Crop Scan Ag Report: The heat is on

For the past week, temperatures in most of the Cotton Belt have climbed by triple digits. In combination with some timely rainfall and/or irrigation, cotton has responded and caught up after a mostly cool and wet or dry start. Our contributing cotton consultants say weeds are largely under control and the focus is shifting to insect management, particularly plant bugs and fleas.

Here is their report for early July.

Chad Harrell owns and operates Harrell Agronomic Services in Northeastern North Carolina.

Texas Cotton Crop Outlook Uncertain

A lot has changed since the last update. Last week we were able to get some widespread, much-needed rain, which finally allowed the cotton to take off. Most cotton is now 8-11 knots and looks much better. We should see some flowers in a few weeks.

Plant insects have picked up lately and a few fields are reaching the threshold. I expect to see higher pressure with more fields covered this week along with some PGR applications.

Most growers are now fertilizing and end up with weed control. The cotton is still about 2-3 weeks behind the normal schedule.

West Briggs advises on cotton, corn, peanuts, soybeans and small grains for growers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

We replanted cotton that was damaged by hail, but most of it went to soybeans because it was just too late to go back to cotton. I’ve probably lost 25% of the acres of cotton we scout.

We have had some rain during the hail we had but it dries out quickly during these hot days. With a heat index of 110, it doesn’t take many of those days for things to dry out, even after a 5- to 6-inch rain.

We have some cotton that just came into bloom this week. We see a little bit of aphid. But in South Georgia cotton, plant bugs are still at the top of the list. Wherever we have pinheads, we treat plant bugs. We’ve had to spray for a few spider mites, and they seem to be building up again in a few isolated areas. But we mainly see affected plant bugs that turn into cotton.

We are finishing the weed sprays. Our soybean dicamba limit was today (June 30), but we still have some time left for cotton. We just clear the weeds and get ready to fertilize with potash or liquid nitrogen or both.

Cotton seems to be taking shape. It’s starting to look like cotton is supposed to look.

It’s been a pretty rough start. We were cool during planting season and I don’t think our stands were up to scratch. We endured a lot of wind and rain, which helped things out pretty well. We also saw a little more herbicide burn, which is what you normally get when you spray wet soil.

Cotton recovers from all that. We seem to be pointing in the right direction if Mother Nature cooperates with us a bit. We will need another rain shower on our dry acres soon.

Tucker Miller is a Mississippi-based independent private advisor for cotton, soybeans, corn, peanuts, rice and vegetables.

Cotton in our area ranges from nine nodes to 14 nodes, with the oldest just beginning to flower. Most of our cotton blooms for about a week.

Our biggest pest, the infested plant bug, is starting to migrate in at this time. We pick up threshold numbers, especially next to corn. Most of our cotton gets the second injection for plant bugs. We use Acephate plus Diamond and Transform plus Diamond. Where necessary, we also apply PGRs. Race differences require different amounts of Pix. We try to keep our length to knot ratio at two or less.

We had a nice downpour last week, but we are now ready for another downpour. Much of our cotton has been put away and we are removing the last shot of fertilizer. We will cut pivot points to activate and lay pipes to water the first week of July if it doesn’t rain.

Photo: Tucker Miller

The high winds with the last rain laid down some corn, but our cotton was not affected. Most of our corn is currently getting its third watering.

Our soybeans are rated R-4 and have received a fungicide application. Insects have been low in our beans so far.

Mark Nemec is an independent agricultural consultant for cotton, wheat, sorghum and corn in the Blacklands and Brazos River Bottom areas of Central Texas.

It’s hot here in Central Texas. There is a strong heat dome centered above us that has created oppressive heat. Temperatures have been hovering around 100 degrees for the past few weeks with heat indexes between 110 and 120 or so. This has brought a lot of heat units to our cotton, and it shows. The crop is growing fast now and most of the fields are blooming right now.

Since it has not rained recently, irrigation has started in the bottom of the Brazos River. Last year’s drought is still giving us problems as our rivers are still low and our irrigation aquifer cannot be replenished. There are some areas that cannot perform all of their pivots as normal.

The number of flea flies has finally calmed down in most fields, just in time for bollworms. Corn acreage here is up significantly, so we should see a high pressure move into cotton fields. Some two-gene cotton is still grown here and farmers have to pay extra attention to this. Stink bugs are also starting to emerge from cornfields in search of their next green meal.

PGRs are applied before watering to irrigated areas and dry fields that are still well moist. It took a while, but most of the weeds have been cleared after a long struggle.

Kerry Silkers is Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent-IPM for Hockley, Cochran and Lamb Counties.

Well, the Good Lord has answered prayers. First we needed rain. Finished. Then we needed it to clean up and warm up. Finished. However, it’s been too much of a good thing here lately. We have been over 100 degrees for the past few days and averaging 25+ units of heat (DD 60’s) per day.

Fortunately, the cotton takes root very well in the moisture of May and early June and withstands this heat well. In general, producers have started up irrigation systems. The forecast calls for more moderate temperatures as we approach July and a chance for some rain we haven’t seen in several weeks on the western plains of the Texas High Plains.

A large majority of our acres of cotton went in the last week of May through the first 10 days of June. So there is very little cotton left to distribute. Previously planted cotton that has survived all kinds of challenges has 1-4 squares for the first position, with very good retention.

No fleahoppers have been found on cotton to cause problems based on my reconnaissance efforts. I can find fleahoppers in field margins hanging out on silver leaf nightshade. So be vigilant and explore regularly. We want to achieve a retention of more than 70% after the first 3 weeks of squaring.

Based on plant mapping information, the length of our internodes is very tight (less than 0.5 inch on average). If we moderate temperatures back into the mid 90’s, get some rain and your fertility is in place, I might expect faster growth in the coming weeks.

Since we are a few weeks behind ideal growth development, I would highly recommend a light dose (4-8 oz) of a plant growth regulator (mepiquat chloride) in the next few weeks (before July 15th). This can aid in fruit retention, balance vegetative growth with reproductive growth, and can improve maturity at the end of the season. And if we have a late growth spurt, it will be easier to manage if we already have some PGR ppm built into the plant.


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