I grew up in the Mississippi Delta surrounded by agriculture. While in high school, I worked on various farms and even in a cotton gin. During college, I started working with Jimmy Walker, who was an independent consultant from Rolling Fork, Miss. It was my admiration for him as a person as well as a consultant that ultimately steered me toward becoming a crop consultant myself.
In 2016, we struggled with establishing a good stand because the last two weeks of May and the first week of June were very dry. The growing season went well until wet weather hit in August and September, which led to target leaf spot showing up in almost every field. Despite these rough patches, harvest season was dry, we picked a good crop and grades were excellent.
Pigweed And Plant Bugs
Our most challenging weed is glyphosate-resistant pigweed, especially following the major flood we experienced in 2011. We primarily depend on overlapping residuals and look forward to new herbicide technology to control this pest. We have also learned a lot from people north of us who have fought pigweed for 10 years before it invaded our area. And we follow the recommendations of weed scientists in Mississippi and the neighboring states of Tennessee and Arkansas as well. Italian ryegrass and marestail are two other weeds we contend with, but pigweed remains No. 1.
In the insect arena, tarnished plant bug is our most troublesome pest, followed by thrips, two-spotted spider mites and bollworms. We typically spray Transform® WG insecticide during the first couple weeks of July. It is a selective insecticide that doesn’t stir up a lot of other pests. If Transform were not available as an option for plant bug control, we would be putting pressure on the more broad-spectrum insecticides and likely have problems with secondary pests. Removing Transform’s mode of action from the toolbox also would increase the potential for resistance to build up.
By the time farmers are reading this article, I hope they have corrected any drainage problems that exist and begun making plans for irrigating throughout the season. Our Extension scientists have made huge strides in helping us with irrigation, and our producers can benefit from adding it to their production strategy. They should also have potassium, phosphorus and lime out in time to meet fertility needs for the upcoming season.
Farmers are excited about growing cotton again, and acreage is predicted to increase significantly throughout the state this year. Yields are going up and fiber quality is improving with every new generation of technology introduced to the market. We’ve seen this happen for about four years now so it’s not a fluke. I believe we have some bright years ahead.
- B.S., agricultural entomology, Mississippi State University
- Operated Boykin Agri Management Inc. for 36 years
- Consults on cotton, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat and peanuts. Boykin also offers soil sampling services.
- Owned Southern Soils Lab Inc. in Yazoo City, Miss., since 2011
- Past president of Mississippi Agricultural Consultants
- Member of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
- His nephew, Dee Nelson Boykin (above center), has worked with Dee for 15 years. His nephew, Don Collins (above left), has worked with him for nine years.
- Enjoys hunting and following Mississippi State sports