It didn't take long for the hot, dry weather of a normal summer to replace the Great Flood of 2011.
Temperatures in the Mid-South last week were at- or near-100 degrees Fahrenheit and irrigation rigs were running.
In cotton, pigweed and thrips pressure was picking up.
"We've planted almost all the cotton that we will plant. Some is going in behind wheat, plus some seep fields are probably being planted," says Tom Barber, University of Arkansas Extension cotton specialist in Ag Fax. "The good news is that the price keeps going up, so you can't fault anybody for planting late.
"We're fighting weeds and have pigweed coming up on beds," Barber says. "We know they're resistant, so growers are facing some challenging situations after a season that keeps throwing challenges at them. Some of the cotton sandblasted by wind storms last week has kind of turned the corner. We've got a decent chance of rain this weekend, which everybody hopes we'll get. Some people already are rolling out pipe, and others will be if it doesn't rain. We're going to be running out of moisture soon, so we'll have to push this crop in the absence of rain, if for no other reason than to get nitrogen into soil solution so it can be taken up.
"Last year it never rained in June, and we couldn't get N activated then. The only difference between last year and this year is that the 2011 crop is further behind. We saw our first blooms last year on June 17," Barber says. "We'll be lucky to see blooms on the Fourth of July this year on some of that early cotton that survived – but there's very, very little of that."
In Louisiana, John Kruse, Louisiana Extension cotton/corn specialist says water is the issue also:
"The need for rain is becoming the bottom line for both corn and cotton. Water is the issue," Kruse says. "Cotton is just starting to bloom in a few locations. I'm afraid that a lot of this cotton is probably sitting on a shallow root system and is under considerable stress and not progressing like it normally would. We're seeing some micronutrient deficiency in cotton in the Red River Valley, probably iron deficiency, and it's quite likely tied to dry conditions. With rain, it will clear up quickly and may not affect yields, but what is affecting yield is this drought."
In Mississippi, Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension entomologist, says: "With this heat, cotton is growing better, but Mississippi generally needs rain. A few thrips are still being sprayed, but a lot of cotton is growing past them now that the weather has turned hotter. We don't have a lot of cotton squaring, but we are getting calls about some pretty good plant bug numbers. In some cases, one application already has been made and the numbers were up again 4 to 5 days later, so we're dealing with migrating adults. It's going to be critical to monitor square retention because that's a better indicator about how well insecticides are doing. You might think you had a treatment failure if numbers are up again a few days later when, in fact, you've simply had a new infestation. Square retention gives you a better idea about whether the treatments were effective.