A cool, wet May has given way to a hot, dry June, and that’s just fine with cotton growers who, as late as the last week of May, were seeing acres too wet to plant. Now the threat is a rapid drying out that could make it difficult to have sufficient moisture to get the newly planted crop out of the ground.
Overall, however, Rex Friesen with the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers Association, says he is feeling “quite optimistic” about the 2020 cotton crop after the completion of planting the first week of June.
“The drawn-out planting dates this season, with some as early as late April and some as late as the first week of June, should mean a drawn-out harvest, which can be beneficial for custom harvesters and for the work at the gins,” Friesen says.
Now that much of the crop is up and growing, it’s time to start scouting for pests, especially early-season thrips, which could be a particular threat this year to early-planted cotton which is up and growing before the wheat crop has dried down. Thrips love wheat and flourish in wheat fields until that crop reaches maturity, then they move rapidly into cotton fields as the wheat dries down.
“They can literally blow in overnight if it’s windy,” Friesen says. “You can go from not seeing any to having a huge population in a very short time.”
The smaller the cotton plant the more the damage. Treatment threshold is typically one thrip per true leaf. The crop is at its most vulnerable as a seedling, he said, from emergence to about two true leaves.
Friesen says that grasshoppers and cutworms generally do not cause enough damage to the emerging cotton crop. The same goes for aphids, he says, which are generally removed by beneficial insects.