Weather, to no one’s surprise, topped the list of 2011 concerns for cotton consultants and their clients from Texas to North Carolina. And, based on regional reports during the annual Cotton Consultants Conference, weather issues included the gamut from record-setting drought, unrelenting heat, devastating floods, humidity and hail stones as big as lemons.

The consultants’ conference is a kick-off for the annual National Cotton Council’s Beltwide Cotton Conferences, held this year in Orlando, Fla.


The Mid-South also had drought and heat issues but only after early-season flooding and cold temperatures set back planting and early emergence.

“Hot and dry came after cold and wet,” said Tucker Miller, Miller Entomological Services, Drew, Miss. Early rainfall and flooding was made worse in some Delta areas when a levee was blown, flooding vast areas of farmland.

“We also had a lot of wind, which turned over center pivot systems,” Miller said. “And we had hail, lemon-sized hail.”

He said growers got a late start planting. “We like to start around April 20, but a lot that was planted that early had to be replanted,” he said. Most planting was under way in earnest by mid-May and “cotton caught up quickly.”

Miller said Mid-South cotton farmers continue to watch for glyphosate-resistant weeds, which include waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, horseweed, giant ragweed and goosegrass.

He said variety selection is another concern. “Some of our non Bt refuge cotton made 200 pounds per acre more than BG II varieties and Stoneville 5288 also performed well. Miller said he believes low-level bollworm damage may account for some of the yield difference in BGII cotton and has seen yield advantages with a supplemental spray application.

He said thrips control remains a concern. “About 70 percent of Mississippi cotton required an additional foliar application. I’m not certain why we’re seeing heavy thrips pressure.”

He said the tarnished plant bug is also troublesome and in 2011 cost farmers $97.50 per acre. That compares to only $24.50 in 2002. “We’re trying to block cotton away from corn,” he said, to limit in-migration.

“We’re managing for earliness and are making early applications of Diamond insecticide.” Mixtures are also important control tools, he said. “And we may need to shorten spray intervals in areas with heavy pressure. New chemistry may help.”

Miller said high temperatures possibly contributed to 4-bract squares in 2011. And bacterial blight has resulted in yield losses of 200 to 300 pounds per acre.

“In 2012, we need to realize that consultants have to be involved in all areas of production,” Miller said. “Knowledge is the key.”