Cotton – Southwest – Rain Would Help | Dicamba Alternative?

    Photo: Seth Byrd, OSU Cotton Specialist

    Larry Stalcup, Contributing Editor

    Debra Ferguson, Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southwest Cotton, sponsored by the Southwest team of PhytoGen cottonseed.


    Hot, dry winds and lack of moisture made for common ground across the region this week. But that’s not to minimize insect pressure. Brad Easterling says thrips and blowing wind damage is so severe that it’s hard to tell the difference.

    In addition to thrips – fleahoppers, grasshoppers, stink bugs and other pest populations are intensifying. But don’t be too quick to treat, cautions Suhas Vyavhare. He points to 3 variables to keep in mind.

    Irrigation water is limited. Chris Locke says growers who planted Pima acres hope to have enough water to make a crop.

    The dicamba ruling is not quite the hot topic it was in the past 2 weeks as growers use the product they have on hand and wonder what’s next. Alan Sietz says some growers are “loading up” on Tavium.



    Alan Sietz, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wilcox, Arizona:

    “Most cotton is at pinhead-square, and Lygus applications are going out, particularly where they’re cutting hay. Those treatments will likely knock down fleahoppers as well. These sprays come after the chinch bug treatments that were applied in the spring.

    “We’re also making mepiquat PGR applications, as well as our second herbicide applications for bindweed, morning glory and spurred anoda. That’s a mix of either Roundup and Xtendimax, or Roundup and Liberty. There are also a few acres with Enlist technology.

    “Since the dicamba decision, we’re loading up on Tavium from Syngenta, which was not ruled illegal by the California court. It’s an alternative herbicide for crops with the dicamba technology system. I’m still learning more about its use. Tavium just received a label within the past few months, whereas Xtendimax, Engenia and FeXapan were labeled about 2 years ago.

    “The region had a few showers over the weekend. We’ll start thinking about rust control applications if the rain continues. Corn looks good, but hot weather is putting a little pressure on it and alfalfa. A shortage of water is catching up with growers on the third alfalfa cutting.”


    Brad Easterling, Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Agent, Glasscock, Reagan & Upton Counties:

    “The little cotton we have ranges from cotyledon to 9-leaf that’s just beginning to square. The younger irrigated cotton is seeing thrips pressure. We haven’t sprayed yet. It’s hard to tell thrips damage from blowing sand damage. It’s about 2 weeks away from when fleahoppers could start invading squares. We have our eyes peeled for them as weeds die down on the edges of fields.

    “Due to the dry conditions that don’t seem to end, weeds aren’t bad so far. But we have concerns since the Xtend situation is up in the air. We don’t have the resistance issues growers face further north. However, we still have resistant carelessweed and pigweed. We have used dicamba on morning glory and bindweed in the past.

    “Our hot and dry weather has taken a toll on dryland production. Only a small portion of dryland cotton will come up. The earlier stuff will make it, but not without more rain. Cotton that was dusted-in a half-inch deep may work if the rain comes. Unfortunately, there’s none in the forecast.

    “Corn also has a lot of thrips. It’s starting to suffer due to dry conditions. It’s pollinating, but growers are having a hard time keeping enough irrigation applied.”


    Chris Locke, CSL Consulting Inc., Sudan, Texas/Eastern New Mexico:

    “We had thrips pressure early in irrigated fields. Insecticide was sprayed on nearly all cotton, and one application handled them. Plants aren’t advanced enough to experience pressure from fleahoppers, but they will be in a couple of weeks.

    “Growers are also watching for mites, which are prevalent in corn. Mites are starting to flare with the hot, dry weather. Corn that’s 8- to 10-leaf is receiving a Comite treatment and we’re planning on using it on every acre. Most corn is stacked-up in Bt technology, so there are no rootworm issues.

    “There aren’t many weeds in cotton because of dry conditions, but there are a few escapes of Kochia and tumbleweed in no-till fields. Growers are having trouble killing them with dicamba and Roundup. Thankfully there are no large outbreaks of new weeds.

    “As for the dry weather, it has produced an ugly situation. Dryland is nothing at all. Many growers just dusted-in dryland fields to meet the June 10 cutoff for insurance. The irrigated crop is so-so. About 25 to 30% that emerged couldn’t withstand the wind. I have 2,000 to 3,000 irrigated acres with nothing on them. A few growers planted what is likely 4,000 to 5,000 acres of Pima. They’re hoping that will work with the irrigation water we have. Others will come back with a grain crop.

    “There is, however, one shiny spot. Peanuts are doing well and look good. Most guys who have peanuts are half peanuts and half cotton. They’ll probably stick with peanuts and hope they can keep up with the irrigation.”


    John Thobe, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension IPM Agent, Bailey, Castro & Parmer Counties:

    “This area of the southwestern Panhandle needs moisture to help us get more out of our irrigation. High winds and dry weather have hurt early-planted cotton and other crops. There is no dryland production, and irrigated fields are seeing pressure on young terminal growth.

    “Thrips in cotton are few, but they are heavy in much of the corn. Corn is at the V-7 to V-8 stage. Once it dries out, thrips will move to cotton, but plant growth should be past the stage for damage. Predators will also be fighting back. The only other insect I’ve seen in cotton is the false chinch bug.”


    Clyde Crumley, Crumley Agricultural Consulting, El Campo, Texas:

    “Stink bug populations are heavy in corn as it continues to dry down. Then they’re moving into cotton. We’re forced to treat many cotton fields where we’re finding adult and nymph stink bugs.

    “We’re also on the leading edge of bollworm activity. A few Bollgard 2 fields needed spraying last week. A large egg lay has gradually increased. It usually peaks around Father’s Day, which is this weekend.


    “Cotton maturity has rapidly progressed, especially since it stopped raining about 2 weeks ago. We applied Pix to hold down growth until the rain spigot shut off. Almost overnight, cotton has gone from bloom to mid-bloom. Fields are averaging 6 to 8 NAWF. That’s a benchmark. If we don’t get rain again soon, much cotton will swiftly go to cutout at 4 NAWF.

    “We’re virtually beyond the need for weed control, other than a few stragglers. The dicamba situation is not a problem for most growers right now.”


    Patrick Kircher, New Mexico State University Extension Agent, Roosevelt County Portales:

    “We are in severe straits, due to hot, dry weather and strong winds. There is no activity unless it’s under pivot. There is no dryland of anything. A few growers worked part of their ground but stopped for fear of blowing. The drought of 2011 scared many people. They don’t want to open up too much land and have it start walking on them.

    “The little irrigated cotton I’ve seen is 8 to 10 inches tall and doesn’t appear super spry. The irrigated corn looks okay. I’m waiting on wheat yields. It’s just another rough year. Our water quality is so poor that crops don’t respond much without help from above.”

    Murilo Maeda, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Cotton Specialist, Lubbock:

    “The region as a whole remains fairly dry. Folks to the north and east of Lubbock caught enough moisture to get a few dryland fields established. But they will need more moisture soon.

    “It has been a challenge to get our plots planted. We’re dry-planting a test today and hope that those rain chances forecast for this week make it here. We hope to wrap up our plot planting this week with the exception of a dryland test south of Lubbock and maybe one off the Caprock in Hall County.

    “Irrigated fields across much of the region look to be in good shape, but some are struggling where irrigation water is limited. Growers are counting on more rain to get a decent crop.”

    Chuck Wilbur, Independent Crop Consultant, Wellington, Texas/Southeastern Panhandle/Southwestern Oklahoma:

    “Thrips have been an issue, and some fields required 2 treatments. Also, the hot, dry weather has spawned a grasshopper infestation like the plague in Egypt. They roamed 10 to 12 rows deep into cotton and required spraying. We expect fleahoppers to start invading fields next week.

    “We’ll also start PGR applications on irrigated cotton next week. Those fields are at pinhead-square, about 5 to 6 nodes. The irrigated looks good, but the dryland is struggling terribly. It all got planted, but it has been too dry to keep a good stand. Weed control has been decent, but a few spots are seeing more resistance to pigweed.

    “The peanuts look good if we can make the irrigation water hold up. As dry as it is, we’ll be putting a lot of pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer in August.”


    Suhas Vyavhare, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Lubbock:

    “The area is still seeing thrips damage on older cotton, but don’t ignore the pressure on younger cotton. The pest’s numbers should begin to thin out at 4 to 5 leaves.

    “There are also reports of wireworms, aphids, chinch bugs and grasshoppers in localized areas. Dry fields are perfect weather for grasshoppers. Host plants are drying, and they move into cotton in big numbers. They can quickly wipe out the stalk on young plants.

    “Older cotton will soon start putting on squares, so the major focus will be on fleahoppers. There’s no activity now, but it’s just a matter of time. With current low market prices, make sure insect numbers are at threshold, and give beneficials time to do their magic before adding input costs.”  


    Mark Nemec, MJN Consulting, Waco, Texas:

    “Thankfully, bugs have been light. Other than a few hot spots, fleahopper numbers are low in most places. There are just a few bollworm eggs in cotton but nothing to worry about. However, headworms are in sorghum on the Brazos River Bottom. Other than that, there are few insects, and we’re not sure why. Other bug checkers are shrugging their shoulders like I am.

    “Most weeds are in check. We’ve had to hit a few spots in recent days, but weeds are mostly under control. We got nearly all dicamba applied before the unexpected cutoff last week.


    “As far as the weather goes, it has been hot and dry for 3 weeks. That’s good cotton growing weather. Plants are fruiting-up well. A few blooms are out there, but most blooming should start in about a week. Cotton has hunkered down and doing its thing. But it would be great to catch an inch or two of rain.”


    Stu Duncan, Kansas State University Crops & Soils Specialist, Manhattan:

    “Our wheat has turned rapidly, so the thrips migration into cotton is on. Growers should expect to see thrips issues if they didn’t use a seed treatment.

    “The bulk of the young crop was rated 80 to 85% fair to good by USDA. We didn’t have delayed planting like we saw last year. The early-planted stuff is just starting to square. Weed control has been adequate so far. Growers are in better shape now than they were when the dicamba court ruling came down. They have settled in and are getting things done with the dicamba supplies they have on hand. Right now (6/16), they’re fighting the wind. They have to be careful and follow the labels on when herbicides can be applied.

    “Meanwhile, the warm weather is providing the heat units cotton needs. Guys are happy where they are, but rain would help and make us not feel as cranky. Irrigators in the southwest corner of Kansas are likely close to turning on the water.

    “Our wheat didn’t get hurt by freeze as bad as USDA thought. But there are areas where disease is moving in. It could be Fusarium head blight, and it’s worse where wheat was double-cropped after corn last year.”


    Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo:

    “We’re still evaluating conditions in cotton trials and fields damaged by high winds last week. There was severe injury to young plants. Farmers are determining what they can or should do – whether to replant, or keep a field and see how it recovers. Many fields were dusted-in south of Amarillo, but they’re still not up. Just waiting on the rain.

    “There are thrips issues, especially for cotton planted in early May. Farmers are actively spraying. For later cotton, seed treatments are wearing off, and insecticide treatments may be needed. Early-planted cotton is also seeing initial fleahopper activity. We need to make sure to retain squares by spraying if fleahoppers reach threshold.

    “Wheat is being combined, but there’s still some drying down. Dryland yields are surprisingly high, from 20 to 60 bushels per acre. The highest yields are where fields had substantial subsoil moisture after good fall precipitation. Yields are still high, considering the current dry weather and April freeze damage. We hope irrigated wheat yields are also strong.

    “In addition, the hot, dry conditions across the High Plains are also stressing irrigated corn fields. It’s at the V-3 to V-10 stage, where the impact of water stress is critical to determining ear size.”


    Shurley On Cotton: Markets Finds New Upward Resistance Point, New Bottom   6-12

    Texas LRGV: Verde Plant Bugs Migrating from Sorghum to Cotton 6-12

    Texas High Plains Cotton: Hail Knocks Back Some Fields – Podcast 6-12

    Texas Wheat: Field Tours Available Online 6-12

    Texas Cotton: Weed Management Options Without Dicamba 6-11

    Kansas Wheat: New HRS Variety Offer Improved Disease Resistance 6-11

    AgFax Southwest Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, Editorial Director. It covers cotton production in Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
    Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the main cotton growing 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

    AgFax Media, LLC
    142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047

    The Latest

    Send press releases to

    View All Events

    [ecs-list-events limit="5" key="start date" order="asc"]
    Send press releases to

    View All Events