Cotton – Midsouth – How Much Longer Will Farmers Plant Now? – AgFax

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    Laykyn Rainbolt, 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.


    Growers planted a good deal of cotton in the Midsouth since our last report. Rains continue to stall progress in places, but the region has missed the kind of widespread systems that shut down everyone.

    Warmer temperatures and sunshine have helped coax more cotton out of the ground. Strong seed quality this year helped many growers avoid a potential train wreck, our contacts continue to note. Despite wet soils and frigid temperatures, plenty of cotton has come through okay. Replanting will be necessary in places, certainly, but several of our contacts expressed surprise at how little of that seems necessary where they work.

    How much more cotton will finally be planted remains an unknown. In the upper Delta, some growers are at least switching to shorter-season varieties. Better growing conditions seem to be helping late-planted cotton emerge quickly, which may encourage more planting past normal cutoff dates.



    Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Ventress, Louisiana

    “Our cotton ranges from cotyledon to two leaves. Initially, it was off to a good start, but then big rains and cool temperatures hammered us. A few acres of cotton on sharp sand are struggling, and that cotton even shows a little pythium. We’re closely watching it.

    “Cotton on heavier soils has definitely had too much rain.

    “We’re also dealing with field crickets. The high cricket pressure is hard to address, and we’re losing some stands. I think this is the first time I’ve really had to deal with an excessive number of crickets in cotton. The only treatment I have applied has been an acephate and bifenthrin tank mix. It’s hard to tell if it was effective because a big rain came after we put it out.

    “Corn looks to have excellent potential. The youngest corn has ear shoots visible now, so it’s around growth stage V15. The earliest planted corn is in full pollen. Scouting in the corn for southern green stinkbugs is ongoing, but we are not finding very many. Also, we have not discovered any southern rust in the corn yet.

    “Soybeans are anywhere from not planted yet to probably R2 growth stage on some of the really early varieties planted on sugarcane ground. They still have a lot of growing to do, and they’re still pretty small due to the cool temperatures and the rain.

    “A lot of my fields are right at the 10-year average for rainfall up to this point. We had quite a span of good weather, but in the last 10 days the fields have been on the wet side. We’re not complaining because we know a lot of farmers north of us and into the Delta were pummeled with rain, and a big portion of their corn was never planted.”


    Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee

    “It’s been another tough week. We were able to get a little cotton in the ground last week. Another rain system moved through on Sunday (5/17), so we are back on hold with a little more rain in the forecast this week.

    “We’re trying to figure out how much longer people should wait before switching cotton acres to soybeans due to delays. I’ve received a lot of calls recently about switching cotton varieties. Everyone starts with the question of what date should I switch from a mid-maturing to an early-mid maturing cotton variety, then from an early-mid to an early maturing variety?

    “With many farmers, that question eventually becomes: ‘When do I totally stop trying to plant cotton and switch to something else?’

    “On the northern edge of Tennessee’s cotton belt, we’re definitely approaching the point where we need to be moving away from the mid-maturing varieties and leaning toward those early-mid maturing cotton varieties.

    “We may have to be flexible on a specific cultivar, but we should be able to get a good quality early-mid seed at this point.

    “I think this will be the latest planted crop that I’ve ever seen. It’s for sure the latest we’ve planted in my five years here. On average, I’d say we are at least 10 days behind where we were last year. If we don’t see a break in this weather, that number will jump to 14 days really quick. We need to start moving in the next couple of days or we’ll see cotton acreage begin to decline.

    “We had some issues with wheat fields being hit harder by a few freezes than we initially thought.”


    Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi

    “We are still planting a little, but everyone is primarily done with their cotton. Cotton ranges from just emerging to most of it at second to third true leaves.

    “We haven’t seen any signs of thrips yet. After this cool snap, we’ll see if anything shows up once the cotton starts actively growing again. The next couple of nights (from 5/18) will be in the 50s, according the most recent forecast.

    “Rain moved through the area last night (5/17) but totals varied. Some people missed it altogether, but a couple of guys received two inches. When it dries up, we’ll hit the weeds that are emerging and also knock back the thrips to try and keep the cotton rolling along.

    “Our corn is anywhere from just emerging to six or seven leaf collars, but the majority isn’t real big yet. Peanut planting has started.”


    Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri

    “We haven’t made much progress with planting. Probably 30% to 40% of our intended cotton is planted, and some of that hasn’t emerged. About 10% of my own cotton is at a stand. The rest has had two good rains, so I don’t know how vigorous it will push on out.


    “It’s not normal for us to be this late planting cotton. We’re been talking about cutoff dates, and I think we need to finish planting cotton this week. Last year we wrapped up cotton planting between May 26 and May 28. The yields were actually pretty good from those fields. Granted, that cotton was on really good land, but it was planted late and harvested late.

    “You can plant cotton later than May 20 or May 22, but you start pushing more of your harvest deeper into November. The possibility of leaving ruts increases the later into November you go, and those ruts have to be dealt with the next year.

    “I looked at some cotton last Friday (5/15) that had a pretty good stand despite going through temperatures in the low 40s. It was a little on the yellow side since the chlorophyll hadn’t activated yet, but a little sun will take care of that.

    “We’ve been caught by rain after rain this year, and I’m not just talking about showers but genuine rain. It’s partly cloudy today, but a bit of sunlight is shining through. Our ground is still wet. I drove to New Madrid this morning (5/18) and passed field after field with standing water. I’m sure farmers intended for some of that land to go to rice, with soybeans filling in the gaps, but I don’t know what will happen to those acres now.” 


    Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas

    “I don’t have an exact percentage, but a big portion of our intended cotton crop has been planted. Some guys are done, others are almost done, and a few still have quite a bit left. The amount of cotton that growers have been able to plant mainly depends on how much rain fell on their fields, when it fell, how sandy the ground is and how fast it dries out.

    “Plenty of rain fell on a patchy basis in the last week, and there’s a chance (as of 5/18) for rain every afternoon this week.

    “A lot of our cotton is up. We planted a good amount of acres right before that cold snap, but we really haven’t had that big of a problem with cold weather. I’ve heard horror stories from Tennessee about some farmers having to replant a significant amount of cotton.

    “Out of a couple thousand acres I evaluated yesterday, we’ll replant 20 acres. Otherwise, nothing I’ve seen looks terrible. Stands are good, and seed quality has held up well. The main problem is simply being able to plant these last fields.

    “Soybeans are in a similar situation. Some guys have planted all their intended acres but others have none planted at all. Non-GMO growers don’t have any soybeans planted. But Mississippi County growers have planted a big part of their crop and most of that is up to a good stand.

    “I don’t think we’ve had any major issues with soybeans. Maybe a few low ends flooded out, but cold weather hasn’t really affected them. It’s nice to have good seed quality this year – with both soybeans and cotton – after the crazy year we had in 2019 with highly variable seed quality.

    “Our peanuts are in really good shape. We’re trying to get crack sprays out and clean up areas where we couldn’t make burndown applications. Some aren’t up to a full stand yet but I can’t think of any problems we’re having in the peanuts.”


    Brian Pieralisi, Extension Cotton Specialist, Mississippi State University

    “I haven’t seen an official number, but I think we’re pretty far along in cotton planting. I’d say what hasn’t already been planted will be this week.

    “Most of the cotton is off to a good start and most everything planted last week began emerging yesterday (5/18) and was up pretty good by today. No one has called about problems with emergence. One guy might have stand issues where he planted into a standing cover crop, and I’ll look at that tomorrow. Overall, though, it’s been pretty quiet. No news is good news, I suspect.

    “Depending on if the weather stays dry, we might have thrips issues. But if we receive some rain, thrips won’t be an immediate concern.” 


    Trey Bullock, Bullock’s Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

    “We’re 80% planted, I’d say, and a lot of that planting was done last week. The cotton I’m looking at today (5/19) is just busting the ground. A small amount of my cotton also was planted in the last week of April.

    “I looked at plenty of cotton fields today and there were no issues – because very little of it is up and there’s nothing to have any issues on yet. But a good deal of my cotton will be up in two days. What I do have up looks good. We’ll have a little to replant due to heavy rains last week in one area.

    “Since last Thursday (5/14), the rains on our cotton were more like they had been prescribed. They were exactly what struggling cotton needed to break through the crust. With our recently planted cotton, enough rain fell to pop it up, as well. The one exception was in Covington County. From 2.5 to 3 inches fell on fields I work there, and we’ll have to replant cotton and peanuts in that case.

    “The peanuts we have planted so far look really good, too.”


    Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist

    “Several people today (5/18) said they had been checking stands. Most are reporting thin stands – a lot of them with 1.3 to 1.5 plants per foot and a minimal number of 3-foot or longer skips. These fields are very worthy of keeping. A few farmers tossed around the idea of replanting. But as of late last week, I haven’t talked to anyone who’s in a serious replant situation across a significant number of acres.

    “One farmer late last week said he might need to do a little replanting, but he has a good stand on most everything else. A farmer from the Marianna area said this morning he’ll have a few replants but nothing big right now.

    “That’s all kind of encouraging. We’ve been taking stand counts on some of the fields that were planted the Thursday before the cold front came through, and we’re seeing pretty decent emergence on everything. The bright, sunny days really helped warm the soil and promote growth.

    “I’m scheduled to plant in southwest Arkansas around Lafayette County on Wednesday (5/20), which kind of surprised me that conditions were okay there. We tried to plant in Clark County around Arkadelphia, but they got around 4 inches of rain over the weekend.

    “We’re hoping to return to the field by the end of the week, weather permitting. A friend in Forrest City said they were able to plant most of the afternoon last Monday (5/11) and again after lunch last Friday (5/15), and that was all the planting for the entire week. It’s crazy.”


    Joel Moor, Moor Ag Services, LLC, Indianola, Mississippi

    “Most of our cotton is up. Growers were still planting some at the end of last week, and that’s not up yet, and I’m sure that farmers will plant a little more here and there over the next few days. A few showers fell over the weekend (5/16-17) in places, but not everywhere. In certain areas, we’re running out of moisture and cotton is having trouble coming up. But as far as we can tell, most everything looks good.

    “All of our cottonseed received an acephate overtreatment, so I hope we don’t have to deal with thrips.


    “Our soybeans range from just planted to about V3 to V4. We’re preparing to plow those older beans and then come back with herbicides where it’s been about a month since the preemerge application went out. We’ll come in with dicamba and either Sequence or a Dual/Roundup tank mix. In places, we may go with a Zidua and dicamba tank mix. That’s a little more expensive, but we might be able to get by with one pass.

    “Corn is up and going. Stink bugs are pretty light this year. I don’t think we’ve sprayed any and I haven’t heard of anyone else treating them.”

    Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana

    “We have about wrapped up planting the first round of cotton. We had to shut down for a few days last week because we ran out of moisture. A lot of those fields were rutted from last year. With all the disking, the soil dried out.

    “Rains over the weekend (5/16-17) were very welcomed. I think we will be able to finish some planting soon, and the rest of the cotton is up and looks good. What got planted towards the end of April and into the first week of May busted out of the ground quickly but then threw on the brakes as soon as it turned cold.

    “Where we planted cotton in the second week of May, rain followed and the soil crusted over. Then the weather cooled off and it took about 10 days before that started emerging. I’m a little worried about that part of the crop. It’s up, but 1.5 inches of rain fell on it. The soil already was wet, so getting it to a stand might be tricky.

    “That said, I don’t see anything yet that we’ll have to replant. It’s 82 degrees today (5/18), which is good cotton weather, and I think we should see some progress soon.

    “I’m finding a few adult thrips. I’m not seeing any immatures yet, but I know that during the week we’ll probably be calling for thrips treatments in places. Most of the pretreatments are probably gone by now due to the rain and the length of time that they’re supposed to last.

    “We probably have 25% of the cotton acres left to plant, which equals about 3,000 acres for me this year. Growers can knock that out in probably three days, so it’s not a long, drawn out process like in the past. One client runs two 12-row high-speed planters that can plant cotton at nine miles per hour.

    “With soybeans, we’re 80% planted, maybe a little more. This last rain put planting on hold in places. Beans look good overall, and we really don’t have too many issues. I don’t have any replants on soybeans so far this year, which is a rare treat for me. Everything seemed to come up, and I was proud about that.

    “Some are in R1 right now, but certainly by the end of the week a fair number of my early April beans will start to pod.

    “We’re planning our second round of herbicide applications after planting. Palmer pigweed populations really haven’t exploded on us except in a few places, but we’re seeing more breakthrough on grass. We’re going to start applying our dicamba.

    “I have corn that started tasseling last week, and on a lot of acres our corn is in that stage where you can hear it grow.

    “I had to spray 200 to 300 acres of corn for northern corn leaf blight this past week. It was one of those situations where we saw a little bit of it a week ago, then we went back five or six days later – and poof – it was at a level where we didn’t feel comfortable with it.

    “I’m still finding a few fall armyworms on the non-Bt corn. It’s nothing I’m going to be spraying but they certainly are noteworthy. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this many fall armyworms this early in the corn.

    “I think we have a better corn crop this year than last year. In the heavy clay, we have some corn that is actually green this year, which was not the case for 2019. I’m not going to say it’s the best corn crop I’ve ever seen in northeastern Louisiana, but it’s better than what we had last year.

    “To my knowledge, we haven’t had any 90-degree days yet. And that may be typical, but April and most of May have been mild. I dare say that we’re ready for summer. If it was to turn 90 degrees right now, we wouldn’t gripe.”

    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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