By AgFax Media LLC, AgFax.com
Many farmers are making a last big push to finish planting cotton. After cool and wet weather, conditions were mostly open and warm this week, so planters have been running across much of the region. Rain was expected on Thursday, so that set an informal deadline for wrapping it up.
Plants were responding to better growing conditions after stalling out during cold spells and heavy rains.
How much cotton finally shifts to soybeans is anybody's guess. How much it rains later this week will be a factor.
Weather issues this month in the upper Midsouth will reduce some of the expected cotton acreage. Aside from direct losses to flooding in Arkansas and Missouri, high rivers are pushing seep water under levees and killing crops or at least setting them back. Hail in parts of northeast Arkansas flattened a good deal of established crops.
High winds in the middle of this week likely damaged at least some cotton in parts of the region. We have not had direct reports about sand blasting in cotton, but a Missouri rice consultant said today that wind damage was obvious in certain fields on Wednesday afternoon.
Thrips pressure has been less than some people expected, likely because heavy rains kept washing the insects off plants.
LOUISIANA CROP REPORTS
Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana
"We're still trying to finish cotton planting. Big rains developed over the last 7 to 10 days (from 5/15), which knocked us out of the field in places. Some cotton planted before that last rain is mostly doing okay but has only reached the first true leaf. No pest issues yet.
"People who still have acres to plant will stay with cotton, I think. We're not talking about a lot of acres still unplanted. However, if it rains again toward the end of this week, the story might change. Our lighter soils tend to go to corn and sugarcane, so cotton is mostly planted on mixed and heavy clay soils. Another rain this week might prompt growers to skip some of that last cotton."
Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana
Cotton ranges from just emerged to about 600 acres of early-planted cotton that's at the eighth to ninth node. Between those two points we have a lot of fields at first to second true leaves. That 600 acres of early planted cotton has really taken off in the last few days now that the weather has improved.
"Thrips pressure hasn't been heavy, but cotton stalled during 10 to 14 days of wet, cool weather, so we had to treat to keep thrips from setting back those young plants. The rain really threw us behind. It totaled 5 to 6 inches in a 10-day period. We are through planting cotton."
Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist
Cotton planting in Louisiana is 90% to 95% completed, and we just need warm weather now to move past issues with thrips and seedling disease. In the past 2 weeks we've had periods of cool, wet weather, which held back the crop. Overall, we've probably replanted 20% to 30% of this year's crop. Conditions look better now (5/16), so I think we'll get over the hump on how this crop started.
"Applications for thrips have been pretty common, and just about everyone I've talked to needed to spray. With all the rain, growers lost a lot of the protective insecticides, aside from the fact that cotton stalled out in the cool weather. Once plants get past that fifth leaf stage, thrips will be less of a factor."
Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana
Everything is shaping up now, and we're finally moving past this early-season adversity. We still haven't had things as bad as our friends in the upper Delta, what with all the flooding, so I'm not going to complain.
"The cotton I'm checking ranges from just sprouting up to 4 leaves. We have had a good bit of seedling disease in cotton planted in early April, but it seems to have overcome that and appears to be off to the races.
"I haven't had any bad thrips situations yet. I thought this would be a heavy thrips year but it hasn't turned out that way yet. Maybe all the rain washed enough of them off plants to hold populations at bay.
"We've found a lot of brown stink bug injury in corn this year. Mostly, it's a cosmetic effect. However, seeing this level of stink bugs now could be an indicator that things could get worse as the next generation develops. Other insects seem to be gaining a head start. I've been sweeping in clovers and such and have been catching more plant bugs than I can easily count. Last year we didn't begin finding redbanded stink bugs in north Louisiana until the first week of July, but we're already picking up thousands of them in clover – crimson clover in particular.
"All of my crops have been planted, and it's rare that we've wrapped up planting before June. One indication about how warm the winter was, we have cotton coming back from stalks that were mowed last year. Those stalks are putting on roots. In places we have that cotton growing where we also have planted cotton."