Cotton – Southeast – Planting Moves Towards A Conclusion, One Way Or The Other

    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.


    Cotton planting is about to wrap up through the region, one way or another. Some growers in the upper Southeast will likely go with the prevented planting option.

    Reports continue about instances of low peanut seed quality.

    The pest lineup this week includes cutworms, thrips and grasshoppers, but no widespread or overwhelming situations turned up in our calls. In places, plant bugs are present earlier than usual.



    Brandon Dillard, Seed Certification Associate, Alabama Crop Improvement

    “It’s a struggle wrapping up planting. It turned dry, so people were backing off a bit or dusting in seed, but a few shut down altogether. Since the rain last week, planting conditions improved, but folks are now having trouble getting back into some fields. We’re not complaining. My granddaddy used to say, ‘It’s a lot easier to plant around a rain than it is to plant in a drought.’

    “Overall, we’re about 70% planted in cotton, and 80% to 85% planted in peanuts. A small percentage of cotton and peanut acres are double-cropped behind oats or wheat. For a few guys, that’s all they lack, and that small grain harvest is running wide open.

    “Many of our growers will reevaluate stands after they finish planting. We will spot seed to fill skips in some fields, maybe replant some acres – especially in an area where it rained 7 inches right behind the planter.

    “We are battling grasshoppers and applying herbicides to clean up the fields. With thrips, we see quite a bit of damage where the crop wasn’t protected with either a seed treatment or an in-furrow material, but with this warm weather now, we hope cotton will quickly grow out of the thrips window.

    “Overall, we’re about where we expect to be at the end of May.”

    Guy Collins, Extension Cotton Specialist, North Carolina State University

    “Rain nearly stopped planting last week, but we were back in the fields again over the Memorial Day weekend. The first cutoff for crop insurance was Monday. A few folks are talking about prevented planting. They have too much to do and not enough time to do it.

    “We have a couple of days to get some planting done, then the forecast calls for rain through our next planting date cutoff, which is the end of the month. Every situation differs. Each grower is considering what he has left to do and what his chances are of finishing it – and he’s reviewing his options with his insurance carrier.

    “Last year was one of the best planting seasons I’ve ever seen, but this has been one of the most aggravating. We need to be in the field.”

    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

    “We have had scattered thunderstorms across south Alabama, which has helped out. With the warmer nights, the April-planted cotton shot up. We are still finding thrips injury on the upper leaves.

    “Additional fields in central Alabama have been replanted due to grasshopper damage.


    “The Tennessee Valley is reporting cutworms. Most of the time, we get by with spraying behind the planter’s press wheel. If the cutworms are above threshold, a grower can spray the entire field. Since they only come out at night, my suggestion is to spray late in the afternoon or evening.

    “Farmers planted plenty of cotton last week, so we are in a good position to finish after this round of thunderstorms. It is not too late to plant cotton anywhere in Alabama, and the new varieties grow so much faster than the old ones.”

    Steve Brown, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Auburn University, Alabama

    “We’re nearly planted and are getting thrips under control. No significant insect issues are turning up. On Monday, we did see grasshoppers feeding on some young cotton plants that weren’t even at first true leaf yet.

    “We saw wide differences in how quickly cotton emerged. Depending on the situation, it ranged from as long as 3 weeks to as fast as 5 or 6 days. We still aren’t where we were last year in terms of high temperatures. That said, the temperature is much more favorable for planting this week than it was three weeks ago. It’s been a rough start.

    “We’re in a better pattern now with scattered showers. It’s raining in the Tennessee Valley about every third day. Some places are too wet, but we won’t turn away any rain at this point.

    “I am comfortable planting at least another 7 to 10 days in central Alabama, and late plantings in south Alabama can be your best cotton. We can make a crop rather quickly. Studies with Cotton Inc. last year in Brewton, Belle Mina and Tallassee showed we could set a maximum-yield crop in about four weeks. You just need good weather.”

    John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia

    “Rain last week brought up a lot of cotton and helped get the planters going. We’re still running, but rain is in the forecast this week, which makes us a little nervous. Cotton and peanuts are about 80% planted, and several people have finished planting peanuts. We’ll plant everything by June 1, which is the first insurance coverage planting date. We always do.

    “Peanut germination is below average. You can’t turn poor seed into a good yield with a fungicide, but we’re not replanting. Some of our stand counts are lower than we’d like, but plants are consistent across the field, with no big skips. Research shows that as 3 plants to a foot will make an adequate stand.

    “We sprayed some grasshoppers and a lot of thrips, even though most of my acres have an in-furrow treatment.

    “Low rainfall amounts since April 27 prevented preemerge herbicides from activating, so we’ll have to address weeds, and many growers will be putting this new chemistry to the test.

    “We usually don’t have to spray plant bugs, but I am seeing more plant bugs than normal. So far, stink bug numbers are low in corn.”

    Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida, Western Panhandle

    “We were very dry until May 17, and since then, we’ve had good soil moisture but could still get in the field to plant and spray. This afternoon (5/26), the sky opened up, so we’ll need to dry out now.

    “Plenty of land prep and planting have been underway. We are about 95% finished planting peanuts, and about 50% of our cotton is in the ground. Drought conditions delayed things during late April and into mid-May. We started planting peanuts when it was dry because we could go deeper into moisture, which can sometimes cause stand issues.

    “Peanut seed quality has been hit and miss. I hear about it, but I haven’t seen poor stands in my area related to quality. For those guys who have poor stands and are considering replanting, I wrote an article showcasing University of Georgia research that’s helpful for deciding whether to replant

    “Overall, things look pretty good here right now, although we’d like it to stop raining for a few days.”

    Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia

    “We’ve probably planted 80% of our peanuts. We have some bad stands in certain cases. Most of my growers save peanut seed, so they’re okay. With purchased seed, we are finding some germination problems.

    “About 40% of our cotton has been planted. We are spraying thrips. We actually started spraying them in corn, then moved to cotton. Thrips pressure has been heavy regardless of whether you went with a seed treatment or an in-furrow treatment. Cool temperatures slowed down everything and gave thrips time to work on those small plants. I hoped we would be planted by June 1, but with rainy weather now, we won’t make it. I’m worrying about whiteflies on late-planted cotton.

    “In corn, we are seeing stinkbugs, mostly greens and some browns, but nothing is close to threshold at this point. In most of our corn behind corn, we’re applying a fungicide at tassel, primarily for northern corn gleaf blight and getting ahead of southern rust. Given the current weather conditions, a preventive fungicide spray might be called for to protect corn, regardless of rotation.”

    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC

    “Cotton growers in Virginia are focused on wrapping up planting by early June because of the insurance deadlines but also because our pest management challenges increase. The later you plant, the higher the chances that cotton will come under heavy pest pressure. Don’t use insecticides unless you have to.

    “The main concern is that plant bug populations build all season, with August being the month with our heaviest pressure. We want the sprayers put away by then. But if we plant late, we probably can’t do that. You certainly can still profitably bring a cotton crop to harvest with a later planting, but carefully manage those populations and keep scouting well into the season.


    “The thrips risk also is increasing in cotton. As we progress toward June, the thrips risk steadily rises. It’s still cool and wet, so that also increases the risk of thrips damage.”

    Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina

    “For the most part, everybody finished planting cotton last week. We caught some sporadic showers over Memorial Day weekend, then some more rain early this week, so we have good moisture.

    “The cotton crop right now is kind of a tale of people planting before, during and after the cold spell we had. For the most part, stands are adequate. That was kind of a surprise to me, given the cold nights we had. We haven’t had a lot of great growing weather. Our oldest cotton only has about 2 true leaves at this point due to the cool conditions at planting. Cotton planted around May 15 looks as good or better than cotton planted the first week of May.

    “Given the weather we’ve had and talking with growers, we’re thankful for the vigor of these newer varieties. If we had these planting conditions at today’s seeding rates 10 or 20 years ago, stands would likely be much poorer.

    “I also anticipated more thrips sprays on the fields that we planted into the cold weather. We are spraying some, but it’s not as bad as I expected with those wet, cool conditions. The model (Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton) shows we could expect lower thrips pressure on any acres that we planted between May 10 and May 15. That’s how it’s working out.”

    Jennifer Bearden, Extension Agricultural Agent, Okaloosa County, Florida

    “Everybody is getting seeds in the ground. Planting had slowed down, but we’re getting much-needed rain and will start moving again.

    “We’re a little behind on planting peanuts, which is normal. We generally plant our cotton first, although some growers switched to peanuts when it turned dry because they could plant deeper and take advantage of that moisture.

    “After the peanuts, the few soybean acres we plant will go in. Based on crop prices, we may see a few more soybean acres than we historically plant. We still don’t recommend planting soybeans behind peanuts or vice versa. Those who are putting in soybeans are going behind cotton or corn.

    “We’re close to planting 100% of our cotton. We’ll have to look at any potential replanting situations. Grasshoppers might prompt some replanting, but we also have a heavy deer population in northwest Florida.

    “This rain may help with the grasshoppers. The immatures are sensitive to rain, and heavy amounts can knock back the numbers. It’s not fun having to fight an animal that eats that much. While working on a grasshopper article in the Panhandle Ag Newsletter, I learned they eat up to 50% of their body weight. It’s amazing how much they can go through in a day.”

    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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