With last fall’s rain-drenched harvest season still fresh in their minds, Mid-South farmers anxiously watched the forecast as we moved in to a cool, wet spring.
Weather conditions led to burndown being pushed back in many areas of the region, and even getting into the field with tillage equipment to smooth out the ruts from 2009 was a challenge for many producers.
“Initially, the main holdup in getting started this year was not being able to apply our burndown on schedule,” says Arkansas Extension cotton specialist Tom Barber. “We have had some horseweed issues in several fields and had to spray a fairly high rate of Ignite to kill the existing weeds.”
But, as the weather began to cooperate, farmers in central and south Arkansas started planting around April 14, and, by the third week of the month, were well above their five-year average as far as cotton plantings.
Ty Edwards, a consultant in north Mississippi, says a late burndown was also an issue with farmers in his area.
“Our main problem is marestail,” he says. “We applied Ignite the first time, but, for several reasons, we had to come back with a second burndown using Roundup and diuron to avoid the plant back restriction. At this point, it appears to be doing a fairly good job. We hope to get 85 to 90 percent control of these weeds, then farmers may have to come back and take out the others by hand.”
Automatic Pyrethroid Spray
Edwards notes that another challenge that goes along with late burndown is planting cotton where the weeds have just died. Cutworms, thrips or spider mites may present a problem since these pests tend to harbor themselves on weeds that are out in the field.
“We’re making an automatic pyrethroid spray right now on these places to make sure we don’t have any cutworm problems,” he says. “It actually went out with the Roundup and diuron. Then, when we get past the four- to five-leaf stage, the crop will mostly be in Mother Nature’s hands.”
A Wet, Cool Spring & Leftover Issues
From 2009’s Rainy Harvest Season
Delta Turns To Tillage
Moving further south into the Mississippi Delta, crop consultant Trent LaMastus says so many fields were rutted up from last fall, that most of the farmers bypassed a burndown application and turned to tillage for land preparation.
“We had a good run in March and early April getting the fields worked back into shape, so cotton planting has been on schedule so far in the Delta,” he says. “However, at this time, we’ve run out of moisture to plant, so we could use a good inch to an inch and a half of rain to get the kind of stand we really need.”
John Kruse, LSU AgCenter Extension cotton specialist, says parts of his state also experienced excessive spring rains, resulting in late burndown in some areas.
“The burndown went in under the wire but wasn’t so late that it delayed cotton planting,” he notes. “Our cotton should move forward on schedule. However, at this time, the central part of the state could use some moisture.”
Although weather conditions in the first few months of 2010 made many Mid-South farmers nervous, it appears that they finally caught a break and will move forward into the rest of the season pretty much on schedule.
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.