Cotton – Midsouth – More Open Bolls But More Rain, Too

    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 bolls are opening and the crop is moving toward harvest, at least the portion of it planted on time. Rain and cloudy conditions are raising concerns about heat unit accumulations, aside from worries about disease and boll rot.

    Plant bugs and bollworms continue to be a problem in isolated areas. A big chunk of the crop, though, has moved past the point that insects matter.

    Corn harvest is progressing in the southern portion of the region. Dryland yields are expected to be good, thanks to frequent showers during the summer.

    Desiccation sprays are going out on early-planted soybeans through much of the Midsouth. In the later-planted crop, looper numbers are building and stink bugs are still a threat.

    Also Of Note: In our links section this week, connect to cotton market analysis by Don Shurley and Jeff Thompson, as well as crop updates from the Southwest and Southeast.



    With more cotton moving past cutout and defoliation cranking up, this will be our final regular report for 2019.

    Our thanks to:

    Amvac and its Midsouth Cotton Team for sponsoring this year’s coverage. We greatly appreciate their support.

    The folks in the field who update us on crop conditions and issues. We are grateful for their patience, knowledge and insight. This publication would not be possible without the help of these consultants, dealer personnel and Extension professionals. In a sense, they are the editors. We simply gather their reports and pass them along.



    Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi:

    “We’re through with 20% to 25% of our cotton, the portion of the crop planted in early May, and bolls opening. The ‘middle-aged’ cotton that we planted around May 18 will need one more treatment for plant bugs, and we’ll probably use a pyrethroid and acephate.

    “The late-planted cotton will likely require a couple of more applications. We found a big bollworm egg lay in one field this morning (8/26), and we will probably go with a diamide.

    “Overall, the cotton appears good. I only wish we had more heat and sunshine to finish it off. After mid-week, a drier trend is in the forecast for the following 10 days, so that’s good news.

    “We’re just beginning to cut corn. Yields are decent. On good land, averages are running 200-plus bushels. On heavier soils and in low spots, corn is cutting 150. The rains have slowed our harvest.

    “The mature soybeans are almost ready for a harvest aid. The crop at R-6.5 received a stink bug treatment. We sprayed younger beans a second time for bollworms. It seems the pests are congregating in the green beans and cotton.

    “Peanuts look nice, and we applied what we hope is our final fungicide last week. The crop is about 120 days old, so maybe that last spraying will take us to the house. We’ve encountered no problems with insects in peanuts this year.”


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

    “Cotton is spread out. Some fields are close to defoliation, which may start at the end of this week, and other fields are only in the second or third week of bloom. At the earliest, it will be mid-September before we begin any harvest. This is the first year in 40 that I didn’t see an open boll in July.

    “It’s not unusual for us to deal with plant bugs, but this year’s populations have been massive. We’ve let the older cotton go, but if the plants are blooming, it’s a given that plant bugs are present. We have a lot of ‘checker-board’ fields and must figure out whether they justify another spraying.

    “With bollworms, we saw some treatment slippage in the 2-gene cotton and the 3-gene has had a bit of damage. Most of our cotton this year is 3-gene.

    “The crop has a small amount of target spot, but we haven’t had the rains in this area that the Delta has seen, just sporadic showers. Overall, I’m not optimistic about this being a year uniform, great yields.

    “Some growers finished corn harvest and everyone else is cutting.”


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

    “We’ve turned loose about 80% of our cotton. A lot of fields are at zero to 1 node above white flower, with some open bolls. In several late fields, we’re still fighting plant bugs and bollworms.

    “I’m pleased with the boll load. With showers and clouds, this weather is a problem, and we need sun and dry conditions.

    “We haven’t harvested any corn but will begin as soon as the ground dries up. The same goes for rice. We have had to deal with rice stink bugs all season.

    “Our soybeans range from R-3 to R-6.5, with the majority at R-5. A few fields are ready for desiccation. About 10 days ago, we sprayed the majority of our R.3/R.4 crop for bollworms. As spread out as this crop is, we still may be harvesting at Thanksgiving.

    “Our peanuts look good, although we planted a little late. We’ve made three fungicide applications.”


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

    “Overall, cotton looks pretty good, but the story has not yet to play out. We need a dry harvest season, which we have not had in the last couple of years. I heard that the first defoliation application went out in this area today (8/28).

    “Plant bugs have been sporadic all season with just occasional hot spots. In another week or so, most insect applications will be terminated.


    “A limited amount of rice harvest started. If we stay dry, that should really be rolling within the next couple of weeks. Growers drained several fields last week.

    “Our corn harvest is 50% to 70% done. Yields are off 5% to 10% from last year’s average, which ran 180 to 190 bu/acre in Richland Parish. This year, frequent rains kept soils waterlogged at critical times and also caused nitrogen loss.

    “Stink bugs have exploded over the last two weeks in soybeans planted in mid-May. Mostly, they’re greens with redbanded in the mix.”


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

    “Going by termination rules, most of our cotton is safe. We are still checking about 30 fields for plant bugs and bollworms, and plant bugs have been a significant problem over the last couple of weeks. We haven’t seen as many bollworms as other people have reported. We’ve only treated a couple of fields just for bollworms, although we’ve changed our plant bug treatments to a pyrethroid-acephate mix. That approach probably has helped knock down much of the sporadic worm activity in the fields.

    “Soybeans are at R-4.5/R-5 and haven’t required podworm applications. Loopers, though, were beginning to build last week.

    “We’re not cutting corn yet. It’s been very wet, and we’ve caught several rains over the last couple of days. We thought we’d begin cutting this week, but the weather hasn’t cooperated.

    “We’ve maintained good weed control in our peanuts and held disease pressure in check with our fungicide regimen. If we have a good fall, the crop should be solid. We planted a few fields late but most went in on time – the last week in April to the first week in May.”


    Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi:

    “Hopefully, we’re finished with insecticide applications in cotton. Last week, we cleaned up plant bugs in cotton that was still blooming. A few bollworm eggs are showing up in 2-gene cotton, but those fields have almost bloomed out the top, so we decided to let them go.

    “We planted most of our cotton in a narrow window, and much of that has bloomed out the top. Probably 300 to 400 acres are still at two to three nodes above white flower.

    “It’s been wet all year, and a good amount of target spot has taken off the bottom 18 to 24 inches of leaves. Hopefully, that will promote air circulation and minimize boll rot.

    “Corn harvest has just started, and yields have been good. That’s encouraging because we haven’t hit our better fields yet.

    “In soybeans, some unusual situations have developed. In places, aerial web blight turned up in R-5/R-5.5 beans. Also, high numbers of garden fleahoppers built in several fields, and we are trying to decide what to do about them. There seems to be a correlation between the high fleahopper numbers and aerial web blight.

    “We’ve been watching kudzu bugs all season, and the population skyrocketed a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, the Beauvaria fungus kicked in and pulled down those numbers. Redbanded stink bugs are only appearing in spots, and we hope it stays that way.”


    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

    “Pest-wise, this is the final week for most cotton fields if control measures haven’t already been terminated. People let go of some cotton a week ago, and many folks are wrapping up the later fields now.

    “A pretty good bollworm flight developed, particularly in the Mississippi River bottoms. Of course, no one wants to spray this late but bollworms are forcing our hand in places. But if anyone finds high counts now, I am discouraging them from spraying.

    “We’re seeing target spot in quite a bit of our cotton, and it’s severe in some fields. But at this late stage, very few people will spray. Target spot may actually help by taking off bottom foliage, which would allow air to circulate and help prevent boll rot.

    “Corn harvest is progressing slowly because it’s taking a long time for the crop to dry down. We are expecting a strong crop.

    “A few thousand acres of milo are spread around Tennessee, and sugarcane aphids have developed in some milo and sweet sorghum. But I’m receiving more calls about the sorghum than the milo. Corn earworms are in the sorghum, as well, and we’re also seeing heavy infestations of corn earworms in some soybeans.”


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

    “We’re cleaning up the last plant bugs and bollworms, but most of our cotton has been let go. We’ve only held onto 10% to 15% of the crop. In our more advanced fields, about 20% of the bolls are open, and we’re maybe 3 weeks from defoliation.

    “Irrigation has wrapped up because it keeps raining. Target spot is picking up and we’re beginning to see a little boll rot.


    “We treated stink bugs in some late R-5 soybeans yesterday (8/26) – all greens and browns. Most of our beans are at R-4 to R-5 and have been sprayed once for bollworms, with a few fields treated twice. Loopers appear to be building in the beans. We’ll likely apply Gramoxone on some beans next week.

    “Two growers with batch dryers have cut about 30 corn fields at 25% moisture. Some hit 270 bu/acre, with the low just under 200. Everything we’ve cut is non-GMO corn, which is interesting.

    “None of our rice has been cut. A good deal of it went in late, but last week we did start draining earlier-planted fields. The rice looks extremely good, and I can’t wait to hear yield numbers. We’ll start applying salt late this week or early next week.”


    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

    “With this recent heat, cotton is rapidly finishing. No pickers are moving yet, but defoliation is underway. The forecast calls for favorable harvest conditions in central Louisiana over the next two weeks. Expectations are good for the early-planted crop, but everyone hesitates to get too excited. We’ve dealt with plenty of challenges this season.

    “Bollworms are still in the top canopy and feeding on thumb-size bolls. Many growers have exhausted their 2019 insecticide budgets and are letting the worms go. They can’t invest any more money in the crop, considering the market prices. I know guys who are still fighting heavy plant bug numbers in later-planted cotton. In spots, spider mites also are showing up.

    “In soybeans, stink bugs are hit-or-miss. Several people have asked, ‘Where are the redbanded stink bugs?’ Other callers tell me that significant numbers of redbanded stink bugs are concentrating in late soybeans. Overall, though, they haven’t been as bad statewide as we’d predicted.

    “Loopers are appearing, especially in the northern part of the state. We’re catching anywhere from 3 to 10 per 25 sweeps. The threshold is 36 worms per 25 sweeps, but we expect those numbers to jump in the next couple of weeks.

    “Corn harvest is making headway. The earliest-planted crop is out of the field and yields are fair. I’m hearing from 230 bushels per acre to 140, irrigated and dryland.”


    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

    “We still have late-planted cotton that requires management, but people also are letting go of a significant portion of the cotton now that it’s safe from insects. We’re in the home stretch for the bulk of our cotton acres. However, in a few places, we still see significant bollworm egg lays – 25% to 30% — and we are kicking up moths.

    “Pest concerns have shifted to soybeans. The two big things we’re dealing with are stink bugs and loopers. Loopers are in most of the state and numbers are increasing. Looper treatments have already gone out in a few fields.

    “We’ve been desiccating and cutting the earliest beans, and stink bugs are moving to green patches and quickly hitting thresholds, especially as fields approach R-6. Plenty of green, southern green and browns are present, but redbanded (RBSB) are in the mix in more and more places. It’s not difficult to find RBSB at some level in most fields. A fair number of acres have already been sprayed solely for RBSB or a combination of the four species.

    “Thresholds for greens, southern greens and browns are 9 per 25 sweeps until R-6. The threshold increases to 20 per 25 sweeps at R-6 and terminates at R-6.5. For RBSB, the threshold is 4 per 25 sweeps until R-6.5, then increases to 10 per 25 sweeps. RBSB treatments can be discontinued at R-7 – unless we run into frequent rainfall events that keep the beans soft. That’s a critical point to remember.

    “RBSB can infest plants and cause quality damage much later than the traditional stink bug species we deal with. As RBSB populations continue increasing, aim to harvest the latest planted beans as quickly as possible.”

    “We’ve got plenty of yield estimates with a wide variance depending on planting dates and the weather. Everyone will breathe easier when the 2019 crop is a wrap.”
    “Indeed, the dark cloud of uncertainty lingers as negotiations between the two superpowers show little sign of progress.”
    Will U.S. markets and trade eventually return to “normal” and, if so, when? Or, are we in for a longer-term complete restructuring of how we do business with China?
    Defoliation has started in the lower Southeast. However, growers will likely ratchet down their enthusiasm until they gain a better idea about when and/or where Hurricane Dorian will make landfall next week.
    Waiting to find the signature circular lesions could mean it’s too late to stop the disease from progressing.
    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.
    ©2019 AgFax Media LLC

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