafroll dwarf virus (CLDV) in 25 Alabama counties, and we expect to confirm it in a few more counties, as well. That said, it’s not prevalent. We can find more of it in south Alabama than in north Alabama, but none of it is significant at this time.

    “Growers should remember that CLDV isn’t the easiest disease to identify visually, especially when the crop is under drought stress. Symptomatic plants at this point are holding onto their bolls and still making a crop. We do know that this virus can reduce yields – as we saw in Baldwin County last year – but we are not detecting a yield impact yet.


    “Cotton tends to compensate for poorly performing neighbors, so that is also part of the equation. Continue checking for it.

    “In peanuts, keep your eyes open for peanut rust because it has been reported in Georgia. Growers may need to shorten up their spray intervals and confirm they have products in their program that are effective against peanut rust. It’s a disease that can get out of hand.”


    Brad Smith, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Selma, Alabama:

    “We accumulated plenty of heat units in the last 10 days, and it’s been dry. I ran a water hose at home for 30 minutes this morning and didn’t accumulate any surface water. We could start defoliating 5% to 10% of the cotton next week. If it rains to any extent, insect scouting will still be required in the later planted cotton. Insect pressure has been incredibly light this season, but we need to stay on guard.

    “Insect pressure remains low in soybeans, but the hot, dry weather isn’t doing our soybean acres any good. We will start desiccating Group IVs in the next couple of weeks. Yield will depend on whether it rains this week. Some Group Vs planted on dryland received rain, so they might make 35 to bu/acre. Yield this season is going to be all about planting date.

    “Dryland corn, which is most of our acreage, is disappointing. Yields are 75 to 125 bu/acre. Irrigated corn looks really good, with yields around 200 to 225 bu/acre. Depending on the field, that corn was irrigated eight to twelve times, making it an expensive crop.


    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:

    “Insect activity is picking up. In cotton, we’re expecting our biggest moth flight later this month or in early September. We’re also hoping they will behave normally, which means they won’t materialize in the field.

    “Corn growers in eastern North Carolina, including our Blacklands region, are encountering an increasing level of problems with Southern corn billbug. It was a major yield-limiting pest about 20 years ago but then disappeared with the advent of neonicotinoids. Now, they reemerged in areas where we have problems getting water off the field. We don’t have a plugin solution for billbugs. One grower is going to adjust his rotation and planting date.

    “This is usually an early-season pest, which causing stunting and tillering. Now, though, the larvae are feeding in the bottom of the plant, which will lead to yield loss. It’s probably more widespread than we know. Where billbugs aren’t present in a field, that corn should yield well. That’s a reason they grow corn in eastern North Carolina: it’s good corn ground.

    “People have called all season about maggots in corn. Essentially, they are not a corn pest and are harmlessly feeding on old residue in no-till fields.

    “In soybeans, the dry weather seems to be triggering a small amount of lesser cornstalk borer activity, which is something we don’t see every year. An assortment of foliage feeders is present. Loopers are moving in early, and one grower had to treat kudzu bugs, which also hasn’t happened in many years. We’re not treating every acre and plenty of areas have no pressure at all, but heavy and unusual problems have developed in spots.”


    Jack Royal, Royal’s Agricultural Consulting Co., Inc., Leary, Georgia:

    “We are in a Catch 22 situation. We have dry pockets that need rain but also have fields in the eighth or ninth week of bloom that are starting to open, and we don’t want the kind of rain that could prompt boll rot. About 80% of the crop is in the sixth to ninth week of bloom and 10% to 15% is in the second or third week of bloom, with a small percentage is in between those two.

    “Most of the bolls are too big for stink bugs to hurt. We haven’t sprayed any cotton with a fungicide and still haven’t seen any disease. Plants have set a good crop, and we hope nothing comes in and busts us up like the hurricane (Michael) did last year.

    “In peanuts, dryland acres are suffering, and irrigated fields look good. Most of our acres are on a strong fungicide schedule with premium products. With the pressure we have, you better put out a premium fungicide. We treated 60% to 70% of our peanut acres for foliage feeders – corn earworm, velvetbean caterpillar and a few loopers.

    “We sprayed very little up until the last two weeks. We’re using a good bit of the diamide chemistry that gives us long residual, and that should carry us to the end of the season.

    “Corn is yielding around 225 to 275 bu/acre, with the yield varying with irrigation capabilities. The majority of our corn went into grain bins, and we’ll hold it until this fall and hope prices improve. If you’re in corn production for the long haul, you definitely need to put it in grain bins. A lot of corn sells out of bins in December or January at higher prices than you can get selling at harvest.”


    Bryce Sutherland, Extension Agent, Worth County, Georgia:

    “We are about 10 days from defoliating our oldest cotton, which is about 10% to 15% of our acres. We planted more than 20% of our crop in April this year, which is earlier than usual. The whole crop is running two to three weeks ahead because of the heat.

    “In a good deal of our younger fields, we are battling stink bugs, and more fields are reaching threshold for silver leaf whiteflies. With the right timing for a whitefly treatment, we might make it to the end of the season with a single spray. If stink bugs are at threshold, we need to consider whitefly pressure when we decide whether to spray those.

    “In peanuts, we started maturity clinics this week. The crop is clearly stressed, and vine decline is becoming apparent in a small percentage of acres. White mold is prevalent, but strong spray programs are managing the disease.


    “In corn, we are happier with our yields this year than we were last year. On the best acres, we’re averaging 230 to 250 bu/acre, with a limited amount reaching 288.”


    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:

    “We are starting to find a good number of corn earworms in soybean, and our flight numbers have remained consistent. We are seeing soybean loopers, and a lot of the crop will need foliage for the next month or two, so I encourage people to scout and base any treatments on thresholds. In other words, don’t treat unnecessarily. When loopers move into soybeans, you can expect high numbers if a pyrethroid went out just ahead of their arrival.

    “Our normal bollworm flight is making people nervous if they have late-planted cotton. We’ve seen very few worms come through at this time of year, so I discourage that spray. A lot of our cotton went into early cutout because of the heat and weather, but my earliest stuff isn’t nearly ready yet.”

    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:

    “All the heat and drought combined to quickly push this crop towards its conclusion. We’re still facing tough decisions about insect management – mainly regarding stinkbugs and spider mites. With brown stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs in the mix, that means no pyrethroids because we don’t want to complicate the spider mite situation.

    “But the big question is whether we are saving enough bolls to justify a spray. If this heat continues, spider mites will defoliate parts of fields. Whether to treat spider mites or stink bugs is a field-by-field decision. Planting date is the most important factor when considering whether a spray can make a difference in yield.

    “Right now, it looks like any immature bolls will shed off the plants. Rain will help fill out bolls we have, but we won’t set any new fruit.

    “This week, the first call came in about silverleaf whiteflies. Whiteflies are not out of control, but enough pressure has developed in places to make people nervous. Things can happen fast with whiteflies, and you can suddenly go from too early to treat to too late to treat.

    “Base treatment decisions on Georgia’s threshold: 3 to 5 immatures on 50% of a sample of the fifth expanded leaf below the terminal. Irrigation will suppress whiteflies. In the absence of irrigation or rainfall, we have a state label to apply Knack at 5 oz./acre two times. With good timing, we may be able to apply one time to carry us to the end of this season.”


    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “Silverleaf whiteflies continue to build, and we are seeing them in many areas – but primarily treating in historic areas. Rain is in the forecast, but remember that once whiteflies establish a population, they don’t go away. The rain may delay them a little, but we need to continue scouting.

    “Just about every other pest, including stink bugs, is in a hit-or-miss pattern. Scout every field because we can’t provide a magic formula to predict where they will or won’t hit treatment levels. Aphids are building in some areas, but we expect those populations to crash due to the fungus.

    “In soybean, we’ve detected an uptick with velvetbean caterpillar, which can be voracious feeders. Scout closely and treat where they meet threshold.”

    With improved growing conditions this season in the Southwest — compared with a year ag0 — 2019 abandonment is projected to be significantly below last season and below the 5-year average.
    “I expect to be walking in fields the week of Labor Day being able to make defoliation recommendations.” – Johnny Parker
    AgFax Southeast 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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