Southeast Cotton: Waiting on Rain to Finish Planting

    Cotton planting. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Karli Stringer, Contributing Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southeast Cotton, sponsored by the Southern Cotton Team of AMVAC.


    The Southeast is still experiencing extremely dry and hot conditions. Planting efforts have slowed and, for the most part, growers have now swapped cotton for soybeans.

    Thrips seem to be the biggest pest threat but keep an eye out for grasshoppers, beet armyworms and stinkbugs.



    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

    “We are still planting, and we are really late this year. Most of the cotton is planted and it’s at about the 2- to 4-true-leaf stage. I think the main thing is we just need water. We’ve had some scattered thunderstorms, but a lot of fields are just too dry.

    “We’ve seen some pretty heavy damage from thrips, so we’re spraying for those. We’ve got a lot of fields seeing grasshoppers, but not much damage from them right now. Those grasshoppers emerged in the spring and they’re adults now, though, so we’re having to use higher rates of chemicals to control them. Some growers are incorporating control methods aimed at both thrips and grasshoppers. I’m not sure what to expect from plant bugs this year, but it’s looking like our crops won’t align with them very well and we won’t have to fight them. You just never know, so we’re keeping an eye out for anything.

    “I’ve heard of beet armyworms in some corn fields, as well as some high numbers of stinkbugs.”

    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina

    “We haven’t gotten any rain yet unless you were one of the lucky few who caught a little shower. We’re expecting some rain at the end of this week, so here’s hoping we can all get what we need. It’s so dry and hot those without irrigation have had to stop planting for now. Some folks are dusting in the seeds, but that’s a risky choice to make when it’s so hot and they could just bake in the ground.

    “We’re close to being done planting cotton, but we are slowing down to wait for some rain. Our soybean planting has been delayed, but that’s fine because our area can keep planting through June and be OK. I’m sure if we get a good rain planting will pick up pretty quickly.

    “I looked at some of our trial fields today, and, in a moderate thrips season, we’re seeing some pretty good separation based on what treatment was used in planting. The levels of protection are pretty dramatic, so I’m excited to look at the data and have that report.

    “I haven’t seen or heard about anything other than thrips. We had reports of the white margined burrower bugs, but the treatments took care of those pretty easily. The grasshoppers are thriving in this hot weather, so we’re definitely keeping an eye on them.”


    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:

    “We finally got some rain, and we are expecting more soon. We needed that rain because a lot of people were waiting for it so they could spray for weeds and thrips. I told them to check for injury from thrips and add acephate to the tank if needed, but that can cause a flare-up in spidermites with such dry conditions. Now we’re finally spraying, and some are spraying even if they don’t need it.

    “I’d say all the cotton is in the ground, and anybody who didn’t get it planted has traded it out for soybeans. It’s just too late to keep planting cotton. I will say, though, I think this year’s cotton will end up being the same size no matter when it was planted. I have fields that look exactly the same that were planted a month apart. It’s just been such a dry and hot growing season. We are also going to have to be careful with the later planted fields because I know they will be at more of a risk for plant bugs later on.”

    Jennifer Bearden, Extension Agricultural Agent, Okaloosa County, Florida

    “We are at a standstill because we haven’t gotten any rain. It looks like we’ve got some rain coming in this week, so here’s hoping.

    “I have gotten some reports of deer causing damage and pulling up seedlings. I’m sure it’s because everything else is dried up and that’s all they can find. We might see some replanting in those areas when we get some moisture.

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

    “I think we are way past the window for getting cotton planted, so a lot of people are swapping over to some other crops, mostly soybeans. We got some rain this past week, so pretty much everywhere has some adequate moisture. In fact, I went out to a couple of our fields and it was actually too wet to do some work out there. Most of our land out here is pretty sandy, though, so it should dry out pretty quickly.

    “We’ve seen what I think is a rarity in other places, but we’ve seen the tarnished plant bug in our cotton. These bugs go in and feed on the terminal of the plant, and it creates something we call the black flag. In other words, the terminal leaves turn black.

    “I’d say we’ve had a pretty good year for cotton in terms of treatments. We’ve seen a few spots heavy with the white margined burrower beetle, but it takes so many of those to cause damage it’s more just curiosity that we talk about it.

    “I’ve heard of some stinkbugs in corn, but most of that crop is already at a stage where bugs can’t really hurt it. There is a period right before tasseling that stinkbugs can cause damage, but right now we’re just watching it.

    AgFax Southeast Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Ernst Undesser, 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: Farm Journal, 8725 Rosehill Rd., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215
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