Moving up the coastline, Refugio County is reporting slightly better corn and sorghum conditions, but cotton continues to struggle for more moisture and additional warmer temperatures.

From Victoria County and extending into Goliad County and north into Jackson, Matagorda, Wharton, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties, weather conditions have changed from cool and wet to slightly warmer and wet. One- to two-inch rains in early May improved corn and sorghum crop conditions but cotton continues to suffer from a cool start to spring. Adding to problems in cotton has been southerly winds that injure smaller cotton early in its development.

"The cotton growth stage is variable throughout the area and ranges from fields that are in the two true-leaf stage to the pinhead square stage. At this slow rate of growth bloom is probably a solid three weeks away in the earlier planted fields. The few cotton fields that are squaring are averaging an 85 percent square set," reported Clyde Crumley, Texas AgriLife, Extension IPM agent

In addition, Crumley expects treatable levels of fleahoppers in cotton fields soon and also warns growers to be on the watch for verde plant bugs in the weeks ahead. He reports low to moderate numbers of big eyed bugs, lady beetles and spider bugs in cotton. He warns that as grain sorghum begins to bloom, producers should be on the watch for sorghum midge, rice stink bugs and headworms.

"Treat soybeans when populations exceed 36 stink bugs per 100 sweeps or one per foot of row when using a beat sheet. When scouting for stink bugs by beating plants with your arms, it is advisable to use some type of white or black cloth beat sheet," Crumley advised.

He says immature stink bugs will often be black or dark colored and will be missed if you just beat the plants on the ground without a beat sheet. Most beat sheets measure 40 inches by 36 inches and have pockets for dowel rods to help stretch them between rows.

Also of concern for the Upper Coastal Bend and Southeast Texas regions are thrips. Crumley says thrips pressure remains moderate to high in most area cotton fields on the Upper Coast.

"Seed treatment insecticides have performed satisfactorily as a whole to this point but most have begun to lose effectiveness. If immature thrips are present following soil applied insecticides or seed treatments then the treatment has lost or is losing its effectiveness," he reported in the latest Upper Coast Crop Improvement Newsletter.

A random check up and down the coast indicates most all farmers are pleased with the recent rains but agree that more will be needed in the weeks ahead after such a slow start to the spring season.


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