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Early Decisions are Crucial

06-14CFcvrFLORIDA David Wright

Farming is like life in that you never know what kind of turn it will take and what the issues will be. We had a slow start to planting cotton and peanuts in Florida, and corn was slow growing off due to cold, wet conditions early with leaching rains. Producers are still planting many fields, and most fields have areas in them that have been left out due to wet areas. This makes management more difficult. When the crop has been delayed, insect pressure may be different than what occurs in a normal year. Plant bugs are always a concern for setting early fruit, and the later than normal planting will make it more important to keep any fruit that is set so that harvest can be done on a timely basis. The climatologists are predicting an El Niño weather phase for the fall, which would mean more rain. This can create problems for harvest if the harvest does not start until later than normal. A couple of weeks of dry weather can get planting back on track, and scouting will help producers identify pests that need to be controlled. As with life, our producers have learned how to deal with many of the challenges that arise, and we are often surprised how well the crops do under the growing conditions that occur during the year. wright@ufl.edu

ALABAMA Dale Monks

The Alabama cotton crop has gotten off to a slow start with delayed planting and heavy rainfall. South Alabama has been especially inundated this spring with so much rain that producers had to plant around low areas to avoid getting their equipment stuck. I have seen a lot of low areas in fields with standing water that has turned green with algae growth. This is not unlike a situation in 2013 where we found minnows swimming in “mud holes” out in the field. Even with all of the delays in late April and May, our producers have been able to plant a great deal of the crop but have had to replant significant areas as well. The central Alabama cotton and soybean scouting school will be conducted on June 4 at 8:30 a.m. at the Autaugaville agricultural center. The regional Extension agent in that area is Rudy Yates, and he can be reached via e-mail at yatesrp@ auburn.edu. The southeast Alabama cotton scouting school will be held on June 5 at 8:00 a.m. at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland. Brandon Dillard, REA for that area, can be reached via e-mail at dillaba@auburn.edu. Weekly crop updates are posted on our website at www.alabamacrops.com. monkscd@auburn.edu

MISSOURI Mike Milam

With the heavy rainfall and cool temperatures, planting has taken place in spurts. We have had several periods of dry weather and lots of wet conditions. For the week ending May 18, we are at 62 percent planted. We had 8, 44 and now 62 percent planted for the past three weeks. As of this week, we are at the five-year average. We have forecasts of dry weather for at least a week. It is uncertain if we will see an increase in cotton acreage as suggested by the planting intentions. Producers can still plant cotton later than normal due to the lack of boll weevils and insect-resistant cotton. Some of the earlier planted cotton doesn’t look so good, but the newly emerging cotton appears to be in good shape. We have gone from flooded fields to needing rain to germinate the later planted cotton. The cool nights have delayed development, but we are now having warmer temperatures which should help. We still face challenges due to the resistant weeds. Some preemerge herbicides were not activated due to the dry soils, while others have played out. This is shaping up to be a challenging year. Long-range forecasts indicate that we could have average to warmer temperatures during the growing season and less to average rainfall. With our alluvial soils and irrigation potential, it is too early to count Missouri out. It all depends on what happens the rest of the season. milammr@missouri.edu

NORTH CAROLINA Keith Edmisten

Last year was probably the worst plant bug year ever for North Carolina, mostly in the northeastern part of the state. We certainly want to be on the lookout for them this year, but, on the same hand, we don’t want to overreact to plant bugs if they are not as problematic this year. The high levels of plant bug damage in the northeast part of the state may have been at least partially due to the wet, cloudy weather we had. We had a plant bug scare back in the 90s, and there was some cotton sprayed for plant bug damage the following year because they thought plant bugs were taking squares before the plants even started squaring. Monitoring square retention prior to bloom and dirty squares after bloom will help you identify if and where more time consuming plant bug sampling is needed. Scouting procedures for plant bugs are described on pages 121-22 of the 2014 Cotton Information. keith_edmisten@ncsu.edu

LOUISIANA Dan Fromme

Cotton planting began around April 20 and was completed about four weeks later in Louisiana. Planting in parts of central Louisiana was delayed a couple of weeks due to dry soil conditions. Overall, planting conditions were good throughout the state. Temperatures for a majority of the time were favorable for emergence and initial cotton growth and development. Once planting was completed, and cotton had emerged, sidedress applications of nitrogen were made. Insect pressure from thrips has been heavy enough to warrant foliar insecticide applications. This year, early season seedling disease pressure has been minimal. As of May 19, older cotton is now at the five to six true leaf stage. Once cotton has begun to square, producers and consultants will be concentrating on square retention and managing plant height with mepiquat products to reduce rank and vegetative growth later in the season. The number one tool for managing plant height is a good fruit load of about 70 to 80 percent square retention of first position squares. Once the cotton plant has reached match head square stage, begin to monitor plant growth, environmental conditions and square load. Pre-bloom mepiquat applications are made ahead of the growth curve to help you more effectively manage vegetative growth. These applications will not shrink the cotton plants; they only restrict vegetative growth after the application. Primary factors to consider in applying pre-bloom mepiquat applications include knowing the variety and its growth habits. Some grow more aggressively than others. Know and understand the history of the field and the capacity of its soil type to produce excessive or rank growth. Last, but not least, consider the total nitrogen available to the crop and the amount yet to be applied. dfromme@ext.msstate.edu

GEORGIA Guy Collins

As I write this on May 15, Georgia producers have planted about a third of our cotton acreage, which is slightly later than normal due to a couple of significant rains in early and mid-May that kept producers out of the field for the few days following. We experienced a widespread rain last night that will likely put planting on hold for a few more days. However, the forecast for the latter part of May is rather clear, which will hopefully allow the remainder of acreage to be planted in a timely manner. Although some producers have been somewhat behind schedule with planting the 2014 crop due to weather, we are thankful for the moisture to get this crop started. Throughout the planting period, intense scouting for thrips presence and injury is necessary to determine if and when additional action is needed, as thrips are a very consistent pest in Southwest Georgia. guyc@uga.edu

TEXAS Mark Kelley

Planters are rolling, but not at the level that would be expected this time of year. The holdup? With better than average chances for precipitation for the next few days (May 21-26), some producers are taking the wait and see approach, while others are planting subsurface drip irrigated fields with the hope that the forecast holds true. Although much of the area is behind in terms percent of acres planted for this time of year, there are some locations where cotton seedlings have emerged. Furthermore, some earlier planted fields that were subjected to the cool temperatures in early May have shown some symptoms of chilling injury to the young tap roots. These plants will not be as vigorous as those without injury throughout the growing season but can still produce cotton. The terminated tap root will be replaced by a secondary root system with a more lateral growth habit, resulting in “crow-foot” roots that are unable to reach deeper moisture (where available) and nutrients. Reports of this type of injury are currently few in number and hopefully will not increase as the threat of temperatures dipping to levels that cause chilling has passed. All that cotton producers on the Texas High Plains and Panhandle regions need now is for the radar to turn green for a few days indicating a good “sloaker” (slow-soaking rain event). mkelley@ag.tamu.edu

TEXAS Gaylon Morgan

As of May 20, most of the cotton production regions in South and East Texas received some much needed rain in the middle of May. With the rain came some record cool temperatures that slowed cotton growth; however, the cooler temperatures were a small sacrifice for the much needed rain. These rains will allow the Southern Blackland farmers to finish planting cotton and dry planted cotton to germinate in the region. The cotton crop throughout South and East Texas is progressing nicely with few reports of major insect infestations. The Rolling Plains remain in an extreme or exceptional drought, according to the USDA drought monitor. Irrigated producers have been prewatering and began planting their irrigated cotton in the middle of May. However, the dryland cotton producers must have some significant rain in the next few weeks if there is any hope of establishing a cotton crop. gmorgan@ag.tamu.edu

ARKANSAS Bill Robertson

The first 40 days set the foundation for yield and fiber quality potential for the season. Pest management issues have generally been the greatest concerns for our current crop that is now about 30 days old. However, as we move into the next few weeks, other factors, including fertility, soil moisture and carbon stress, become more critical. Carbon stress is generally a result of extended cloudy weather. We can’t do much about the clouds but managing plant growth to avoid excessive vegetative growth is our best practice to minimize the impact on fruiting of the carbon stress that occurs. The best way to address fertility is to follow the 4Rs. Using the right source, the right rate, at the right time and the right place improves fertilizer efficiency and reduces any environmental concerns that may exist. Irrigation water management is our next big challenge. Having a plan to know when to start, how often to run and when to quit is key. There are many programs, tools and practices available that producers can use to help improve irrigation water use efficiency. Contact your local County Extension Agent for more information. brobertson@uaex.educ.

MISSISSIPPI Darrin Dodds

Cotton planting kicked into high gear in Mississippi during the first week of May. Producers have been moving as fast as possible since that time and have only been held up by rain showers. Although we are on track with our five-year average in terms of having a given percentage of our crop planted at a specific time, it still seems like we are running somewhat behind. One issue that some of our producers have encountered this year revolves around the speed with which this crop has been planted. Many are covering significant acres in a short period of time; however, due to high winds and rainfall, several have had issues getting preemergence herbicides applied immediately after planting. In several cases, the crop has emerged (as well as glyphosate-resistant pigweed) prior to a residual herbicide being applied. Depending on the technology contained in the cotton seed that was planted, cotton and pigweed emerging simultaneously has created issues for several folks. As of this writing, calls are beginning to pour in regarding thrips. Looks like our little friends have rejoined the fray once again. darrind@ext.msstate.edu.

OKLAHOMA Randy Boman

It appears that the summer of 2014 will be another super challenging year for agricultural producers in our region. Extreme and exceptional drought have now painted essentially all counties west of I-35 in western Oklahoma. This also affects the entire Texas Panhandle, as well as most of the South Plains and Rolling Plains areas. These drought conditions are going to have a terrible effect on all summer crops for the fourth consecutive year unless substantial rainfall is obtained soon. Early May temperatures were somewhat cool, which delayed significant cotton planting until the end of the second week. Irrigated producers worked diligently to get their cotton planted and fought considerable daily high winds and soil moisture evaporation losses. Dryland crop planting will go down to the wire over much of the region, with producers keeping one watchful eye on the sky and the other on the final planting date for insurance purposes. Co-ops, elevators, gins and other businesses continue to take economic hits with wheat and canola getting hurt by drought and late freeze damage. We are optimistic that rainfall will provide some runoff to maintain our municipal water supplies, which are getting very short. randy.boman@okstate.edu.

VIRGINIA Hunter Frame

Despite heavy rainfall on May 16-17 across the Virginia cotton production region, warmer than normal temperatures and a break from rain provided Virginia producers a window during the first two weeks of May to plant a large percentage of the cotton acres. Temperatures in the low 90s allowed cotton to emerge quickly with optimum soil moisture for much of the cotton-growing areas. By the time you read this article, many of Virginia’s producers will be ready to apply the first round of plant growth regulator (PGR) applications. In evaluating the past two seasons, soil moisture has not been limiting. However, this is an important condition to consider at the time immediately following the PGR application when making decisions on the rate (aggressiveness) of the PGR application. Variety growth habitat should also be considered when making decisions on PGR management. My philosophy can be considered more aggressive (intensive) in the sense that I like to see producers near matchhead square and making multiple applications of low rates throughout pre- to early bloom period. The application rates are determined by the plant height and the internode length above and below the fourth node down the main stem. Our data show that a PGR application at matchhead square controls plant height more than a high rate later in the growing season. The 2014 growing season is starting out much like 2012 and 2013 in precipitation with warmer temperatures. Let’s hope that consistent and timely rainfall continue to fall throughout the 2014 growing season. whframe@vt.edu