Cotton – Southeast – Planting Progresses Where The Weather Allows – AgFax

    Photo: Nick McMichen

    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.


    Farmers in parts of the Southeast have run out of moisture while growers in other areas can’t plant because it’s too wet. Tropical storm Arthur has already dumped a half-foot of rain through parts of the Carolinas, and more is expected.

    Warmer weather is spurring plant growth after a round of frigid conditions in the first half of May.

    Insect pressure remains somewhat localized but heavy in places. Our contacts report varying levels of grasshoppers, cutworms, aphids or stink bugs, depending on the area and cultural practices.



    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn, Alabama

    “Thrips and grasshoppers continue to cause problems. We’re still sustaining relatively heavy thrips damage. A majority of our planted acres are going into the 1- to 2-true leaf stage, so a big portion of our cotton will need an insecticide application.

    “More and more adult grasshoppers are turning up – as you’d expect – but we also are finding a significant number of fields with cutworm damage. The cutworms you might not expect. Cutworms aren’t widespread, but their damage can be confused with grasshopper injury.

    “To find cutworms during the day, scratch in the soil around the plants and check for dirty looking worms that are just under the surface. Several fields have suffered as much as 10% stand loss. We can’t afford to lose anything. We plant about 2.5 to 3 seeds per foot, so cutworm damage can leave a gap in the stand.”


    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia

    “Things are dry in a lot of spots in Georgia. We are making progress on planting, approaching about 50%. But we sure need moisture on our dryland acres to finish planting and bring up this cotton. We are making tremendous progress, but some folks are still running behind.

    “The warmer temperatures will help us move past these thrips. The numbers seem to have dropped off and the cotton is growing faster. We still need to use an insecticide at planting. But for everything we’re planting now, we shouldn’t have to spray again for thrips.

    “We are seeing aphids but not in unusual numbers. With the cotton leafroll dwarf virus, which aphids spread, we’re more aware of that insect than we used to be.”


    Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM, Marianna, Florida

    “We’ve been extremely dry, but a much-needed rain fell on Sunday and Monday (5/17-18). With cotton, we’re probably 45% planted. Most of the farmers who I know are actively trying to plant or they’re finishing their field prep. Most are alternating between peanuts and cotton so they can stagger planting.

    “Our cotton seems to be off to a good start. I’m having no trouble finding thrips injury, but I am having trouble finding the actual thrips. I’ll see one or two of them here and there, but I’m not coming across multiple immatures on a single plant.


    “Most of the acreage is at cotyledon to one true leaf, with some fields up to three true leaves. Those older-planted fields seem to be doing okay. With cotton in the 50-cent range, I hope they stay that way. We can’t afford to intensively manage this cotton crop. 

    “As long as it continues to warm up and we catch timely showers, we should be in good shape.”


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

    “Our corn looks super, and we’ve finished the second sidedressing on part of it. Showers came through on Sunday night and Monday, so that helps out a good deal. Corn will probably start tasseling in another 7 to 10 days, which is when we’ll begin closely scouting for stink bugs. With an in-furrow insecticide under most of our corn, a stink bug application will probably be our first treatment.

    “My growers also made an in-furrow insecticide application on most of their cotton. So far, none of them have had to replant any cotton. With that in-furrow application, we also haven’t needed a thrips spray yet. The oldest cotton is at the second true leaf stage, but most of our crop is just emerging.

    “My growers are about 70% planted, and we likely will be finished with cotton late this week – depending on whether it rains. It won’t hurt my feelings if we have to slow down because a little more rain will fall.

    “My growers haven’t had any problems with gaining a peanut stand. Although we do have some poor peanut seed out there, my growers took the time to check the germination. Also, a number of them started saving peanut seed three to five years ago when we began noticing a drop in seed quality. As a result, we don’t have any issues right now. We may run into something later, but it hasn’t popped up so far.”


    Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama

    “We’re close to finishing cotton planting, but things are dry right now. Rain fell on Monday, but it was scattered. We have one other chance for rain this week. We’re mostly dryland, so we need it.

    “We sprayed about 1,000 acres for thrips. We are spraying not so much because of the numbers but because the cotton is growing slowly and it’s dry. So, we treated to take the pressure off these young plants.

    “On one farm, we are having trouble with grasshoppers. The numbers are light, but they are cutting off the cotton. The populations aren’t as high as in some other areas, but the damage is heavy.”


    Kevin Cotton, High Cotton Consultants, Leesburg, Georgia

    “Our irrigated cotton stands are good where we planted in the last 10 to 14 days. We finally received rainfall early this week, which was much needed on dryland acres. With more rain in the forecast, we should have adequate stands.

    “Thrips have been extremely heavy on young cotton with no in-furrow insecticide, and we applied acephate on those fields right after emergence.

    “We are encountering some quality issues with peanut seed. We calculated as much as a 70% seed loss in fields planted at the end of April and the first of May when we had cold conditions and where we irrigated. The dry corners in those fields fared much better. At the most, they lost 10% to 20% of the stand. Peanuts planted in the last 7 to 10 days appear to be doing a good deal better.

    “The majority of our peanut acres are at cracking to early growth stage, with 3% to 4% blooming. Less than 20% of our peanut acreage remains to be planted.

    “Our Group IV and early Group V soybeans are growing off good, with the majority around the 30-day mark.

    “We’ve picked up a little northern corn leaf blight, but nothing alarming. In corn fields with a tight rotation or in continuous corn, like with dairies, we applied fungicides at V-8.

    “We are picking up scattered stink bugs on ear shoots in corn, mainly browns, and mostly in the borders. When we come into a field with a post-tassel fungicide application, we will add a stink bug material. In fields where growers opt out of a fungicide application due to little or no disease pressure, we will run border sprays for stinkbugs, unless we pick up migration farther into the field.”


    John Burleson, Consultant, Swan Quarter, North Carolina

    “Corn is 95% planted, soybean acres are about a third planted and cotton is maybe 20% planted.

    “In corn, we have a range of growth stages as a result of our unusually cool spring. Our biggest corn is probably at V5. We received some frost injury on corn last week. At least two growers in our county are having issues with slugs, and I have heard about some replants because of slug damage.


    “In terms of crop development, we’ll lose all of this week because it’s been raining and we won’t be able to return to the field right away to continue planting. So far, we’re at 5 to 6 inches of rain this week, which is more than you want. But the truth is, we needed moisture, and this has been a nice, steady rain. Overall, we are off to a good start.”


    Steve Brown, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Auburn University, Alabama

    “Prior to Monday, things were bone dry, which was hindering planting in the southern two-thirds of Alabama. It was so dry that we began to worry that we couldn’t recover. But with the rain this week, everything greened up and it’s just wonderful.

    “Next, we’ll start worrying about too much rain crimping our planting schedule. However, we are thankful for the rain in south Alabama. In north Alabama, it’s been about a year since it’s been dry. I’m no weather expert, but maybe we are shifting into a pattern where it rains a little every few days.

    “Our cotton acres are about 60% planted. Since this rain improved planting conditions in the south, we’ll push hard. Hopefully, we can wrap up planting over the next week or so while we have moisture – provided the weather breaks and we can get in the field again.

    “The cotton that’s emerging generally looks good. It’s been a very unusual start, with significantly milder temperatures then we had this time last year. That probably bodes well for the crop overall. Plants were so stressed during the vegetative cycle last year that we ran out of potassium pretty quickly when we moved into the production stage.”


    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 was also 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 is up does look 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.”

    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.
    ©2020 AgFax Media LLC

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