AgFax MidSouth Cotton: Louisiana

by AgFax Media LLC,


Smelling defoliant yet? More spraying has started. Some applications are on the books as far north as the Missouri Bootheel.

Most insect activity in cotton has wound down.

Disease and weather damage assessments aren't painting an encouraging picture through much of the region. Excessive heat triggered shedding in places in late July and early August. Then it rained too much for too long, which encouraged target spot and bacterial blight on a wide scale. Hard locking and boll rot are obvious in parts of the region, as well.


Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana: "Cotton was hurt by all the rain in August. Even before the main storm and flooding, we were receiving too much rain. After the flooding, it's still been raining too much.

"Defoliation will start going out in the next couple of days. We have a lot of target spot out there and also hard-locked bolls. But maybe the biggest thing to hurt cotton was that string of hot nights in late July and into early August. We had a pretty phenomenal crop up to that point, but then we lost a good deal of fruit between the high temperatures and too much rain."

Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana: "I gave my first defoliation recommendation last week, although I think they probably made the application today (9/5). The farmer is trying to finish soybean harvest, so he should have some cotton ready to pick as the beans wind down. That cotton had cut out and was mostly open. With some of the fuller-season varieties I'm kind of holding back. We've been getting showers today, but in the next 5 to 6 days we'll make our first defoliation shot on that part of the crop.

"Some of this cotton has actually improved in appearance in the last week now that we've gotten sunshine. From a yield standpoint, though, the sunshine came too late. When it started raining in August and we had about 3 weeks of cloudy weather, we missed making the top crop. With better weather for the last 10 days, it started setting a few bolls on top, but we don't have time to make them. When we do defoliate, some of this cotton will look pretty ugly with all that bare space up there.

"Target spot and a range of other diseases are present. We encountered target spot issues 2 years ago down here when we went through a long stretch of wet weather. However, we picked a good cotton crop, even though we lost a considerable amount of leaves.

"But what I'm seeing in the same fields this year may be bacterial blight mixed with target spot and any number of other foliar diseases. That's all because of the weather – notably, lack of sunlight. I'm not particularly worried about the big bolls at this point, but I am concerned about cotton planted in the last part of May. It's still legitimately trying to make bolls, and those plants are being hammered. I know we'll be hurt there.

"The bad part about target spot is that it cranks up so fast. Once you see it, it's almost too late to do anything with a fungicide. If the farmer is willing to prophylactically do a 2-shot fungicide program, you can make a difference. But in that treatment window this year the weather had been dry as a bone. On August 1, the crop didn't have a prayer or target spot, for that matter. But when 3 weeks of rain set in, the game changed, and target spot came on strong.

"It didn't matter what variety you were growing, although it appeared to maybe be worse on some more than others. Even though I've been seeing bacterial blight, it wasn't nearly as bad. But target spot may have taken off the leaves that bacterial blight was on. At the least, I'm not finding many bolls affected by bacterial blight."