Agriculture production in the Rio Grande Valley generally starts early and ends late, in some cases providing year round farming opportunities because of mild winters that extend the growing season.

In spite of a slow start to spring planting, most farmers in the lower Valley have seeded or are in the process of seeding their fields with early mixed reports.

“Prior to now, very little cotton has been planted, but we are starting to see more cotton being planted this third week of March. Some cotton that was planted three weeks ago is already at two to three true leaf stage and some planted two weeks ago has the cotyledon seedlings at about two inches tall,” reports John Norman, editor of The Row Crops IPM Newsletter for the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV).

Norman says reports for the newsletter are gathered from producers all across the Valley with the help and contributions of Valley IPM Extension agent Danielle Sekula.

The Valley is in about the same place they were this time last year with some measurable rain in January but mostly dry conditions since then. But Norman says steady winds have been the real culprit so far.

“Wind speeds have been averaging out daily at 12 mph with 40 mph winds some days…soil moisture is pretty much gone,” he said.

As a result, wind damage is being reported on small cotton seedlings which are just now emerging and Norman says some reports indicate that some cotton is going to be replanted because the wind prevented it from getting a good stand after moisture dried up.

 

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Pest activity in cotton has been low throughout the Valley so far, an encouraging sign, but there have been reports of low populations of cotton aphids over the last two weeks.  Norman says as aphid populations grow, farmers will see a sticky sugary substance called honeydew, and eventually growers may start to see a black-colored fungus called sooty mold start to grow if populations are high.

“We are glad to see the orange eggs of the ladybug beetle under leaves and the newly emerged larvae feeding on immature aphids in cotton fields throughout the valley. Ladybug beetle larvae can consume hundreds of aphids a day while the adult can consume about 50 per day,” Norman said.