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High Maintenance Crop Year In 2012 print email

Richard Costello & Hank Jones
C&J Ag Consulting
Pioneer, La.

It seems that the longer our crop consulting business exists, the shorter the winters get. And in the case of the winter of 2011-2012, well, winter never really materialized. Of course, we as crop consultants dread the mild winters that seem to allow an early onslaught of weeds and insect pests. As of this writing on March 20, we are finding some of our nemeses – tarnished plant bugs and brown stink bugs hanging out in respectable numbers in wheat fields. Winter weeds, if not controlled by applying an early burndown, are as lush as we’ve ever seen for mid- March. It certainly appears as though the stage is set for a high maintenance crop year.

Oftentimes, producers and consultants are in a mad dash this time of year to get in the fields and plant as soon as possible. Hopefully, fertility, burndown and variety decisions have been made by now, and postemergence plans are being considered. We hope producers are taking notice of the remnant rye grass left in fields following burndown. No doubt we will have to step up our burndown programs to include clethodim next fall and spring where rye grass slipped by.

We are quite fortunate in northeast Louisiana not to have an abundance of glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed. However, it is inevitable that resistant populations will occur, and we encourage our clients to work with us to have a game plan in place should we find resistant populations this year. Prevention in the form of overlapping residual herbicides will serve us well only if it is implemented, not talked about. Educating our producers and landowners on the value of a zero tolerance policy for pigweed escapes will be paramount as we sit on the eve of what will be the biggest challenge to cotton production in Louisiana in decades.

It is prudent that we as consultants be diligent in scouting for and identifying early season insect pests. Western flower thrips were quite numerous last year and are not adequately controlled with organophosphate insecticides. Also, be mindful that spider mite infestations seem to migrate into cotton fields almost immediately following an early insecticide application. As is true with cotton aphids, spider mite problems can be selfinflicted if early insecticide applications are made in a non-judicious manner.

In short, it’s important to communicate with producers to let them know that seedling cotton needs to be scouted prior to any early season insecticide application.

In closing, 2012 hopefully will grow upon the successes of 2011. Though challenges are present and many are on the horizon for us in northeast Louisiana, cotton has persevered through floods, hurricanes, boll weevils, resistant worms, low prices, lost infrastructure, etc. We’ll be adding resistant weeds and resistant bollworms very soon.

Good luck to you all.

Click here to ask Richard Costello & Hank Jones a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

Richard Costello

• B.S. in Ag Business, 1993 – Louisiana Tech University
• M.S. in Weed Science, 1995 – University of Arkansas
• PhD in Weed Science, 2000 – Louisiana State University
• LSU AgCenter Ag Leadership Development Program, class 12
• Member and past president of the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association (LACA)
• Married to wife Carla Costello. Two children: Lane Essex, 17, and Daniel Costello, 2
• Enjoys deer hunting and turkey hunting


Hank Jones

• B.S. in Agronomy, 1999 – Louisiana Tech University
• M.S. in Entomology, 2004 – Louisiana State University
• LSU AgCenter Ag Leadership Development Program, class 11
• Member and past president of the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association (LACA)
• Married to wife Melanie Jones. Two children: Stella, 3, and Owen, 2
• Enjoys hunting, playing Gibson Les Pauls and reading Cotton Farming magazine


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