Round and rectangular cotton bales are stacking up at cotton gins in the Rio Grande Valley this week as cotton harvest has reached the half-way mark in Deep South Texas. In the Coastal Bend, many growers are plowing up heat-stressed cotton fields and preparing crop insurance forms as a result of heat and a lack of substantial rainfall.

Also of concern is cotton in the Mid and Upper Coast regions where heavy rains in July set harvest schedules back and is causing numerous problems related to exceptionally wet fields, including pest pressure.

John Norman, editor of the Valley’s Pest Cast Newsletter, is reporting cotton in South Texas is either being harvested or reaching final maturity. Most cotton fields are defoliated while others will require at least two more weeks before harvest can begin.

Whiteflies were unrelenting in their migration last week. Fields which had been sprayed for whiteflies as late as July 13 were, in some situations, covered with adults and immatures this week. However, there were a few late maturing fields in which there were few whiteflies even at this late date,” Norman reported July 27.

He says plans for managing immature fields well into August must include whitefly management.

Heavy concentrations of whiteflies are reported in fields along the Rio Grande River and in many irrigated fields. He says growers in those areas report increased production costs associated with whitefly control and management in recent weeks.

“Unlike years like 1991 when the Valley first experienced whiteflies at damaging levels by mid-May in a triangle from San Benito in Cameron County to west of Mission in Hidalgo County and all the way north to Raymondville in Willacy County, the Valley’s experience this year was limited in both area and time of severely damaging whitefly numbers,” he added.

But late maturing fields will take the brunt of large numbers of pests such as whiteflies, which can be devastating to late cotton he says.  No other pests at harmful numbers were reported in fields last week.

Preliminary cotton yields in dryland fields were reported from just under a bale to nearly two bales per acre. There were still large numbers of dryland fields to be picked, but early yields looked pretty good ranging from near two bales to 3.25 bales per acre.