There's just been no generality in rainfall this season in Texas cotton production. One cotton field gets drenched, while a neighbor gets nothing. Rainfall has been extremely isolated this growing season.
Dane Higgins, an Americot Inc. representative, says in the Southwest, the area from Lamesa on south is ranging from adequate moisture to extremely dry going into August.
"We have been seeing blooms for about three weeks in the earliest planted fields, ranging to fields just now starting to bloom," Higgins reports. "As the crop starts to bloom, and especially as the crop approaches peak bloom (90 to 100 days after planting), the need for moisture will be the highest and most critical. Growers with adequate to better irrigation have seen the need to apply at least one shot of plant growth regulator to manage growth, and some fields are receiving their second shot now."
As cotton growers move through the season, scouting for insects is changing from early season pests like thrips to the need now in later season to watch for bollworms, armyworms, and budworms (in non-Bollgard cotton), aphids, stink bugs, lygus bugs, and spider mites.
Much of Texas has seen an especially bad outbreak of grasshoppers this year, brought on largely by drought conditions in the state.
"We have seen high enough numbers of grasshoppers to warrant spraying," Higgins says. "Additionally, if you know that you have a problem with nematodes, add some Vydate; this will not only give you some help with nematodes, but will give you some activity on plant bugs and fleahoppers as well."
Higgins also suggests scouting for cotton diseases such as verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt at this time of season when the diseases typically show up.
In the Triangle Area from Lubbock north to Muleshoe and Hereford, water availability is making all the difference.
"Irrigated crops are looking very good at this time," reports Gary Sanders, another Americot representative in the Lubbock region.
Sanders says as cotton continues blooming and setting bolls, it will use more than two inches of water per week to stay in good condition.
Meanwhile, dryland cotton is a mixed bag from fair to poor, he reports.