Weeds, insects and more rain are beginning to apply pressure to area farmers, but all agree this is a welcome change from the 2006 drought.

J. C. Banks, Oklahoma State University Extension state cotton specialist, has this to say: “The good moisture and moderate weather this spring have combined to cause an explosion of weeds in the recently planted cotton. Recent weather conditions have favored the weeds over the crop, and weed growth can get out of hand before we realize we have a problem.

“Most cotton in Oklahoma is either a Roundup Ready or Roundup Ready Flex variety and our natural tendency is to spray as late as we can to avoid spraying Roundup twice,” Banks says. “We need to realize as weeds get larger, they become more difficult to control with a glyphosate herbicide.

“When the weeds get stressed later in the season, they become even more difficult to control. Weed control researchers across the cotton belt, including Don Murray, Oklahoma State University, have determined the most critical time for weed control in cotton is during the first five to six weeks following planting. Cotton yield is most adversely affected if weeds are allowed to grow during this period.

“Hopefully, a pre-emergence herbicide was used prior to planting, but if not, an early application of Roundup to small weeds is a good insurance policy to avoid yield-robbing weed control weed problems later in the season”

In the Texas Rolling Plains, Todd Baughman, Extension agronomist and state peanut specialist at Vernon, Texas, says planting has been delayed. “Rain continues to hamper cotton planting to some degree,” he says. “Isolated showers have slowed or stopped planting in areas. However, planters are rolling hard throughout the Northern Rolling Plains. Ground is staying cooler than normal for this time of year, but we have not had any reports of emergence problems or stand establishment issues.

“Most peanut growers are trying to wrap up planting as well. Moisture has hampered wheat harvest—in most cases, just enough rain or humidity to make straw tough and thrashing impossible. I’ve heard reports of a few test strips cut, but little else. Wheat is maturing very slowly due to cool temperatures.

“Reports have come in of some armyworms eating the awns on wheat but in more mature wheat that damage is minimal (no reports of them clipping the wheat heads at this time).

“We also see corn and sorghum looking good so far.”

In the southern Texas rolling plains, Billy Warrick, Extension agronomist, San Angelo, says: “Many areas have adequate soil moisture and temperatures to plant cotton. Expect increased field activity as planting conditions improve. Several acres will require a burndown application of herbicide to control small weeds that are actively growing.

“The wheat is drying down and it is about three weeks away from harvest. The extent of the early-April freeze damage is easier to determine and wheat yields have been reduced by 20 to 50 percent on the earlier-maturing varieties.”

Southern rolling plains cotton planting has started, according to Chris Sansone, Extension entomologist at San Angelo.

“Some fields are still too wet and scattered showers are still in the area, but it is easy to find planters in the field. Most of the small grains are still green and the roadsides are still providing alternative hosts so no insect problems have been seen as of this date.”

TALKIN’ COTTON is a feature of NTOK Cotton, a cotton industry partnership, which encourages increased cotton production in the Rolling Plains of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. For more information on the cotton scene, check out okiecotton.org and ntokcotton.org.