AgFax Cotton - Louisiana

By AgFax Media LLC,


More cotton is blooming this week and most of it needs rain. Irrigation systems are running in places and at least a small amount of furrow-irrigated cotton is on its second watering.

Plant bugs and spider mites are being treated in places. In some cases, a second plant but application is going out. Our contacts continue to emphasize that no overwhelming pressure has turned up. Aphids are on the scene but any treatments are mostly incidental to other trips across the field, we're told.

More talk about trying to keep up with plant growth regulator applications on certain varieties – or just on cotton in general where plants took off in 2017.

Stand variability is complicating treatment programs in places. In extreme cases, cotton in parts of a field is approaching bloom or at least is into squaring while plants in other parts of the field only have a few true leaves.


Sebe Brown, Northeast Louisiana Region Extension Entomologist:

"It's still dry and that continues to complicate how people manage this cotton crop. The big issue is stand variability. People are dealing with fields that have plants ranging from 2- to 3-leaf cotton in one area to plants almost at bloom in other parts of the field. 

"In some of those locations, they have both thrips and plant bugs, so what kind of treatment program would you use?

"All that is due to drought. We're at least getting little half-inch showers from a system in the Gulf of Mexico. That may go on for another day or two (from 6/19), the forecast says, but then it will be dry again for another week.

"On the positive side, spider mites have not increased as much as I assumed they would. However, a lot of Liberty herbicide has gone out, both at burndown and as a postemerge. It suppresses mites to some extent, so maybe that's helped hold them back early in the year. 

"Cotton aphids are still hanging around. No big influxes have been reported but people are reporting them in more fields. Again, nothing is at blow-out levels. What to do is a field-by-field call. If a field needs a plant bug application, a lot of guys are using Transform because it works on aphids, too. But I have not heard of aphids triggering a specific spray on their own.

"No bollworm pressure to speak of, and trap counts actually eased up some. I think we were in the middle of a bollworm flight a week or two ago but our corn wasn't at a susceptible stage yet. So, the moths flew past it. I don't know where they went because they're not in soybeans or cotton."

Gary Wolfe, La-Ark Agricultural Consulting, Ida, Louisiana:

"Our last rain of any significances fell on April 20. In the last 4 weeks, we've only had 0.3 to 0.4 of an inch in isolated places. Mostly, though, totals have been zeros.

"Plant bugs have been very light except where we can irrigate and counts jumped up some in that cotton. Mainly, we've run imidacloprid once on some cotton.

"I am finding a lot of adult plant bugs in alfalfa but not a high population of immatures, and I'm not sure why not. Maybe the heat affected reproduction. When I sweep alfalfa, the net is usually tied up with immatures – but not right now.

"I found one colony of aphids last week and that was next to a pecan tree. No mites yet. The forecast has a pretty good chance of rain here on Wednesday and Thursday (6/20-21) and the second shot of herbicide is about to go out on some fields. I dread seeing money spent on that but on some of this dryland cotton we have no choice. I'm not working with insurance farmers.

"Where growers can irrigate, they're spraying for weeds and adding something for plant bugs and that's all we're doing right now. Some fields had to be watered up and we have distinctly mixed soils in places – sand on one end and clay on the other. So in some of those fields we have plants approaching bloom on one end but just coming up on the other end. That's complicating Pix and herbicide planning.

"Dryland corn looks like it's pretty much over. Irrigated corn looks pretty decent."

Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist:

"Rain in our cotton parishes has still been mostly spotty and erratic. Cotton is blooming and it needs a rain. That's where we were a week ago and the situation has only changed in those fairly isolated cases where it rained a half-inch to an inch at some point.

"Most of the good rain went to Texas. We've got cloudy skies and drizzle, and except for the heat, you'd think it was a fall day. Cotton is moving into the bloom stage, so water demand will significantly jump."