AgFax Cotton: Rain & Cloudy Conditions Play Havoc With Louisiana Cotton

By AgFax Media LLC,


More bolls are opening and the crop is moving toward harvest, at least the portion of it planted on time. Rain and cloudy conditions are raising concerns about heat unit accumulations, aside from worries about disease and boll rot.

Plant bugs and bollworms continue to be a problem in isolated areas. A big chunk of the crop, though, has moved past the point that insects matter.


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

"Cotton is spread out. Some fields are close to defoliation, which may start at the end of this week, and other fields are only in the second or third week of bloom. At the earliest, it will be mid-September before we begin any harvest. This is the first year in 40 that I didn't see an open boll in July.

"It's not unusual for us to deal with plant bugs, but this year's populations have been massive. We've let the older cotton go, but if the plants are blooming, it's a given that plant bugs are present. We have a lot of 'checker-board' fields and must figure out whether they justify another spraying.

"With bollworms, we saw some treatment slippage in the 2-gene cotton and the 3-gene has had a bit of damage. Most of our cotton this year is 3-gene.

"The crop has a small amount of target spot, but we haven't had the rains in this area that the Delta has seen, just sporadic showers. Overall, I'm not optimistic about this being a year uniform, great yields.

"Some growers finished corn harvest and everyone else is cutting."

Keith Collins, Extension Agent, Richland, Ouachita and Franklin Parishes, Rayville, Louisiana:

"Overall, cotton looks pretty good, but the story has not yet to play out. We need a dry harvest season, which we have not had in the last couple of years. I heard that the first defoliation application went out in this area today (8/28).

"Plant bugs have been sporadic all season with just occasional hot spots. In another week or so, most insect applications will be terminated.

"A limited amount of rice harvest started. If we stay dry, that should really be rolling within the next couple of weeks. Growers drained several fields last week.

"Our corn harvest is 50% to 70% done. Yields are off 5% to 10% from last year's average, which ran 180 to 190 bu/acre in Richland Parish. This year, frequent rains kept soils waterlogged at critical times and also caused nitrogen loss.

"Stink bugs have exploded over the last two weeks in soybeans planted in mid-May. Mostly, they're greens with redbanded in the mix."

Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

"With this recent heat, cotton is rapidly finishing. No pickers are moving yet, but defoliation is underway. The forecast calls for favorable harvest conditions in central Louisiana over the next two weeks. Expectations are good for the early-planted crop, but everyone hesitates to get too excited. We've dealt with plenty of challenges this season.

"Bollworms are still in the top canopy and feeding on thumb-size bolls. Many growers have exhausted their 2019 insecticide budgets and are letting the worms go. They can't invest any more money in the crop, considering the market prices. I know guys who are still fighting heavy plant bug numbers in later-planted cotton. In spots, spider mites also are showing up.

"In soybeans, stink bugs are hit-or-miss. Several people have asked, 'Where are the redbanded stink bugs?' Other callers tell me that significant numbers of redbanded stink bugs are concentrating in late soybeans. Overall, though, they haven't been as bad statewide as we'd predicted.

"Loopers are appearing, especially in the northern part of the state. We're catching anywhere from 3 to 10 per 25 sweeps. The threshold is 36 worms per 25 sweeps, but we expect those numbers to jump in the next couple of weeks.

"Corn harvest is making headway. The earliest-planted crop is out of the field and yields are fair. I'm hearing from 230 bushels per acre to 140, irrigated and dryland."