Kerry Siders, Texas AgriLife Extension Integrated Pest Management specialist for Hockley and Cochran counties on the High Plains, says the insect problems for cotton this season have been very light—just a few fleahoppers and Lygus bugs early on. He would watch for bollworms—especially in August—but as of late July it had been a fairly normal bollworm year.
He actually is more concerned about weed invaders.
"Weeds seem to be the most dominate 'pest' at this time," Siders reports. "A long varied list of weed species noted throughout both counties."
He hasn't thrown in the towel.
"As long as the water holds up or we receive some good measurable precipitation, I will remain optimistic," Siders says.
The prolonged drought situation has given some crops a chance to strut their stuff.
Sesame is one.
It got high marks at the 2012 Stiles Farm Field Day this summer.
"This is the first time since I've been farm manager at the Stiles Farm we've had sesame, and it's got a lot of potential for Blacklands farmers," says Archie Abrameit, Texas AgriLife Extension farm manager.
Its formidable drought tolerance has made sesame a standout among crops. And it can be planted well into July—for example, after failed cotton—if needed.
Charles Stichler, a retired AgriLife Extension agronomist and now an independent consultant at Knippa, has spent much of his career working with sesame production in Texas. He notes the Sesaco Corp. line of sesame at the Stiles Farm was thriving even as some corn and other crops were showing real moisture stress due to the lack of rain.
"At the Luling Foundation (east of San Antonio), everything else was dead last year during the drought, but the sesame was alive and well," Stichler says.
Sorghum is another crop having a chance to show its advantages.
Texas grain sorghum plantings are up by about 750,000 acres this year over last.