The 2014 Mid-South cotton planting season is wrapping up quickly, and growers are putting out thrips sprays, dealing with pigweed and mulling over replant decisions, according to state cotton specialists and agronomists.
Newly-hired Arkansas Extension cotton specialist Bill Robertson hit the ground running this spring, coming on board in the middle of planting season. He’s been busy from Day 1.
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“The first full week in May, anybody wanting to plant cotton was in the field.” Robertson said. “That was about the time that our soil temperatures really started warming up. We made a ton of progress that week. Some of the farmers with the GPS and RTK guidance were planting 24 hours a day. A lot of farmers have finished planting (as of May 20).”
Robertson said a lot of cotton has come up and is looking good. “I’ve gotten a few calls on splash up injury from herbicides. We’re just now getting into good weather for growing cotton. But we may have some replanting, and cotton producers are evaluating that right now.”
“Last week, (May 11-18) was a pretty tough week,” said Mike Milam, agronomy specialist for Pemiscot and Dunklin counties. “It rained a good bit of the time, and we’ve had some cool nights up here too. We were a little bit drier around Senath and Kennett, and producers in those areas were able to get a little more planting done.”
Milam says the state was about halfway through cotton planting by May 19, but should wrap up quickly with the right conditions. “With good weather for the 8-10 days, we have a chance to get some seeds in the ground.”
A number of Bootheel cotton fields are up to a stand, Milam said. “Most of it is still in the cotyledon stage. We usually start planting around April 20. Most farmers really didn’t get started planting cotton until after May 1.”
Tennesse, Louisiana, Mississippi
“We had a better spring this year than last year. That’s a big plus,” said University of Tennessee weed scientist Larry Steckel. “Week before last, (May 4-10) the majority of our cotton went into the ground. We’re about 75 percent planted.”
Steckel said stands of cotton he’s seen “are looking good. This week, we’re probably going to start pulling the trigger on Orthene for thrips.
“The biggest problem we’ve had, both in cotton and soybeans, was the wind during planting season. It was so bad that we couldn’t spray, so we had a lot of fields without pre-emergence herbicides. We have pigweed up, and farmers are trying to spray Liberty. In some cases, they may have had an early pre-plant down with the burndown that is still holding, and they’re trying to put Dual over the top.
“I hope we don’t have a bunch of pigweed messes. The next week to 10 days will tell the story.”
Cotton planting in Louisiana is essentially complete, according to Dan Fromme, Extension corn and cotton specialist for Louisiana. “Our oldest cotton is around 5-leaf to 6-leaf. Believe it or not, some areas need a rain.”
Growers report a few thrips problems, Fromme said, “which is nothing out of the norm. Seedling disease has not been much of an issue this year. We’ve had pretty good temperatures overall for cotton. Nitrogen is going out. So the season is going good so far.”
Cotton planting started in Louisiana around April 20, according to Fromme. “We had four weeks of relatively uninterrupted planting. Some parts of south Louisiana were too dry and had to shut down about two weeks ago. With this last rain, they were able to finish up.”
If good planting weather continues, “by the weekend, or the middle of next week (May 28) we’re going to be all but done,” said Mississippi Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds. Dodds said planting “really kicked off around May 5.”
Rains have frequently interrupted planting progress during that time, Dodds said, but there were also plenty of 5-day to 6-day wide open runs where producers got a lot done.
“We’ve replanted a little bit of cotton this year for various reasons. Some it got rained on and didn’t come up. Some of it was herbicide injury behind the planter. What’s fired up in the last couple of days is thrips pressure.”
Glyphosate-resistant pigweed has also been an early issue, Dodds noted. “We’ve planted this crop in a very timely manner. In some cases, we covered so much ground, and it either got windy or it rained, and we didn’t get behind it and get a pre-emerge down. Several farmers have pigweed and the crop coming up at the same time.”