Monday, April 15, 2024

2017 Cotton Crop Progress



Randy Norton AZ
Randy Norton e-mail

In my travels around the state over recent weeks, I have observed cotton fields at all stages of development. The crop in western Arizona has now been terminated and is being prepped for harvest. The remainder of the state is at varying stages from peak bloom to cut-out. For the most part, as of this writing, the crop is in fairly good condition.

Heat stress has been prominent this year and has had a significant impact on fruit retention levels across the state. Insect pressure has been light to moderate again this year, and limited treatments for whitefly and lygus have occurred as of this writing. As we approach the final stages of the season, decisions will be made within the next several weeks related to crop termination or final irrigation date. This can be a difficult decision given all the factors to be considered, including current fruit load, crop vigor, soil water-holding capacity and potential heat unit (HU) accumulation.
Observations show approximately 600 HU are required for a fresh bloom to mature to a harvestable boll. Sufficient plant water conditions during this period of fiber development within the boll are critical. A good way to determine the date for your final irrigation is to identify the last flower intended for harvest and the estimated boll maturity date based upon historical HU accumulations.

Data for boll maturity estimates can be found at the Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET) weather site. A final irrigation date can then be estimated to ensure proper crop water status to sustain boll development through to the estimated maturity date. Several factors will provide variation in the amount of water needed to achieve boll maturation that needs to be considered, including soil water-holding capacity, current weather conditions (crop evapotranspiration estimates) and water availability.

More detailed information on this topic and others related to late-season crop management can be found at


Bill Robertson AR
Bill Robertson e-mail

The March Prospective Plantings report released by U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated Arkansas cotton plantings to be 500,000 acres. The 2017 planting season was a difficult one. Several producers switched from planting or replanting cotton to planting soybeans as we got deep into May.

The Arkansas Acreage Report released June 30 estimated acres at 440,000. This estimate is realistic when failed and prevented planting acres are included with the 424,000 acres the Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation had mapped at the time the acreage report was released.

Our cotton crop is much improved since last month. The most recent NASS Crop Progress and Condition Report for Arkansas reported cotton flowering or setting bolls ahead of the five-year average. Thirty-six percent of the cotton was excellent and 49 percent was in good condition.

A crop condition measure many like to use is nodes above white flower (NAWF). The NAWF value at first flower gives a good indication of the plant’s horsepower or its ability to supply fruit load needs. In Arkansas, we target of 9 to 10 NAWF at first flower and define cutout as NAWF=5.

We have seen a lot of variability in NAWF in our April-planted fields. The dominant factor for this is related to available soil moisture. Fields with NAWF values of 6 or 7 at first flower still have the potential to meet our yield goals. However, timing of inputs is critical to meet plant demands to avoid earlier-than-desired cutout.
We have a great deal of horsepower going into flowering in much of the May-planted cotton. We generally see our most vigorous fields averaging 9 to 10 NAWF at first flower. We have seen some fields with 12 to 14 NAWF at first flower.

It is important to know how much horsepower and potential demand exists in your fields to be able to satisfy plant needs to reach your yield goals. It is also important to identify cutout and use heat units beyond cutout to determine input termination.

Our yield potential is very good at this time. Going into August, we must continue to manage the crop in a timely fashion to maintain yield potential while keeping expenses in check and hoping that Mother Nature doesn’t throw us more curveballs.


David Wright FL
David Wright e-mail

July and August are critical months for cotton to set a good boll load. Our farmers try to set most of the fruit load in July for earlier maturity and less management time. However, things happen like insects, dry weather or wet conditions that delay sidedress applications of nitrogen.
In many cases, producers try to add yield to a good fruit load and protect yield from insect and disease damage. Herbicide-resistant weed escapes often are pulled to prevent spreading during harvest, which results in more weeds in subsequent years. Growers are managing height with growth regulators, and some are tankmixing fungicides for target spot and other diseases due to the wet conditions that have occurred. Current crop conditions are favorable for a good yield.


Dan Fromme LA
Dan Fromme e-mail

The Louisiana cotton crop is extremely variable this year due to high rainfall amounts received in April, May and into June. Planting dates ranged from the last week of March through the first week of June. Plant bug numbers have been high during June and July. Bollworm numbers began to increase in July and have been challenging to control. Currently, mepiquat chloride applications are being made to manage plant height. We should start seeing some open bolls during the last part of July and early August.

Farmers and consultants will place emphasis on plant bug and bollworm control for the remainder of the season. Timely rains will be needed during the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August to finish out the 2017 crop. At the end of August, producers will begin defoliating earlier planted cotton fields.

Fluctuation in planting dates, high amounts of rainfall, and heavy plant bug and bollworm pressure have made the 2017 crop extremely variable. These conditions pose a challenge to estimating how good the crop is going to be.


Darrin Dodds MS
Darrin Dodds e-mail

August typically brings a number of changes in Mississippi agriculture. Some grains are being harvested, selected insect sprays have been terminated, and cotton is headed toward the finish line. For those who have irrigation, cracked bolls and water termination usually occurs in early to mid-August.

However, the Mississippi crop as a whole appears to be at least two weeks behind “normal.” In addition, most of this crop has a very shallow root system given all of the rainfall early in the growing season. Having said that, monitor the soil moisture status under your crop carefully and irrigate as necessary to maximize yield.

2017 is stacking up to be the year of challenges. In addition to issues alluded to previously, bollworms started making an appearance in mid-July, and more feeding was observed in two-gene Bt cotton than in years past. It appears there are some changes occurring with bollworm susceptibility to Bt cotton, and foliar oversprays are becoming more common.

The best thing we hope to happen for the 2017 Mississippi cotton crop is fall weather similar to what was observed in 2016 and a few scattered rainfalls during August and early September to help finish out this crop.


Mike Milam MO
Mike Milam e-mail

The July 10 Missouri Crop Progress and Condition Report shows 68 percent of the cotton is squaring and 9 percent is setting bolls. We are slightly behind last year, but ahead of the five-year average. Our cotton acreage is estimated to be 300,000 compared to 280,000 planted last year. The planting intentions were higher, but the weather conditions did not allow the remainder to be planted. Much of our cotton was planted past optimum planting dates.

The big news this year has been dicamba damage complaints, which are up from last year. On July 7, the Missouri Department of Agriculture stopped the use of all dicamba products. However, on July 13, it allowed spraying to continue because we now have Section 24 c labels for Eugenia, XtendiMax and FeXipan. In addition, the Missouri Department of Agriculture has a required notice of application form on its website.

Our cotton appears to have potential, but I have concerns about frequent thunderstorms. We seem to have had several a week, and rain is again predicted over the next few weeks. Growth regulators should be used to keep up square and boll set and promote earliness. We also need to watch for late-season insects and target spot. Weather will be one of the factors that affects our final yield.


Guy Collins e-mail
Guy Collins

The last two weeks of June brought somewhat drier and sunny weather that seemed to improve growth and health of the 2017 crop in North Carolina. As I write this on July 3, the 2017 crop is still two to three weeks behind, depending on when it was planted. Only a few fields produced a bloom before July 4 this year.

With that said, sunny weather with warm temperatures and timely (not excessive) rains can accelerate maturity. In recent newsletters, we’ve encouraged producers to be timely with all of their management practices, which is the best way to approach a later-than-normal crop for earliness.

One concern associated with later-planted cotton is the potential for caterpillar issues, as the cotton crop could be more vulnerable and a likely target for moths during the prime periods of their flight. Most farmers will know if caterpillars are likely to be a problem by the time this article is published. However, several factors are already aligning in early July to suggest caterpillars may again be a challenge in 2017.

Previous research conducted by our North Carolina State University Extension entomologist has shown when bollworm pressure is heavy, proactive management targeted at eggs and very small larvae is more effective than reactive management. This can only be accomplished with thorough and frequent scouting.


Randy Boman OK
Randy Boman e-mail

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service released the 2017 Planted Acreage Report on June 30. According to the report, NASS is projecting 470,000 planted cotton acres in the state. For Oklahoma, this is a 54 percent increase compared to last year’s 305,000 planted acres. If we have a good to excellent production season, the bale volume could once again test the ginning infrastructure.

Overall, it has been a fairly challenging start for many producers, but we believe the overall crop is in reasonably good condition at this time. Earlier planted irrigated cotton is blooming, and many fields came into first bloom at 10-12 nodes above white flower, which indicates a solid yield potential if later factors align. We are still waiting for the later planted irrigated and considerable dryland acres to hit the bloom stage. The nodes above white flower count will provide good information with respect to yield potential.

We had excellent rainfall in many areas, but some dryland fields are being released due to skippy stands arising from poor emergence. We are seeing some abandonment at this time. These fields typically missed beneficial rainfall to assist filling in stands after high winds dried out soil in the seed zone behind the planters. There has been some hail in places, but it has not had a major effect on acres across the state.

After various rainstorms, weed flushes were observed. It is readily apparent that producers opted to not include residual herbicides either preplant or pre-emergence in some fields. This was obviously a not a good decision, and weed pressure was substantial. The importance of overlapping residual herbicides cannot be overstated. As we move into August, the dryland crop likely will be “getting thirsty,” and producers will be watching the skies for that important August rain.


Tyson Raper TN
Tyson Raper e-mail

Tennessee’s cotton crop began to grow rapidly during the third week in June. Fortunately for those growing corn, most areas have received a minimum of an inch of rain per week from mid-May to early July. Additionally, temperatures have been relatively moderate.

Although this will likely result in an above-average corn crop, our cotton crop has not accumulated the heat units we were blessed with during the 2016 season and it has slightly delayed cotton maturity. Blooms were scattered through the earliest planted cotton by July 4, but I suspect the average acre in Tennessee had its first bloom on July 7.

I believe a hot, dry June is one of the best environmental scenarios for a cotton crop. After experiencing slight water deficits during the early vegetative stage, the transition from emphasizing vegetative growth to emphasizing reproductive growth is generally much smoother. With that said, proper plant growth management has been very important this year.

Here on July 9, our crop is currently growing very rapidly, and it is time to pull back on the reins. Rain chances have been disappearing from the forecast, so selecting a mepiquat chloride rate high enough to slow growth without risking negative yield impacts if rain disappears from the forecast has been tricky. It appears this weather pattern will continue for the next several weeks, so by the time you read this you’ll probably be making a decision on your last plant growth regulator decision while in the same predicament.

I’ll post another PGR article on our website near the end of July. However, I’ve been leaning toward higher rates to potentially produce a shorter plant to possibly reduce target spot incidence and severity. Keep up by visiting or Twitter @TysonRaper for updates.


Galon Morgan TX
Gaylon Morgan e-mail

Most of South and East Texas looks promising for good yields and favorable quality. Certain dryland areas throughout these regions have missed some rains and only have moderate yield potential. Harvest in the Lower Rio Grande Valley was underway in mid-July and will be well underway in the Coastal Bend by the first of August.

This harvest season is a bit early compared to recent years, but historically is not off-target by much. Cotton in the Upper Gulf Coast is progressing more slowly with adequate moisture and excellent yield potential. The Blacklands’ crop from south to north is also looking good, with more variability in crop condition in the southern region. Variable best describes both the

Southern and Northern Rolling Plains this season in stand establishment, crop stag and hail damage.
The irrigated cotton looks decent approaching bloom, while dryland cotton is six nodes to bloom stage. Hailstorms have been prevalent this year throughout the Rolling Plains and have affected a lot of acres. Most producers have been successful with their weed control programs this year, whether using LibertyLink, Roundup Ready Flex, XtendiMax or Enlist technologies. Fortunately, we have had minimal off-target movement of the labeled dicamba products or Enlist Duo. However, we have observed numerous fields that received applications of the incorrect product, causing tremendous damage to the non-tolerant crop.


Seth Byrd TX
Seth Byrd e-mail

Rain during late June and early July brought relief from a hot, dry period that lasted from a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on what part of the region you’re in. We’re entering the middle part of the season for cotton that’s on the “normal schedule,” or what’s left of it after a challenging first couple of months.

There also are many replanted cotton acres or even cotton planted as far back as mid-May that are at cotyledon stage in early July. This crop faces an uphill battle in producing any harvestable bolls. But, more often than not in replant situations, going back to cotton was the most attractive and favorable option.

As of July 13, much of the Texas High Plains cotton crop is one to three weeks behind where we would expect it based on planting date. However, most of it should be in bloom by the middle of July. This will still leave five to six weeks for flowering and setting fruit before our typical last effective bloom date of Aug. 25. Supplying adequate water to the crop will be key during this period of peak moisture demand, especially though the third to fourth week of flowering as the plant produces blooms and begins filling bolls.

For producers in the northern part of the Panhandle, the last effective bloom date may even be earlier, depending on what sort of weather the fall brings. In these shorter-season areas, late-season management of irrigation and nitrogen is critical to optimize maturity, time harvest-aid effectiveness and avoid excessive late-season growth.

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