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Rainfall in recent weeks has turned cotton prospects from horrible to hopeful across most of the Southwest, but increased moisture also exposed growers to other challenges—storm damage, plant disease and weed pressure
Shane McLellan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for McLennan County inspects cotton on the Stiles Farm during last week’s annual field day. Cotton in the Blacklands has overcome a slow start and shows promise of making a decent crop, say Extension observers.
Rainfall in recent weeks has turned cotton prospects from horrible to hopeful across most of the Southwest, but increased moisture also exposed growers to other challenges—storm damage, plant disease and weed pressure.
Given the alternative, they prefer facing the challenges that comes with moisture over the heartache that accompanies prolonged drought.
“Suffice it to say ‘thank God for the rain,’” says Kerry Siders, Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management agent for Cochran and Hockley counties.
Siders says recent rainfall amounts have been spotty across the two-county area and crop injury has become “hard to track to know what storm caused this or that. For the most part it looks like we have turned the corner and it’s looking like the crop will be productive. If not it is time to make the hard [replant] decisions on cotton and move on. I believe a stand of cotton will yield as long as it is a consistent stand of more than 19,000 plants (1.5 plants per foot) per acre and will be squaring soon. Anything less than this by now is questionable.”
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Siders says insect pest problems have been few. “I am not finding much on cotton plants. But with weed pressure from recent rains, I expect weeds will be an initial host for some insect pests. These pests may turn their attention to cotton when interest runs out on the weeds.”
He says cotton growth stages range from three true leaves to near match-head size squares on ten total node cotton. Square set is good—100 percent in the 50 percent of fields that are squaring. “No square losses from insect injury have been noted to date.”