Cotton – Southeast – More Bolls Opening, But Still A Long Way To Go – AgFax

    Photo: Texas AgriLife

    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.


    Silverleaf whiteflies continue to plague growers in parts of Georgia, and they also are turning up in areas in southeast Alabama where pressure built in 2017 – generally regarded as the worst-ever whitefly year in southeastern cotton. Growers and crop advisors learned plenty in 2017 about dealing with whiteflies, so managing the insect isn’t as big an unknown now.

    A bit more cotton is starting to open in the lower Southeast, but this crop still has a long way to go. As a number of our contacts continue to note, much of the region’s cotton crop went in late.

    More cleanup sprays have gone out or are planned to protect that last viable fruit from plant bugs and stinkbugs.

    Bollworm moth counts have picked up in places, and worms might still pose a threat, depending on the seed technology in a given field and how far along plants are at this point.

    In soybeans, redbanded stinkbugs are more apparent and are prompting treatments in places.

    In peanuts, worm applications have been necessary here and there.



    Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia

    “This cotton crop has gotten costly during a time when it doesn’t need to be expensive, but we can’t let it go now. We are treating a small percentage of fields for silverleaf whiteflies (SLWF) and expect to spray more later this week.

    “Unless it rains, I could see three whitefly treatments in some later-planted fields. The earlier we plant, the less pressure we have from whiteflies, but we couldn’t plant much of our cotton early this year.

    “We also are seeing bollworms, and I’ve found as many worms this year as I did back during years in the late single-gene days.

    “Nearly everything has been treated for stinkbugs one time, which is good for this area. Stinkbug pressure hasn’t been as bad as in recent years.

    “Our oldest irrigated cotton is starting to open. We’ll have 30% to 40% opening in 7 to 10 days and the rest of the crop will start opening about three weeks after that. It always amazes me to have cotton opening in one field and blooming in another all in the same week.

    “We had a heavy moth flight and treated a majority of our peanut acreage for foliage feeders., and we were able to clean them up. A second cycle of lesser cornstalk borers came through peanuts. We had high numbers in some of my irrigated fields, and that isn’t generally the case.

    “We also are seeing an increase in white mold in peanuts. Where we have been on time with fungicides, we look good. Where rain has stretched out the intervals, we have some white mold and a little leaf spot. However, nothing looks bad.

    “We are at the tail end of corn harvest. Yields so far have been above average. In a year with normal prices, we’d be jumping up and down. But since the ethanol plant shut down in Mitchell County, we’re wondering where to put all of it.”


    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University, Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina

    “Bollworms don’t want to let go. We scouted trials Monday and Tuesday (8/17 and 8/18) and the egg numbers were fairly high. We are still finding significant caterpillar injury to fruit, mostly in non-Bt check plots.

    “Looking at the pheromone traps, the moth flight is the heaviest it’s been all year. We need to closely watch two-gene Bt cotton to make sure nothing gets through.

    “Stinkbugs are still out there. Using the dynamic boll-injury thresholds, I’m sure most growers are doing a great job controlling stinkbugs.

    “Despite recent rains, we’re still seeing a lot of spider mite activity. Because it’s been raining, I wouldn’t treat for them. The best product we have for spider mites is heavy rain.

    “Soybean looper activity picked up over the last week. In the next week or so we’ll probably contend with more problems from migratory pests like soybean loopers and velvetbean caterpillar.

    “Redbanded stinkbug (RBSB) is picking up and appears to be the predominant species in our early soybeans, which they seem to prefer. Everything should be filling out pods now, so we need to watch closely for stinkbugs.

    “RBSB is a little harder to kill than some of the other stinkbug species. They also can damage soybeans a little later in the crop’s phenology than the other species. Midsouth data shows they can hurt yields late in the season, and beans need to remain under threshold all the way to R7.”


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

    “About 10% of my acreage has heavy whitefly pressure, and we’ve treated every field twice. When you check cotton outside of that core area, pressure quickly falls off. Away from the core area, we’ve only treated a few acres two times.

    “We started getting rain, and I think that prevented more acres from reaching treatment situations, but we will likely need to spray some more acres before harvest. The good news is that the whitefly situation is not nearly as bad as it was in 2017. Thank goodness.

    “Some cotton is starting to open. We treated a few more acres for spider mites but not as many as I once feared. We haven’t treated any spider mites in peanuts.


    “Although the moth flight was heavy, we didn’t have to treat any acres for bollworm. Most of my cotton acres are in three-gene varieties.

    “In peanuts, we need to stay on our fungicide schedule to keep white mold under control. Where we could stay on a 14-day schedule, the fields look good. But with the heat and humidity that we’ve had, we couldn’t stretch our schedule more than that. Leaf spot pressure has been fairly light – and much lighter than last year.

    “We treated a lot of our peanut acres with a long-lasting insecticide and we haven’t had to come back with anything on those fields. We try to time the application so we are on the backside of lesser cornstalk borers and we’re ahead of velvetbean caterpillar.

    “Coverage usually lasts for about 75 days. Even though our biggest pest in peanuts this time of year is velvetbean caterpillar, we usually expect enough activity out of that application to carry us through to harvest. My oldest peanuts are 112 days, so we still have a few weeks to go. We’ll keep scouting.”


    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

    “We still have stinkbugs, mostly browns, and some plant bug adults are in our older cotton. We seem to have more of those in the early-planted fields than in the late-planted cotton. A few leaffooted bugs also are in the mix. Plenty of folks are making one last cleanup spray.

    “We are still concerned about silverleaf whitefly (SLWF), and they are more prominent in fields with a history of SLWF. In 2017, SLWF spilled over into peanuts and soybean. In my opinion, however, they are not as big a problem in those crops because we’re not concerned about the honeydew dripping onto lint.

    “In soybeans and peanuts, we’re concerned about them sucking juice. In all crops, we want to monitor them and determine if they’re building. We are detecting them as far north as Montgomery and as far west as Demopolis.

    “Our cotton is maturing fast. Some fields will produce good yields. But it’s hard to speak of the Alabama crop as a whole or estimate the statewide average this early. We grow our cotton over a large area and have the most widely distributed cotton east of Texas.

    “We still have soybean looper sand velvetbean caterpillars on peanuts and soybeans. The populations don’t seem to be increasing, so we’re hoping we are past the peak of moth activity with those two.

    “Redbanded stinkbugs are popping up in more places in soybeans every week. We are at threshold at Prattville, and we’ve already sprayed in the Black Belt areas west of Selma. We can detect them down in Monroe County, but they’re not at treatable levels there – not yet.

    “More thunderstorms have moved through, but they’re not reaching everywhere. We still need rain, especially in the northern part of the state.”


    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina

    “In cotton, bollworms are mostly done. Generally, we expect a huge generation in late August and into early September, but it doesn’t establish. We usually see a heavy flight, with some eggs and instars.

    “However, we aren’t done with plant bugs. They weren’t prevalent early, but they’ve been hanging on. We’re creeping towards the last effective bloom date, which is around August 25, but plant bugs will hit small bolls. So, pay attention to them.

    “We also found brown marmorated stinkbug in cotton at Rocky Mount, which is a first for that area.

    “We have a little pest activity in soybeans, and we are still spraying corn earworms. Although they remain spotty, the pressure seems extended this season. Normally, we’re kind of wrapping up corn earworms about now.

    “We are also finding tiny soybean loopers, and they’re here a couple of weeks early. I usually call the first week of September ‘soybean looper week,’ so we’ll see what happens from here.

    “Quite a few people are reporting three-cornered alfalfa hopper damage in soybeans, and they seem to have been widespread. Some were likely at treatable levels when the plants were seedlings, since that’s when the damage we are seeing now took place.

    “As we look to what we can do to increase soybean yields, controlling these pests early is an area for improvement. If we expect to grow a high-yielding crop with good economic returns, we’ll have to closely manage pests. It’s not always easy to find these insects, and we’ll need to scout.

    “We expect more issues with stinkbugs as the soybean season progresses. Even though stinkbugs have been light this year, cotton is cutting out and corn is leaving the field, so soybeans are the only crop left for them.

    “We’re finding noticeable numbers of Southern green stinkbugs, which is unusual for us. I suspect populations have built up over a couple of mild winters.”


    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC

    “Around half of Virginia’s cotton is at or near cutout. With our last effective bloom date next week, we need to make smart spray decisions. Let’s keep in mind the cost versus the potential return from a top crop.

    “We are seeing a lot of immature plant bugs. Where we’ve already treated, we’re not detecting much re-infestation. Although plant bugs can and will damage young bolls, I would only spray if you are counting on making yield from susceptible positions.

    “In soybeans, we are seeing more corn earworms, especially in wide-row and drought-stressed fields. We need to be careful about which treatments we choose. We already are seeing widespread looper infestations, and next week marks the start of our soybean looper window – when populations could potentially blow up. We need to make product decisions based on looper control.

    “Overall, stinkbug numbers are low in soybeans.”


    Michael Mulvaney, Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Florida

    “Our cotton looks great. I’m always hesitant to say that because plenty of season is left. We held our UF/IFAS Virtual Cotton Tour this week in Santa Rosa County, and everyone was talking about how clean our cotton and peanut fields look.

    “We sent through a dry period earlier, but it rained at about the time our cotton looked like it was flagging a little.

    “Our peanuts appear to be healthy, too. Some leaf spot and white mold are turning up. We want to keep getting rain, but don’t want a hurricane.

    “In soybeans, we definitely need to be spraying for Asian soybean rust – if it’s not already too late. If you turn your back on soybean rust, it will get all over you. We saw one conventional field that was 60% to 70% defoliated. We are at podfill and need to keep those leaves healthy. If you can put down a protective fungicide, it’s not too late to apply it now.”


    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia

    “Whitefly continues spreading. Controlling silverleaf whitefly (SLWF) is all about timing and choosing the right product in the context of that timing. In my travels, it’s becoming apparent where people have been timely with their SLWF control and where they were late or chose the wrong product.

    “Which product a grower picks depends on whether the application will be made on time. An insect growth regulator (IGR) must go out on time. If an application goes out late, use a contact, systemic product, and it still will be a challenge to catch up.


    “Think about whitefly insecticide applications in the context of weed control. Your IGRs are the preemerge herbicides. Contact, systemic products are more like a post-emergence application.

    “But SLWF reproduces faster than a pigweed and can build a new generation every 14 days.

    “We may have to follow an IGR with a contact, systemic material in situations with large migrations into a field and with high numbers of immatures in the cotton. Scout closely and make sure we are limiting in-field reproduction. Again, it’s all about selecting the correct product for the situation.

    “We are seeing less movement back into those early-planted fields where we’ve done a good job controlling SLWF. That’s a positive point. However, the June-planted cotton that hasn’t lapped is a magnet for SLWF.

    “It’s atypical in Georgia for whitefly to move quickly into June-planted cotton. That said, I’m on my third spray for SLWF on June-planted cotton in my trials. That’s not good. I’m spending too much money, but we are maintaining control.

    “In fringe areas, some cotton is at cutout, and those fields are in a race with whiteflies to the finish line. When you reach that finish line, defoliate and pick as quickly as you can. The only way to truly get rid of SLWF is to drop those leaves, then pick the cotton before you have regrowth.

    “Stinkbug numbers are unusually low. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity to hold onto beneficial insects that can help us control SLWF. Spray based on scouting, not the calendar.

    “With the exception of whiteflies, our cotton crop is in good shape.”


    Brad Smith, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Selma, Alabama

    “The latest-planted cotton is receiving its last shot of plant growth regulator if needed. We’re still keeping an eye on stinkbugs. Overall, nearly all insects have been lighter this year. But we are paying close attention to cotton that’s next to where corn is drying down or near soybeans that have been desiccated.

    “I don’t know that we have any open bolls, but I’ve noticed a few cracked bolls. The crop looks promising. If we could get a good rain between now and the first of next week, it would be worth some money. I don’t know how profitable this cotton will be, but it will certainly be a productive crop.

    “We started harvesting corn, and yields so far are really exciting. We desiccated our earliest soybeans, but I don’t think any have been harvested (as of 8/19).

    “We are still finding a good many stinkbugs on cotton and our later soybeans.

    “Overall, our worm spectrum isn’t extremely heavy, but worm treatments have gone out in places.”


    Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crops Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina

    “The cotton crop has really moved along after a super-late start. We’re still fighting stinkbugs and plant bugs. It’s not likely we’ll have two weeks more of blooms that will make it – but we’re sure hoping for it and we need it. The worst of our cotton doesn’t look as bad as I feared at this point, and we could have a decent crop.

    “All of our crops are running two to three weeks behind normal.

    “Corn harvest is underway, and what growers are harvesting now looks really good. This is the earliest corn I can remember that wasn’t hurt by hot, dry conditions in early July.

    “In peanuts, we are controlling leaf spot and stem rot and are between the third and fourth fungicide sprays.

    “In soybeans, we still have corn earworm in fields between R2 and R3. Fields at R4 and R5 have some stinkbugs and soybean loopers, but we aren’t treating many acres.”


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    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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