On the Ground Reports from the Mid-South

Soybeans gaining ground despite Weather interruptions to planting

Trey Reaper, coordinator of the University of Arkansas' Soybean Verification Program, indicated that statewide, soybeans are 38 to 40 percent planted.

“The beans that went in the ground in late March and early April ran out of moisture in late April,” he said. Now, significant rainfall across the state has interrupted planting.

“Planting progress is tied to moisture. But we are still ahead of schedule,” he said, noting the state average for this time of year is 35 percent planted.

“The early planted crop is doing well; growers are trying to sneak in their first herbicide application. We may see emergence problems on later planted beans. The soybeans that have emerged look really good.”

Reaper noted that some of the projects for the verification program include reviewing insecticidal seed treatments, fungicide use, and closely monitoring for Asian soybean rust.

County Extension Agent Jason Rauls reported the Drew County producers average planting about 5,000 acres of wheat and 5,000 acres of corn annually. Rice acreage averages 25,000 acres. By the second week of May, the rice crop was approximately 90 percent planted and 85 percent emerged.

An average of 25,000 acres is planted to cotton annually. The crop is 75 percent planted and 65 percent emerged. Rauls reported no glyphosate resistant horseweed has been documented in the county.

Another 25,000 acres on average is planted to soybeans. The crop is 85 percent planted and 80 percent emerged.

“We're hoping seed treatments will last,” he said. “Thrips are starting to show. Insect pressure now is light to nonexistent, but we'll continue scouting for false chinch bug and thrips.”

In Lonoke County, Extension Agent Keith Perkins reports that rice is 90 to 95 percent planted but the recent heavy rains have postponed finishing up for at least another week.

Growers have not had to flush the crop because of timely rains, but they cannot fertilize until the soils dry out. Weed control will be important to consider before flooding the crop.

“Farmers get antsy if they don't have their rice planted by mid-May,” he said. “Any acreage they don't get planted into rice likely will be planted to soybeans.”

Excessive rains may force Replanting in La. parishes

In a snapshot overview of Concordia Parish, Extension agent Glen Daniels called the corn crop “beautiful” and said wheat and milo look good.

He said that by the second week of May between 80 and 85 percent of an estimated 90,000 acres of soybeans were in the ground. Unfortunately, rains have been plentiful and the heavier soils are slow to dry.

“Some of the beans that were dry planted are yellowed, or may be rotting,” Daniels noted. “I'm anticipating a 15 to 20 percent replant on soybeans. That's if we don't get any more rain.”

He said 90 to 95 percent of an estimated 38,000 acres of cotton had been planted. “We're inundated with rain. We need dry weather,” he said. When it does begin to dry out, he cautions growers to keep their fields clean and free of grass and weeds.

According to Extension Cotton Specialist Sandy Stewart, most of the Louisiana cotton crop is lagging because of the heavy rains, cooler weather, and cloudy days.

“Although everything is growing slowly right now, I would expect the crop to take a quick jump as soon as we get some more favorable conditions,” he said.

“We have seen a fairly high incidence of seedling disease and some ‘thrippy’ looking cotton whether thrips are actually present or not. The main thing we need is some sunny days and drier conditions. Once we get that, I think the problems with this slow start will likely go away,” Stewart noted.

“When it does dry out a little, there will likely be a pretty good flush of weeds. This will make time of the essence in getting our Roundup Ready cotton treated with glyphosate over-the-top. Unless it is Flex cotton, we need to mindful of the five-leaf rule. The addition of a residual like Dual Magnum or Staple LX will probably be a big help in buying some time on grasses and pigweeds.”

David Lanclos, Extension soybean specialist, notes the difference a day — or 10 days — can make in a crop of soybeans.

“We've done a complete one-eighty,” said Lanclos, noting that just 10 days earlier soybeans were under stress and in a holding pattern for planting because there was not enough moisture. Now producers are waiting for the soil to dry out so they can finish planting.

Spider mites a concern in Delta, Rains may help with control

“We are beginning to see a few cotton fields with early season spider mite infestations in the Delta,” said Angus Catchot, Extension cotton and soybean entomologist with Mississippi State University. “Fortunately the cool weather and scattered showers are keeping the numbers low.”

To date, only a few isolated fields have been treated. But Catchot cautions growers to be aware of a potential problem.

“We do not want to create a problem by making unnecessary early season insecticide applications that have the potential to flare spider mites. It is well documented that products such as acephate or pyrethroids can cause spider mite populations to flare by taking out beneficial insects that feed on the mites, allowing populations to increase rapidly.

“Put a hand lens in your pocket, and scout your fields closely. Problems usually originate around field borders. Treatment is necessary when 40 to 50 percent of the plants have spider mites and the population is increasing. If you have to make an application for spider mites avoid using low-drift tips. The key to good control is coverage and volume,” he said.

“With the mild winter we had, it could be an insect year,” said Grenada County Extension Agent Steve Winters, noting that early season insect pressure on corn has been observed. That's one reason he thinks growers, consultants, cotton checkers and anyone interested in insect identification should consider attending an IPM scout school. There are several scheduled across the area in late May and early June.

Winters reported that Grenada County cotton was 85 to 90 percent planted and 70 percent emerged. He anticipates between 8,000 and 9,000 acres to be planted. “The only problem is the cool, damp weather. The crop is not growing off. The weather is not cooperating,” he said. “The cotton that has been up for three weeks has been sprayed for thrips. The seed-treated cotton shouldn't have to be sprayed, but it needs it.

“Soybeans are doing real well. As far as weed pressure, grass is the main problem. Some growers are getting ready for second weed treatment. I'd rather wait, but I don't think we can.”

Missouri cotton growers struggling To make up for rain-lost time

A wet May has put Missouri cotton growers further behind. According to Extension Cotton Specialist Mike Milam, cotton planting in the Bootheel is 47 percent complete.

“The weather,” he said, “has been rather interesting. We've had a lot more rain than we anticipated.”

The moisture, coupled with fairly cool nights and lower than normal soil temperatures have slowed the emergence of the planted crop. Additionally, packing rains falling on the heavier soils has made it necessary in some cases to lightly cultivate the soil to break up the crust and aid seed emergence.

Milam noted that some early April planted cotton is in the three to four-leaf stage and Boll Weevil Eradication officials told him spraying may begin later this month. “The earlier plantings have done quite well, though they have slowed down some with the cooler weather.”

Original cotton crop forecasts for the area were put at 464,000 acres, but that could go as high as 475,000 acres, he noted, “depending on the rain.”

Milam, who works with a community emergency management program, said he has been spending considerable time in Pemiscot County, which was hard hit in April by tornadoes. There were 700 houses damaged or destroyed, two cotton gins were lost, and debris scattered across fields. He has heard of one producer — an organic cotton farmer — who lost field equipment and will be switching to organic rice and corn this year.

According to Extension Soybean Specialist Jeffrey House in New Madrid County, rainfall amounts in his area have ranged from less than 2 inches to more than 5 inches.

“The cotton ground isn't dry enough for planting,” he said. “There are a lot of beans in the ground because quite a few acres were planted early.”

With all the recent rains, however, he noted that soybeans in the field could face problems from saturated soils.

With the increase in diesel fuel prices over the past couple of years, “we can't afford to run equipment and dry out the fields,” he said.

On the lookout for insects, he said bean leaf beetles have been noted and should be treated with a labeled pyrethroid.

Noting that thrips perform well in dry weather, he isn't anticipating major problems, yet he said it “won't surprise” him if they show up.

He said that because there is no exact handle on treatment thresholds for thrips in soybeans, it will be a field by field judgment call for treatment.

“If thrips appear to be a problem, contact your county agent, chemical dealer or other reputable source for treatment recommendations,” he said, noting that soybeans are relatively resilient and can recover from damage. “Soybeans can look worse and still make a crop.

“Small, early planted beans, 4 inches or less, is where we saw the majority of damage last year, he noted.

Anthony Ohmes, Extension agronomy specialist in Charleston in Mississippi County, said growers were able to sidedress corn between rains and indicated soybean planting is underway as soils dry up.

“It was extremely dry early, and growers held off to plant,” he said. “Beans will soon be going full swing.” He said that some bean leaf beetle has been noted feeding on early-planted soybeans.

Tennessee cotton going in ‘in spurts,’ Farmers looking for dry, sunny days

Across West Tennessee, rains have been abundant and temperatures cool. These conditions slowed progress in the fields.

“Right now, wet weather is hindering cotton planting,” said Scott Stewart, Cotton IPM specialist in Jackson in Madison County.

Fayette County Extension Director Jeff Via concurs. “We're trying to get in the fields now. The rains slowed us down, and the cool front this past weekend is not helping.”

He noted that some cotton planted April 17 is now up to the one-leaf stage.

Fayette County will probably plant 50,000 acres of cotton. As of May 10, the area was approximately 15 to 20 percent planted, “which is about right for the time of year,” according to Via.

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of the soybeans were planted and conditions look good for the crop. Via said sentinel plots were being monitored, as is the weather, to track rust reports “so we can spray when and if needed.”

Corn is 100 percent planted and about knee high, he added.

“We are just waiting for it to dry up,” said Haywood County Extension Agent Tracey Sullivan. “Our soybeans are looking a little puny and cotton planting is off to a sluggish start. First we had the cool temperatures, then rain. Some surrounding counties are further behind than Haywood.”

She noted that cotton producers had only been able to get in their fields for seven days out of the past two weeks. This put the acreage planted at about 5 percent of the estimated total of 118,000 acres.

“Seed costs alone make farmers wary of planting in unfavorable weather conditions,” she said. But, as the weather improves, “We'll have a very busy May ahead of us.”

Stewart added that surrounding states are reporting problems with thrips, with seed treatments failing, but there is too little cotton above ground to draw any conclusions for Tennessee.

On a final note, Extension Weed Specialist Larry Steckel reported that the corn crop is off to a great start. In some cases, it has grown too quickly to apply post herbicides in a timely manner.

“Glyphosate-resistant horseweed burndown is still a hot topic for cotton and soybean producers,” he said. “Many growers are still trying to assess whether or not to apply follow-up burndown treatments to finish off horseweed that survived the initial applications in early April. Some will go ahead and apply follow-up burndown treatments prior to planting, while others will wait and, if needed, try to control any survivors post with Envoke in cotton or FirstRate in soybeans.”

“The state went from too dry to plant cotton in April to too wet in May to plant many acres. Planting has been going in small spurts,” he said.

Gale Norman is a freelance writer based in Memphis, Tenn.

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