Cotton farming june 2018

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JUNE 2018

Nominations Open For 2018 CCOY My Turn: Gus Lorenz

The Bugs Of Summer They’re Here. Time To Get Your Game On


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Cotton Farming We succeed when you succeed. Our team of industry veterans works tirelessly to bring our readers the most up-to-date information straight from the fields. With a combined 146 years’ cotton experience, you can count on us at Cotton Farming to continue to provide profitable production strategies for your operation.

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Vol. 62 No. 6


JUNE 2018



‘LIFE IS UNCOMFORTABLE’ Cotton Incorporated launches a multi-platform advertising campaign to drive engagement with a younger consumer audience.





A North Carolina State University entomologist explains how farmers and scientists worked together to save cotton in the South.


Kelley Green, TCGA director of technical services, tells how to stay in compliance with the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.

12 Bugs Of Summer Cotton insects come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing they have in common is a voracious appetite for the cotton plant. As we move into the season, it’s hard to predict exactly which insects will show up and how high the populations will be. However, everyone knows they are out there. A good defense begins with diligent scouting and making sure you have a plan in place to deal with them.


4 Editor’s Note 8 Industry News 5 Cotton’s Agenda 16 Specialists Speaking 6 Marketing & Promotion 22 My Turn ON THE COVER: A large bollworm larvae feeds on a cotton square. The small insect is a cotton aphid. Cover photo courtesy of the University of Tennessee.

WEB EXCLUSIVE Georgia cotton farmers hope to rebound from 2017 when they experienced a surprise attack by silver whiteflies and damaging winds and rain from Hurricane Irma. Georgia’s average cotton yield was 863 pounds per acre last year, significantly below the state record of 1,091 pounds per acre set in 2012. Go to for this Web Exclusive report.

The fourth annual Transform My Community Contest — June 1 through July 31 — is now open to eligible cotton farmers and consultants. Go to to access the contest entry form.

CCOY NOMINATIONS OPEN To nominate a deserving candidate for the Cotton Consultant of the Year Award (co-sponsored by Cotton Farming and Syngenta), fill out the form on Page 9 or online at Deadline for nominations is July 31.

Cotton C of the Yeonsultant ar 2018 NOMINAT

ION FOR The Cotton M If you would Consultant (CCOY) represe of the like to nomin nts the consulta Year recogn who has ition, please ate a consu nt made take a mome ltant deserv to the cotton great contributions ing of this Please use nt to fill industry a separat outstanding out the through outstanding recomm e page for following endations customer biograp form. via letters relations, leadership members or emails hical/profession and innovati al are also on. Recognized encoura from other farmers information. Additio ged to provide , consult nal Consultan of the cotton by fellow membe ants and support t’s Name: rs industry for the nomine industry, this award is given to Company e. Name: the consulta only meets nt Mailing Address: these requiremwho not also exceeds ents but City: them. Syngenta Phone: and Cotton State: magazine Farming — CCOY sponsors Email: In your own soliciting Zip: — are words, please your of the Year” tell us why 2018 recipien help in selecting Award. Additiona you are nominatin the t, who will l pages may Backgrou at a special be named be attached, g the consultant nd: celebration above for emailed or the “Cotton March 1, Friday, attached 2019, Consultan to the online t nominatio Hotel in Memph at the Peabody n form. is, Tenn. The winning person who consultant and the nominates receive a the winner two night hotel stay airfare to and Memphis. The 2018 recipient CCOY also will be featured four-page in a salute issue of Cotton in the March 2019 Farming.

Submit by July nominations 31, 2018 .

Mail: Carroll 7201 Eastern Smith Ave. Germant own, TN 38138 Scan/Em ail: You can print csmith@onegrow out an electronic the form located on version of the Web site at Cotton Farming ttonfarm Nominat e online: cottonfa m/ccoy

Biograph attached

ical/Indu stry Involvem ent Backgrou to this form, nd. This emailed or information attached as well as to the online support nominatio letters may n form. be

Your Name: Mailing Address: City: Phone:

State: Email:

Sponso red by


Cotton Farming

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Editor’s Note

Cotton Farming

Carroll Smith

EDITORIAL/PRODUCTION Editor Carroll Smith Managing Editor Vicky Boyd

Bugs Back In The Day: Fiends In The Field


ome memories, along with photographs I have seen from the past, are as horrifying as a clip from the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” But instead of birds, I’m talking about bugs. More specifically, relentless cotton insects. A book titled The Boll Weevil: How To Prosper in Boll Weevil Territory, authored by G. H. Alford in 1916, contains a black and white photo of a field of late cotton. The caption is: “The late cotton is for weevil — not for the farmer. The boll weevil prevented the above late cotton from making a single boll.” Another photo shows multiple weevils attacking a cotton boll. The crater-like holes are hard to look at. A colorful stock photo found on Google Images shows a garish, fluorescent yellow-green pheromone trap literally covered with boll weevils from top to bottom and even down the stake holding it firmly in the tunrow next to a cotton field. This small, grayish-brown insect ate its way across the South for decades before being declared eradicated in 2009. It was even immortalized in songs by numerous musicians through the years. Although he was an infamous celebrity portrayed as “looking for a home,” the boll weevil was never a welcome visitor in cotton country. Another horror story involved the beet armyworm infestation in Alabama in 1988. Auburn University entomologist Ron Smith reported that the period from “April through June 1988 was the driest on record in Alabama. The first outbreaks of beet armyworms were in fields of sandy soils where the plants were showing the greatest moisture stress.” Although the infestation let up slightly in early July, another batch of eggs was laid about mid-month. To add insult to injury, there were no effective insecticides to control the pest. Smith says, “It was during this period (July 12-30) that population levels of over 25 caterpillars per row foot went uncontrolled through their larval cycle in many fields, causing damage to 100 percent of the squares and blooms.” Anecdotal accounts spread like wildfire through coffee shops describing millions of worms marching across the highway and getting smushed under vehicle tires while trying to get from one cotton field to the next. Insects can still wreak havoc on today’s cotton fields, but our insecticide and trait toolbox is much heftier than those farmers once had access to. Manage them carefully and make timely applications to avoid a re-run of past disasters created by Mother Nature’s malicious minions.

Carroll If you have comments, please send them to: Cotton Farming Magazine, 7201 Eastern Ave., Germantown, TN, 38138. Contact Carroll Smith via email at



Southeast Editor Amanda Huber Art Director Ashley Kumpe ADMINISTRATION Publisher/Vice President Lia Guthrie (901) 497-3689 Associate Publisher Carroll Smith (901) 326-4443 Sales Manager Scott Emerson (386) 462-1532 Production Manager Kathy Killingsworth (901) 767-4020 Circulation Manager Charlie Beek (847) 559-7324 For circulation changes or change of address, call (847) 559-7578 EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD David Burns – North Carolina David Lynch – South Carolina Bob McLendon – Georgia Larkin Martin – Alabama Mike Sturdivant Jr. – Mississippi Charles Parker – Missouri Jimmy Hargett – Tennessee Allen Helms – Arkansas Jay Hardwick – Louisiana Ronnie Hopper – Texas Ron Rayner – Arizona John Pucheu – California

ONE GROWER PUBLISHING, LLC Mike Lamensdorf President/Treasurer Lia Guthrie Publisher/Vice President ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COOPERATION: Cooperating with  COTTON FARMING are various cotton producer organizations across the Cotton Belt. Many representatives of producer organizations serve on COTTON  FARMING’s editorial advisory board. Opinions expressed and conclusions reached by contributors are not necessarily those of the cooperating organizations or the editors. All statements, including product claims, are those of the person or organization making the statement or claim. The publisher does not adopt any such statement or claims as its own and any such statement or claim does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher. Copyright 2018 © ASSOCIATED PUBLICATIONS – One Grower Publishing, LLC also publishes RICE FARMING, THE PEANUT GROWER, SOYBEAN SOUTH and CORN SOUTH.

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Cotton’s Agenda Gary Adams

Tackling Cotton’s Priorities The National Cotton Council identified multiple priorities it must address to continue effectively representing the U.S. cotton industry on legislative and regulatory issues.

What are some key priorities? n A major concern is ensuring an effective safety net for cotton producers is contained in the next farm law. As this column was being submitted, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (the new farm law) was under consideration by the House. Getting that legislation signed into law is an extremely important step for providing much-needed stability to the U.S. cotton industry. Fortunately, the Act that was being voted on at press time was void of damaging amendments that would have compromised crop insurance and imposed stricter payment limits and eligibility provisions. What it did contain (which I wrote about in last month’s column) was NCC-developed policy that designates seed cotton as a covered commodity eligible for the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage programs. That designation was placed in Title I of the 2014 farm law beginning with the 2018 crop year. A key NCC priority is working for trade policies vital to the exports of U.S. cotton and textile products and protecting existing beneficial trade agreements. In the appropriations arena, the NCC is working to maintain funding for boll weevil/pink bollworm eradication while coordinating an implementation strategy that will enhance boll weevil eradication efforts in Mexico and coordinating the implementation of a plan for pink bollworm eradication transition to post-eradication status. Another priority will be to maintain full support for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program, as Cotton Council International con-

One of the NCC’s main priorities is getting farm legislation through Congress and signed into law.

tinues to be the largest recipient of these marketing and promotion funds. In addition, the NCC will continue to seek adequate funding for all USDA Agricultural Research Service cotton research, including efforts at the three ginning laboratories.

What about regulatory concerns? n Several priorities involve close coordination with EPA on regulatory matters. The NCC is working with the agency, states and stakeholders to maintain the cotton registration/label for in-season use of labeled dicamba herbicides beyond 2018 and 2,4-D herbicides beyond 2021. We participated in a successful lawsuit to prevent more stringent EPA regulation of treated seeds (including neonicotinoid seed treatments) as proposed by some environmental groups and beekeepers. However, we continue to work with EPA to encourage revisions to its pollinator risk assessment while opposing inequitable label restrictions on crop protection products relative to pollinator protection — with specific emphasis on maintaining neonicotinoid chemistries availability. Although EPA granted Section 18 requests for emergency use exemptions for sulfoxaflor (Transform) in multiple states for 2018, the NCC will seek these exemptions each year for as long as cotton is omitted from the product’s Section 3 label. We will continue engaging EPA and Congress to prevent the loss of key organophosphate crop protection products such as chlorpyrifos, Bidrin, malathion and Def through the reregistration process and lawsuits. We also will engage EPA on a rewrite of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and work with the Food and Drug Administration, Congress, and state and regional gin associations to eliminate the requirements for cotton gins to comply with the new animal feed safety regulations. More information about NCC priorities and recent achievements is at issues/2018/achpri.cfm.

Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page. Twitter: @CottonFarming




‘Life Is Uncomfortable’ Cotton Incorporated Launches New Consumer Advertising Campaign BY STACEY GORMAN COTTON BOARD DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS


art of Cotton Incorporated’s mission is to promote all things cotton. It is the organization’s desire to get consumers, everyday people, to care about what’s in the clothes, sheets and towels they buy. Because of years of research, Cotton Incorporated knows the benefits of cotton and is working hard to educate consumers about why cotton is “The Fabric of Our Lives.” One of the most effective ways is through consumer advertising campaigns. The original “Fabric of Our Lives” advertising campaign was launched in 1989 with a sentimental appeal reflecting cotton’s subtle and emotional impact on our lives. With rich vocals by singer Richie Havens and graphic images of special events and heartwarming personal interactions, the ads built strong fiber awareness in the target audience that was making and developing lifelong buying trends.

Cotton Message Evolution Just as advertising has continued to evolve over the years, so have Cotton Incorporated’s consumer messaging and advertising tactics. Today, companies must be able to find cost-effective programming (TV, digital, etc.) that can reach a large percentage of the target audience at a time when consumer viewing habits are changing rapidly. They also must develop a message that can be impactful over a wide array of media platforms. In April, Cotton Incorporated’s Consumer Marketing Division launched a new advertising campaign, “Life is Uncomfortable,” which drives consumer awareness for cotton on television and online. The new campaign uses awkward humor combined with uncomfortable situations to contemporize cotton, create relevancy and drive engagement with a younger consumer audience. “This advertising campaign was developed based on the results of consumer research, focus group insights and reviews of our previous campaign’s successes,” says Jill Orsini, Cotton Incorporated’s director of advertising. “In the Life is Uncomfortable series we continue to promote cotton’s emotional and physical role in an increasingly uncomfortable world. We are, in essence, telling consumers: Cotton has your back. No matter what life throws your way, you’ll always be comfortable in cotton.” The first commercial, “Dating Can Feel Uncomfortable,” launched on television and online April 23, and aired on ABC during “American Idol.” The other three commercials launched digitally on May 7. Three of the videos specifically target women and one



The latest campaign touts the ease-of-care, naturalness and durability of cotton to a younger consumer audience. speaks directly to men. Beyond television, the videos are running on websites, such as Refinery29, PopSugar, Men’s Health and Women’s Health. The videos are clickable and drive consumers to shop for cotton apparel on www. Cotton Board Chairman and Louisiana cotton producer George LaCour Jr. is pleased with the new consumer campaign. “I’m thrilled that Cotton Incorporated continues to push the envelope and develop refreshed, relevant content for today’s consumers. We rely on their expertise to keep cotton top of mind for consumers, and I believe these new commercials will help accomplish that goal,” he says. Multiple Media Platforms All four new videos leverage cotton’s comfort as a key benefit and reinforce the message that cotton is the fabric of our lives. Other cotton benefits like ease of care, naturalness and durability will be communicated through other advertising tactics, including web banner ads, social media, blog posts and custom content through media partnerships. “All components of the campaign communicate a clear message to consumers: no matter what uncomfortable situation life throws your way, cotton can bring you comfort,” Orsini says. To view the commercials, please visit: com/CottonFabricOfMyLife.  To learn more, please email Gorman at sgorman@cotton COTTONFARMING.COM

Cotton Consultant’s Corner

Stay Vigilant Against Plant Bugs, Bollworm Ashley Peters Peters Crop Consulting Crowville, Louisiana Growing up in Franklin Parish, Louisiana, I worked on my dad’s farm where he predominately grew cotton for many years. One of my first jobs outside the family operation was helping a local consultant scout cotton. In 2010, I ventured out on my own to form Peters Crop Consulting. This year, most of my farmers had all their cotton in by the third week in May with 90 percent up to a stand. We treated some fields for thrips, depending on whether an in-furrow insecticide was applied and what seed treatment was used. Most farmers mixed a foliar insecticide with their herbicide application to control this pest. Once the plant gets three leaves on it and the temperatures rise, cotton begins outgrowing any thrips issues.

Scout Early For Plant Bugs

We typically start looking for plant bugs before the cotton starts putting on small squares. It’s a good idea to locate where this pest is, how long it has been there and how bad it is before the cotton begins fruiting. In the early fruiting stage, we are definitely looking at hot spots and the places we normally find plant bugs. In addition to several crops being farmed in our area, we also have CRP and WRP land planted in trees or natural vegetation. Plant bugs can survive here while they are waiting for the cotton or other crops to start growing. This diversified scenario definitely plays a role in the amount of plant bugs we see each year. If we don’t stay on top of them at threshold levels, they can reach high numbers in a short period of time and knock a lot of fruit off the plant, which negatively affects yield. We’ve used Transform WG insecticide to control plant bugs since it was first released. It’s economical and easy on beneficials so we don’t have to worry about flaring secondary pests like spider mites. To rotate chemistries, we may apply an imidacloprid on our first shot and then go to Transform at a rate of an ounce and a half per acre. Sometimes we put out back-to-back shots of Transform, which typically carries us for multiple weeks. We also had early worm pressure last year and had to treat all our dual-gene cotton at least once for bollworms. Where pressure persisted, a second application was warranted on some acres. Bollworms, along with plant bugs, were probably our biggest battle in 2017. I believe the worms will show up again this year, and plant bugs are always there. In addition to scouting for insects, we have to look for foliar disease in cotton. We saw a lot of target spot last year. So this year, as always, we have to control insects, weeds and disease and hopefully get timely rains to make a respectable yield. How much we put into the crop will determine what we get out of it in the end.

• B.S., agronomy, minor in ag business; M.S., entomology, Louisiana State University • Consults on cotton, rice, sweet potatoes, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum and wheat. Offers soil sampling services • Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association past president • Member of the Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association and Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association • LSU AgCenter Agricultural Leadership Development Program graduate and board member • Tensas Basin Levee District commissioner • Northeast Soil & Water Conservation District board member • LSU College of Agriculture Alumni Association board member • Married to wife, Amy. Two sons: Nathan, 8, and Caleb, 3 • Coaches soccer, basketball and Little League baseball. Enjoys hunting, fishing, gardening, following LSU sports and being outside with the family

Recap: Control Plant Bugs, Bollworm


1. We typically start looking for plant bugs before the cotton starts putting on small squares. 2. Plant bugs can reach high numbers in a short period of time and knock a lot of fruit off the cotton plant, which negatively affects yield. 3. We’ve used Transform WG insecticide to control plant bugs since it was first released. It’s economical and easy on beneficials so we don’t have to worry about flaring secondary pests like spider mites. Sometimes we put out back-to-back shots of Transform, which can carry us for multiple weeks. 4. Along with plant bugs, we fought bollworms in 2017, and I believe the worms will show up again this year.

Sponsored by

® DOW Diamond, Isoclast and Transform are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (“DuPont”) or affiliated companies of ® DOW Diamond, Clincher, Grandstand and Granite are trademarks The DowTransform Chemicalhas Company or anEmergency Exemptions for use on cotton in select states. Dow or DuPont. Transform WG is not registered by U.S. EPA for sale or useofon cotton. Section(“Dow”) 18 Specific affiliated company of Dow. Clincher CA, Clincher SF, Grandstand CA,cotton-producing Grandstand R, Granite GR be and GraniteToSC aremore about Transform, to see which states or political Applications for Section 18 Specific Emergency Exemptions in additional states may pending. learn not registered for sale use in 18 all states. yourExemptions, state pesticide agency to determine if a product subdivisions thereof haveorSection SpecificContact Emergency to seeregulatory the limitations on the use of Transform under the Section 18 Specific Emergency Exemption labels, is registered for or use yourcarry state. Always read anda follow label directions. ©2017 call Dow800-258-3033 AgroSciencesor LLC and to find a list ofsale retailers thatinmay this product under particular Section 18 exemption, email ©2018 Dow AgroSciences LLC

Industry News Enter The Transform My Community Contest For A Chance To Win $20,000 Attention hometown heroes! Tell us how Transform WG insecticide has transformed your cotton fields and how $20,000 could improve your community. The fourth annual Transform My Community Contest begins June 1 and is open to consultants and growers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and select counties in Alabama. The contest is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and Cotton Farming magazine. On the entry form, tell how Transform has helped protect your cotton yield from plant bugs and how your favorite organization or charity (local FFA chapter, food bank, library, etc.) is working to help transform your community. Your idea could win $20,000 for your community and a $1,000 cash prize for you. In 2015, grand prize winner A.J. Hood, who farms near Monticello, Arkansas, helped fund construction of a baseball field and playground designed especially for kids with disabilities. Dow AgroSciences donated $20,000 to the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse on behalf of Tennessee cotton consultant Larry Kimery in 2016. This money allowed the center to hire a full-time family advocate who works directly with children, who have been victims of child abuse, and their families. Last year, grand prize winner Gary Dyksterhouse, who farms near Greenwood, Mississippi, submitted an entry on behalf of Delta Streets Academy. Dow AgroSciences donated $20,000 to help the school’s dedicated staff mold and equip the young men who walk through the doors realize their dreams despite the challenging conditions in which they live. The deadline for submitting your short essay is July 31. Visit www. transformmycommunity to access the TMC entry form.

Deltapine NPE Program Kicks Off Class Of 19 In Key Regions The Deltapine New Product Eval-



Beth (from left) and Max Koepnick of Koepnick Family Farms are accompanied by Bayer agronomy production manager, Tony Salcido.

Brian (from left) and Brady Nelson of Nelson Bros. Farms are joined by Bayer regional sales representative, Casey Hoelting.

Growers Overcome Challenges To Make One Ton Club Despite challenging weather in many production regions in 2017, 188 producers still qualified for the FiberMax One Ton Club, which recognizes growers who harvested 2,000 pounds of lint on irrigated ground using FiberMax varieties. Altogether during the program’s 13-year history, Bayer CropScience has honored 1,086 cotton growers for the feat. Bayer also recognized a handful of growers who had leading qualifying factors. Brian and Brady Nelson, Nelson Bros. Farms, of Nazareth, Texas, had the most qualifying FiberMax acres with 540. Max and Beth Koepnick, Koepnick Family Farms, of San Tan Valley, Arizona, had the top yield of 2,910 pounds per acre with a gross value of $1,590.11 per acre. Larry Hancock, LKH Farming, of Ehrenburg, Arizona, had the top loan value of 55.44 cents per pound. And three operations tied for having the most FiberMax varieties on their qualifying acres. They were Steven and Richard Archer of Lamesa, Texas; Russ and Bo Eggemeyer of Midkiff, Texas; and Kornelius Enns of Ackerly, Texas.

uator Program kicks off its 11th season focused on enhancing performance in key regions, broadening the availability of Bollgard 3 XtendFlex cotton and raising the bar for yield and quality potential across maturity groups. “This class has several strong commercial candidates that have exceptional Beltwide adaptation, and the class addresses very specific needs, particularly for the northern Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and Kansas markets,” says Keylon Gholston, Deltapine Product Manager. NPE growers participating in 2018 will plant Class of 19 variety candidates on large-acre plots. The plots will be managed accordingly to each grower’s practices, consist of irrigated and nonirrigated fields, various soil types and be subjected to local environmental conditions. Feedback from the NPE growers helps determine which candidates to commercialize and how to posi-

tion those new Deltapine varieties on farms in different regions with various management programs.

Drift Reduction Agent Launched For Dicamba-Based Herbicides Precision Laboratories introduces Intact Advanced for the 2018 crop season to help with on-target application. It is approved for tankmixing with XtendiMax with Vaporgrip Technology and Engenia herbicides. Intact Advanced is the next generation of proven plant-based polymer technology. It enhances drift control while conditioning hard water without the use of AMS for a wide range of crop protection products. This technology helps ensure more droplets are retained on the target leaf surface for improved coverage, uptake and herbicide performance. Visit for more information. COTTONFARMING.COM

Cotton Consultant of the Year 2018 NOMINATION FORM

The Cotton Consultant of the Year (CCOY) represents the consultant who has made great contributions to the cotton industry through outstanding customer relations, leadership and innovation. Recognized by fellow members of the cotton industry, this award is given to the consultant who not only meets these requirements but also exceeds them. Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine — CCOY sponsors — are soliciting your help in selecting the 2018 recipient, who will be named at a special celebration Friday, March 1, 2019, at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. The winning consultant and the person who nominates the winner receive a two night hotel stay and airfare to Memphis. The 2018 CCOY recipient also will be featured in a four-page salute in the March 2019 issue of Cotton Farming.

Submit nominations by July 31, 2018. Mail: Carroll Smith 7201 Eastern Ave. Germantown, TN 38138 Scan/Email: You can print out an electronic version of the form located on the Cotton Farming Web site at Nominate online:

If you would like to nominate a consultant deserving of this outstanding recognition, please take a moment to fill out the following form. Please use a separate page for biographical/professional information. Additional recommendations via letters or emails from other farmers, consultants and industry members are also encouraged to provide support for the nominee. Consultant’s Name: Company Name: Mailing Address: City:




In your own words, please tell us why you are nominating the consultant above for the “Cotton Consultant of the Year” Award. Additional pages may be attached, emailed or attached to the online nomination form. Background:

Biographical/Industry Involvement Background. This information as well as support letters may be attached to this form, emailed or attached to the online nomination form.

Your Name: Mailing Address: City:




Sponsored by Twitter: @CottonFarming



Cotton Farming JUNE 2018 COTTON FARMING



After a collaborative effort between farmers and scientists that cost millions of dollars, the boll weevil was declared eradicated in all U.S. cotton-producing states except Texas in 2009.

The Boll Weevil War Farmers And Scientists Save Cotton In The South BY DOMINIC REISIG NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY


he boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) is not much to look at — just a grayish, little beetle with an impressively long snout. But this particular beetle, and its hunger for cotton, was powerful enough to forge an unprecedented partnership among farmers, legislators and scientists. And that partnership showed how much can be accomplished when scientists and farmers work together. What adult boll weevils lack in size they make up for with their larvae’s ability to feed on and destroy cotton. Boll weevils entered the United States from Mexico in the late 1800s, when they were first spotted in Texas. By the 1920s they had spread through all of the major cottonproducing areas in the country. The scope of the damage was breathtaking, as were the control efforts thrown at this insect. At one time, one-third of the insecticide used in



the United States was used to combat boll weevils. In 1903, the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture testified before Congress that the insect’s outbreaks were a “wave of evil,” and that afflicted areas in Mexico had abandoned cotton production altogether. Indeed, many scholars agree that the impact was so great on the rural South’s cotton-dependent economy that it was one of the causes of the “Great Migration,” when African Americans moved en masse to the northern United States during the early 1900s. Despite the arrival of the boll weevil, cotton production at first actually increased in the United States because the price of cotton increased as the boll weevil ran some cotton growers out of business. Cotton production moved Continued on page 14 COTTONFARMING.COM

Americot Steps Up Research Efforts

2018 trials underway to assess variety performance, characteristics and traits in specific regions of the Cotton Belt


ver the past year, Americot has expanded its Research and Development team with the addition of four Research and Germplasm Specialists, supporting our plant breeders across the Cotton Belt. These new team members are administering research trials throughout their assigned regions, gathering data on commercial varieties, as well as pre-commercial varieties in the last stage of testing prior to commercial launch. “Our goal is to provide our sales teams and growers the exact information they need for each product, to maximize the potential of NexGen® varieties on their farms with data that comes from their growing regions. Water efficiency, seed treatments, PGR management, heat tolerance, seedling vigor and emergence are all focus areas included in the trials planted this year, enabling us to understand how to best manage our products in specific regions,” says Dr. Doug Jost, Director of Research and Cotton Germplasm. Americot continues to invest in the cotton industry, committed to supporting and bringing additional value to growers throughout the Cotton Belt.

SHANE HALFMANN Central & South Texas This year, I have 24 trial locations from Corpus Christi to Paris, Texas. Additionally, I’m looking at different PGR application rates and timing on commercial varieties. I’ve been really impressed with the emergence of NG 4777 B2XF, NG 3780 B2XF and NG 3729 B2XF. These new products for 2018 are showing really strong emergence during pretty poor planting conditions.

CODY JONES Kansas/Oklahoma & High Plains/Northern Plains, Texas I’m working 27 locations from just north of Lubbock, Texas, to

Altus, Oklahoma, up to Winfield, Kansas. Our soil temperatures were really good during planting, promoting good stands and emergence. We have some good very early-vigor ratings on our varieties, and NG 4777 B2XF has shown excellent vigor across the board. I also have two water efficiency trials in my area that should yield some very valuable data.

DOUG JOST South Plains/Rolling Plains, Texas I’m really excited about this year! I have 25 trials ranging from Salt Flats to Stamford to St. Lawrence to Lubbock, Texas. With the dry spell West Texas has been under, our water efficiency trials will provide a tremendous amount of value to the grower. In addition, we continue to focus on testing of vigorous varieties with the latest B3XF technology that lends to performance in our West Texas environments.

CHASE SAMPLES Mid-South This year I’m checking 24 trials across the Mid-South (Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama). I’m very excited about the locations that are solely dedicated to the experimental B3XF varieties as candidates for launch in 2019. We also have several early selection sites for the Breeding Team in the Mid-South that we’ll be monitoring, as well.

KAREN GELDMACHER Arizona I have several trials across Arizona focused on a few key factors: heat tolerance (including pollen sterility and cavitation), nematode seed treatment trials with the University of Arizona and advanced strains tests for the Breeding Team. So far, NG 3729 B2XF is an early season favorite in university trials across the state. I’m also impressed with the early-season vigor of NG 4792 XF in Central Arizona, where we had a cool, wet and windy April planting.

Sponsored by

© Americot, Inc - Americot®, the Boll Design, NexGen®, and The Next Generation of Cotton® are registered trademarks of Americot, Inc.



The Bugs


They’re Here. Get Your Game On. BY CARROLL SMITH EDITOR


otton insects come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing they have in common is a voracious appetite for the cotton plant. As we move into the season, it’s hard to predict exactly which insects will show up and how high the populations will be. However, everyone knows they are out there. A good defense begins with diligent scouting and making sure you have a plan in place to deal with them. Some of the usual suspects that concern cotton farmers this year are thrips, plant bugs and bollworms, particularly in two-gene cotton. Thrips And Plant Bugs In his Pest Patrol Alert report on May 24, Arkansas entomologist Gus Lorenz says thrips don’t seem to be too bad this year. “These are some of the mildest thrips infestations I’ve seen in a long time,” he says. “However, we have some fields in south Arkansas that are starting to square, and I am interested to see how bad the plant bugs are going to be. Based on our ditch bank surveys, they could be bad, but we will wait and see. Louisiana cotton consultant Ashley Peters says he starts scouting for plant bugs before the cotton starts putting on small squares. In the early fruiting stage, he definitely looks at hot spots and the places he normally finds plant bugs. “We use Transform WG insecticide to control plant bugs,” he says. “To rotate chemistries, we may apply an imidacloprid on our first shot and then go to Transform at a rate of an ounce and a half per acre. Sometimes we put out back-to-back shots of Transform, which typically carries us for multiple weeks.”




Auburn University’s Extension entomologist Ron Smith advises growers to not let plant bugs become embedded. “When this happens, multiple applications will be required to prevent economic damage,” he says. “An embedded situation is when a sub-threshold level has been allowed to go untreated for more than a generation. This results in a plant bug population of all ages and stages from adults, to all ages of immatures and eggs. “In Alabama, most adult plant bugs move from wild hosts to cotton by July 10, early bloom. Some of the more commonly used choices for an early bloom plant bug spray are Bidrin, Transform, Centric, or bifenthrin to control the adults.” Bollworms In Two-Gene Cotton In 2017, bollworms plagued many farmers in fields planted to two-gene cotton. In regard to the potential bollworm issue Smith says, “This situation may increase this year and in future years on two-gene cotton due to bollworm resistance to both genes. More varieties will be available with three genes in 2018, but supplies of many will be limited. Until the three-gene varieties are widely planted, we need to focus on closer scouting and better management of bollworms in the two-gene varieties.” The Alabama entomologist recommends monitoring cotton closely for corn earworms coming from corn. He says this historically has occurred about July 10-15 in south Alabama, July 20 in central Alabama, and about August 1-5 in north Alabama. The egg lay may last from seven to 10 days in any given location. “When this flight is detected by increased egg numbers or five to 10 one- to two-day-old larvae in white blooms, have your control plan ready and implement it within 24-48 hours,” Smith says. “We basically have two choices, a pyrethroid at the highest labelled rate, or one of the diamide selections: Prevathon 14-18 oz or Beseige (Karate + Prevathon) at 7-9 oz/ac. The pyrethroid will cost $2.00-$4.00/ac, the diamide class $14$18/ac. If the bollworm larvae are 5 or more days old, the diamide may be no more effective than a pyrethroid.” “Diamides are most effective when the residue is on the plant when the egg hatches. In order to make this Twitter: @CottonFarming

happen then, we must trigger the spray on or shortly after the historical date for the bollworm moth flight determined by egg or small larvae counts.” Mississippi Perspective Before the beginning of the 2018 season, Mississippi State University research and Extension entomologist Jeff Gore speculated that it is highly likely that two-gene cotton will have to be sprayed at least once for bollworm this year. “The three-gene cottons are not immune to bollworm and there may be rare cases where they have to be sprayed as well,” Gore says. “Again, it is going to be critical to know where the two-gene varieties and the threegene varieties are planted because our thresholds are different. On the two-gene cottons, we suggest spray-

ing based on the presence of eggs.” Although it is not published in the Insect Control Guide, Gore says these are the thresholds: • 20 percent eggs anywhere on the plants for the two-gene cottons (Bollgard II, TwinLink and WideStrike) • 4 percent worms or 6 percent damage for the three-gene cottons (Bollgard 3, TwinLink Plus and WideStrike 3) “Remember, know where each cotton type is planted to avoid making unnecessary applications on threegene cotton because somebody wasn’t sure where it was,” he says. “This knowledge can reduce overall costs.” The insect control take-home message at this point in the season is to continue to scout closely and make timely sprays. Get them before they get your cotton crop.

2017 Bollworm Pressure In Texas Texas A&M University entomologist David Kerns reports on the results of a bollworm pressure survey conducted across the state of Texas in 2017. • Lower Rio Grande Valley — low • Southern Blacklands — moderate to high • Middle Blacklands — high • Upper Blacklands — moderate to high • West Texas — low “As far as treatment at threshold, I don’t make recommendations for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Two years ago in Texas, we developed a threshold of 6 percent fruit injury,” Kern says. “That gives the technology time to work. The problem is if you don’t get the worm soon enough and it moves into the canopy, you’re not going to kill it, even with Prevathon. “That’s why, from my perspective, I lean toward an egg threshold. Although I don’t have a number for that, I don’t mind telling people to spray eggs under high worm pressure on anything except Vip Cotton. I wouldn’t do that on Vip at this point. However, the farmers in West Texas don’t see this kind of pressure so they use the injury threshold that works for them.”



Continued from page 10

in advance of the weevil, creating a boom in cotton plantings in areas that were weevil-free. But as the cotton spread, so did the boll weevil — costing cotton growers billions in revenue. Declaring War On The Weevil Then, in 1958, something novel happened. The National Cotton Council of America unanimously agreed, for the first time ever, on a piece of farm legislation. Among other things, that legislation called for cotton research to be expanded — and the boll weevil to be eliminated.

cattle. The sterile insect technique relies on flooding the environment with lots of sterile males. Those males then mate with females, but don’t produce any offspring. Knipling now envisioned eradication of the boll weevil, recognizing that it had two chinks in its armor. First, it was an exotic species, which meant that it could be present without some of the parasites and predators that weakened populations in its native Mexico. Second, it was reliant on a single host plant, cotton, which was also not native to the United States. Unfortunately, the sterile insect technique bombed. One million ster-

Cotton production moved in advance of the weevil, creating a boom in cotton plantings in areas that were weevil-free. But as the cotton spread, so did the boll weevil — costing cotton growers billions in revenue. This was an unusual step for many reasons. First, efforts had been made to eradicate insects in livestock before, but no one had ever tried it with a crop pest; this was breaking new ground. Second, this was going to cost a lot of money, which would require the support of the federal government. Third, nobody had yet come up with a way to eradicate the insect. Finally, once eradication began, the eradication process would become a common pool resource. Because of this, cooperation would be vital, given that there would be a temptation for individuals, or whole regions, to get a free ride, relying on the contributions of their neighbors to the eradication effort. So mandatory farmer participation was a must. One by one, each of the challenges were addressed, requiring close collaboration at every step. Sterile Insect Technique Insect eradication was not an entirely new concept. The promoter of eradication was a USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist named Edward Knipling, who had come up with an idea called the sterile insect technique. This technique was pioneered in the 1950s to eliminate screwworm, a parasitic insect pest of



ile boll weevil males were released in a trial. However, the sterile males couldn’t compete with their virile wild counterparts, and the trial was unsuccessful. Millions Of Dollars Needed If eradication was going to take place, scientists would have to develop a new method. To that end, the federal government, state governments, and various cotton foundations and associations appropriated millions of dollars to support the research needed to develop the necessary tools for eradication. For example, Congress funded USDA-ARS laboratories in many states, including one on the campus of Mississippi State University that was critical to creating many of the tools needed for eradication. This support continued through the eradication effort, ensuring that the insect could be eliminated beginning in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, and moving steadily southward. But the researchers of eradication faced a significant challenge up front. They knew that, for eradication to be successful, there had to be a very effective method of controlling boll weevils — one with a success rate of close to 100 percent. And that would

require a significant leap over the available control techniques. During the 1950s, controlling boll weevil infestations required multiple applications of very harsh and toxic insecticides (e.g., aldrin, azinphosmethyl, benzene hexachloride, chlordane, dieldrin, toxaphene, malathion, methyl parathion and parathion). But a separate scientific advance was just around the corner. New Weapons In the 1960s, researchers were just beginning to understand the importance of insect pheromones, the chemicals produced by insect species that change behavior of other individuals in the species. USDA-ARS scientists discovered the sex attractant pheromones of the boll weevil — the combination of chemicals that allowed male boll weevils to find female boll weevils. These researchers were able to perfect a synthetic attractant pheromone blend, creating a lure that could be used to trap the amorous boll weevils. This advance would prove to be the linchpin for successful eradication, as weevils could be attracted, trapped and monitored. Another major breakthrough was the discovery of a method of control that increased success from 85-90 percent control to 98-99 percent. Insect development is dependent on temperature, and lower temperatures slow down weevil development and reproduction. Mississippi scientists discovered that, by making multiple insecticide applications at short intervals during the autumn, they could both reduce the last reproductive generation of the weevils and significantly limit the survival of potentially overwintering adults. This was termed the reproduction-diapause control method. The combination of the pheromone traps and the reproduction-diapause control method meant that, given cooperation on an area-wide basis, the boll weevil might be eradicated. And the pheromone traps cold also be used to confirm whether eradication efforts were successful. This one-two punch was tested in a pilot program in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana during the early 1970s. The pilot program couldn’t prove that this approach would eradicate boll weevils, but it was successful enough at reducing population levCOTTONFARMING.COM

els that government, industry and research officials opted to proceed with a large-scale approach. This next step involved rolling out two companion trials in the late 1970s: one trial took place in Mississippi using the best known control methods for boll weevil at the time. Another trial tested the reproduction-diapause control method in North Carolina and Virginia. Cooperation was critical to the North Carolina/Virginia trial. The federal government came through with enough funding to support 50 percent of the trial, while the state of North Carolina agreed to pick up another 25 percent of the cost. And more than three-quarters of North Carolina cotton growers approved of the eradication, agreeing to fund the remaining 25 percent. Meanwhile, a new insecticide had become available, diflubenzuron, which proved to make the eradication even more successful. After three years, the reproduction-diapause method proved so successful that only one weevil was trapped in the North Carolina/ Virginia eradication area. Moreover, this weevil was thought to be left over in a contaminated trap that hadn’t been cleaned properly. Insecticide use plummeted after eradication, but expansion and continuation of the program was not easy. Problems with funding, grower support in new eradication areas, and outbreaks of other pests, resulting from intensive insecticide applications used in eradication efforts — which obliterated beneficial insects that normally kept pests in check — slowed the process. However, by 2009, the boll weevil was declared eradicated from all U.S. cotton-producing states, with one exception: Texas, which is the biggest cotton producer in the country. A Fragile Victory Which brings us to 2017. Eradication efforts have been stalled at the Texas-Mexico border, largely due to the instability created by illegal drug trafficking. That instability has effectively made large cotton farms in Mexico inaccessible for treatment, creating a welcoming habitat for boll weevil populations to rebound. Another problem in Mexico is the presence of non-cotton plant species TWITTER: @COTTONFARMING

that can host boll weevil. Further efforts to limit cooperation across the border, including the proposed border wall, ensure that the boll weevil’s “wave of evil” remains a looming threat. As a result, there is an ongoing battle to keep boll weevils in check in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, funded by an ongoing annual assessment from cotton-producing states, which is aimed at preventing — and tracking — the spread of boll weevil populations. Investments Still Visible Today But this story also highlights the fact that the boll weevil has been largely conquered in the United States, thanks to cooperation among growers, scientists and government officials — and due, in large part, to federal research funding. For example, in the southeastern United States, a boll weevil has not been captured in a pheromone trap in 14 years. And those federal investments, made across the South, continue to pay dividends in the form of new projects, which are poised to tackle today’s

native and invasive insects due to the investments made from boll weevil eradication. For example, those early investments by state and federal governments created the USDA-ARS research system that is still present today across the southern United States, including the facility at Mississippi State. This system continues to make a difference for U.S. farms. Research units in areas that still have boll weevil populations are using cutting-edge technologies, such as population genetics and aerial infrared imaging, to track movement of the species and identify potential patches of host plants for destruction. As boll weevils have been slowly eradicated, state by state, these researchers and facilities have shifted research priorities to other issues and pests affecting crop production. No one wants to fight another hundred-year war with a plant pest. Dominic Reisig is an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University. This article was originally published by NCSU.

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Specialists Speaking We’re Off And Running ARKANSAS Bill Robertson Very little cotton was planted in April this season in Arkansas. Most of our April cotton was planted the last two or three days of the month when planting conditions went from poor to very good. They continued to be very good through May. The first 40 days in the life of a cotton plant sets the foundation for yield and fiber quality potential for the season. This includes the period from planting to squaring. Our crop emerged quickly, and with good conditions for growth we should expect to see squares 35 days after planting. Pest management issues are generally the greatest concerns for our young crop. However, as we move into June, other factors including fertility and soil moisture stress become more critical. In dry years, consideration for irrigating pre-squaring cotton may arise especially if new node production slows to five to six days. We generally do not irrigate cotton during this time in the Mid-South. Research demonstrates the importance of avoiding stress once squaring begins. Irrigation water management is our next big challenge. There are many programs, tools and practices available that producers can use to help improve irrigation water-use efficiency. Everyone who uses collapsible poly tubing should be using computerized hole selection. We want to go into squaring with a plant developing a new node every 2.5 to three days and have square retention greater than 80 percent. This will put us on track to having nine to 10 nodes above white flower at first flower. Contact your county Extension agent for more information.

MISSOURI Calvin Meeks April was cool and wet in the Missouri Bootheel, which slowed fieldwork. Some cotton planted at the end of April in less-than-ideal conditions should be closely observed. Because we’ve had issues surrounding seed treatments, Missouri producers with early planted cotton should keep an eye out for slippage in thrips control and be prepared to make foliar applications if populations exceed thresholds. With cool weather and low soil temperatures present at the end of April, early planted cotton cannot afford to run out of steam while trying to fight off cold and thrips damage. Replant decisions must be made quickly as well. I hesitate to replant in late May because cotton can tolerate lower population stands as long as there are not excessive 2- to 3-foot skips. Regardless of whether planting was in April or May, early season management is crucial for Missouri cotton growers. Prompt early season control of insects, such as thrips, as well as later applications of plant growth regulators will help ensure the crop is timely. Residual herbicide applications will be needed to prevent early season weed pressure. Even with the changes in the 24(c) Special Local Needs labels for FeXapan, XtendiMax and Engenia with the deadline being pushed back to June 10, residual herbicide applications can reduce early season pressure and help preserve the technologies. Growers must be mindful of off-target movement and make sure mandatory training has been completed. Wet, cool weather during April delayed corn planting so cotton



acres may increase. After a good year in 2017, there is a lot of optimism surrounding Missouri cotton. We are all hoping for a successful and safe start to the 2018 season with more cooperative weather as the season progresses.

TEXAS Gaylon Morgan The 2018 season has already presented its fair share of challenges for cotton farmers in South and East Texas. Cotton has been flowering in the Rio Grande Valley since early May. Insect pressure has been low across much of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and irrigated fields are looking good. Unfortunately, many of the dryland acres have been zeroed-out, and the remaining fields have a low yield potential. The Coastal Bend started strong but endured high winds and blowing sand in April that really set the crop back. Many fields were replanted while other farmers stuck with the remaining damaged crop. The Coastal Bend is in a moderate drought as cotton is beginning to bloom. Some precipitation by late May will be critical to obtaining moderate yields. The Upper Gulf Coast and Blacklands have struggled to get adequate stands, even after temperatures warmed. Seedling diseases have been widespread, which is leading to some tough replanting decisions. The Southern Rolling Plains caught some rain the first week of May, and planting was in high gear by mid-May to capitalize on the soil moisture. Unfortunately, the Central and Northern Rolling Plains have not received measurable rainfall and are in a moderate to severe drought. Some of the irrigated ground was getting planted the second week of May, but high temperatures and winds created challenges for the irrigated ground as well.

NORTH CAROLINA Guy Collins The first week of May brought ideal temperatures for planting with good soil moisture. As I write this on May 6, many North Carolina cotton growers have completed their first full week of planting, and a larger-than-expected proportion of our acres were planted during that time. Much of the state experienced a much-needed rain this evening, as soil moisture was beginning to deplete. With continued good temperatures, I anticipate another busy week of planting. Many farmers are well ahead of schedule regarding the percentage of acres planted compared to this time last year and the year before. Although not much cotton has emerged yet, we are off to a good start. The areas that missed rain this evening will need moisture soon, as temperatures are expected to remain relatively warm. Time will tell the story of how successful planting will be in 2018. There have not been any major delays yet due to weather, and no need for replanting at this time. By the time you read this, post-emergence herbicide applications, as well as foliar applications for thrips, will be underway. June is historically the time when lygus insects begin. We cannot stress enough the need for thorough and frequent scouting for this insect pest. Timely applications and rotation of chemistries is ultimately the COTTONFARMING.COM

Specialists Speaking best approach to managing these insects. Poor scouting or delayed applications can be very costly. Growers should also pay attention to weather forecasts when making pre-bloom plant growth regulator decisions. Pre-bloom PGRs need only be applied when soil moisture is sufficient for vigorous growth and there is a strong likelihood that rains will continue. Remember, we are never more than four to five days away from a drought, especially on sandy soils. Therefore, pre-bloom PGR applications should be avoided if the weather forecast is unclear or fickle or if rains are unlikely. If needed, pre-bloom PGR applications should be focused on fields with a history of rank growth, especially for varieties with a propensity for aggressive growth.

MISSISSIPPI Darrin Dodds The majority of the 2018 Mississippi cotton crop was planted April 30–May 15. While some acres remained to be planted after May 15, most of these were either too wet or too dry to finish. The planting season, albeit compressed, went as smoothly as any in recent memory. The biggest concern coming out of May was lack of rainfall following application of pre-emergence herbicides. Contingency plans had to be developed where they did not get activated. Isolated weather patterns also created issues; however, most of the crop is up and off to a good start. June is a transitional month for Mississippi cotton. Early in the month, our cotton moves beyond the stage where thrips are an issue. By the end of the month, it nears bloom when tarnished plant bugs are not uncommon. Where pre herbicides were not activated due to lack of rainfall, timely weed control will be needed. Nitrogen fertilizer applications and laying collapsible poly tubing in furrow-irrigated fields will also be critical in June. Accomplishing these tasks over the next four weeks will put you in the best position possible to maximize yield.

ARIZONA Randy Norton As the majority of the Arizona crop enters June, it is progressing well into the primary fruiting cycle. We will soon, if not already, begin to see blooms in the field. This is prime time for fertilizer application, particularly nitrogen. Crop uptake of N begins to increase rapidly as the crop approaches first square and continues to increase until the crop reaches peak bloom. N uptake then begins to taper off through the remainder of the primary fruiting cycle. Research demonstrates the window between first square and peak bloom is when fertilizer N applications should be made to maximize N use efficiency. The amount of fertilizer N to apply can be determined by using a simple yield goal approach. Observations show about 40-50 units (pounds) of N are needed to produce 1 bale (490 pounds) of lint. So an expected yield of 1,500 pounds of lint requires total N of about 120-150 pounds. Keep in mind not all of this N has to come from fertilizer. There are other sources of N available in the crop system that can provide some of what is required by the crop. The two main sources are residual N in the soil from previous crops and N supplied through irrigation water. Residual soil N can be determined with preseason or early season Twitter: @CottonFarming

soil test analysis. The analysis from a soil test should return a value of nitrate-N in parts per million (ppm). Every ppm in the top foot of soil is the equivalent of 4 pounds of N per acre. For example, if a soil test comes back with a value of 10 ppm nitrate-N in the top foot of soil, this would indicate a 40 pounds N per acre credit against the total needed for the crop. For irrigation water, the value of nitrate-N (ppm) is multiplied by 2.7 to obtain the total number of pounds of N for every acre-foot of water applied to the crop. Subtracting the “credits” for residual soil N and N applied through irrigation water from the total required by the crop helps determine the correct amount to apply through N fertilization. This amount should be applied in the first square to peak bloom window to maximize efficiency with respect to the primary fruiting cycle. For more information on this topic and others, go to cals.arizona. edu/crops.

FLORIDA David Wright The 2018 season got off to a warm start in February. Near planting, several weeks of cool days and nights persisted into the first half of May. June is generally a dry month in the Southeast with irrigation systems running to get robust stands and early growth with good weed control. We never fail to battle weeds at some time during June before cotton laps row middles and shades weeds. This is also the time to keep an eye on growth and use of plant growth regulators. PGRs may be needed in late June when the cotton is growing too fast. Sidedressing N and other needed nutrients is often done during this time as well. Much of the intensive management will be completed by the end of June, which is typically just prior to flowering. Scouting is important throughout squaring and boll set to ensure early boll set and earlier harvest.

OKLAHOMA Seth Byrd As I write this in mid-May, most of the Oklahoma cotton acres are still waiting for a rain. Some areas of the southwestern part of the state were able to get cotton planted in early May due to better moisture conditions. However, a large proportion of the acres will likely be planted in the second half of May or perhaps early June. Even though cotton’s water demand is relatively low during the early vegetative growth stages after emergence, it’s important to avoid water stress. In good years, a couple of rains may provide enough moisture to bridge the gap between emergence and squaring when the crop’s water sensitivity increases. Although irrigation may not be on our minds in the early part of the season, pest control should be. Avoiding stress from thrips and other vegetative feeding insects is key to ensure no maturity delays and vigorous vegetative growth. Be sure to scout for thrips, particularly during the cotyledon to one-leaf stage. If an insecticide application is necessary, the one-leaf stage is typically considered the best timing. This will provide control until the plant can reach the four- to five-leaf stage when it can tolerate the feeding without detrimental results. Weed control is essential. Include products that target weeds present in the field and a residual product to provide control of weeds that have yet to emerge. A clean field allows developing plants to access the nutrients, moisture and sunlight without competing with JUNE 2018 COTTON FARMING


Specialists Speaking

TENNESSEE Tyson Raper As I write this May 9, a large portion of our cotton acreage in West Tennessee has been planted. With a little luck, we should get close to finishing within the next 10 days. Abnormally warm conditions have supported rapid seedling growth, and the crop appears to be off to a great start. As we move into June, it’s time to think about applying a plant growth regulator. Several farmers have said they have a hard time slowing growth of our current varieties to an acceptable rate with PGRs. If you have had issues controlling growth in the past few years, I encourage you to begin applying low amounts of PGRs

at the first square stage. As the price of plant growth regulators has dropped and the desire for rapid canopy closure has grown, we have begun delaying PGR applications to later in the season. Unfortunately, 8 ounces applied the second week of flowering will be far less effective than 8 ounces applied at the second week of squaring. Be aware the maximum seasonal use rate of a 4.2 percent mepiquat chloride product (likely what you are applying) is 48 ounces per acre per year. Fortunately, our current herbicide options in cotton relieve some of the pressure associated with the need for rapid canopy closure. I also believe our current cultivars are generally more tolerant to stress than their predecessors. Furthermore, delaying canopy closure and allowing more airflow into the lower canopy is hypothesized to reducing the severity and incidence of target spot and boll rot. The take-home message is to start earlier and be more aggressive, especially if you have had issues in the past.

University of Tennessee personnel vacuum cottonseed out of planter boxes while putting in largeplot variety trials. This action prevents mixing together seed from different varieties.




more vigorous weed species. While scouting for early season insect pests, take note of the weed species present so an effective herbicide mix can be applied.




Department Of Labor Wage And Hour Inspects Gins Two Years In A Row Twelve West Texas gins were inspected by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor during the 2016/2017 ginning season. The Wage and Hour folks came right back this year, inspecting eight more gins. I don’t know whether we will see them again next year, but the Wage and Hour folks certainly know what a cotton gin is. The Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association staff has spent a fair amount of time working with the Wage and Hour administrator in Lubbock. We have learned some things that are probably important items to check at any gin across the Cotton Belt. These inspections were conducted to check for compliance with the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act. In many cases, we have some workers who are migrant and seasonal, and some who are seasonal but not migrant. If all of your workers are from the local area, you may not have migrant workers, and the rules are a little different. For the majority of those who use migrant and seasonal workers, here are some helpful hints to keep you out of trouble with the Wage and Hour folks. Information Must Be Provided To Workers There is a list of information that must be provided to migrant

workers with their paycheck. These include the basis on which wages are paid (hourly rate), the number of hours worked, the total pay period earnings, the specific sums withheld and the purpose of each sum withheld, and the net pay. In addition, you have to include the employer’s name, address and employer identification number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service. Finally, there are requirements for worker information that are required, and this includes the worker’s social security number on the paystub. The two items our gins tend to be missing are the employer’s EIN number, and the worker’s Social Security number. The EIN must be spelled out, but the Social Security number can be printed with just the last four digits showing (XXX-XX-1234). There is also a list of information you must provide all migrant workers when you recruit them and which you must provide seasonal workers if they ask for it. We recommend to all our members that they give this form to all seasonal workers when they are recruited. This form is available at https://www. You don’t have to use the form, but it contains all the information needed. You can fill out all but two blanks on the form before you begin recruiting and then fill

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in the wage rate and the hire date for each worker as you recruit them. One important blank on this form is right at the top. You must tell workers their time of employment from start to finish. The start date is usually known with some certainty, but the ending date is unknown. We recommend our members put “end of ginning season” as the ending date for employment. An employer is required to give the worker the best data they know at the time of recruitment, but we never when 13 template 3/7/14 3:26know PM Page 1 we will finish ginning. Guessing at an end date and writing it down involves multiple problems, but that is more information than we have room for here. Worker Recruitment Timing One final note – this form is due when a worker is recruited. At most gins, workers are required to come in and fill out an application before they are offered a job. If this is your practice, then you are not recruiting until that time, and you can hand out the WH-516 form when they are offered a job. On the other hand, we have instances where the gin has the same crew that comes back every year. In this example, if they call in August to see when they need to be at the gin and you tell the worker to come up in the second week in October to work, then you have just recruited this worker. You must send them the information at that time. This is something to consider when determining your hiring practices. Kelley Green, TCGA director of technical services, contributed this article. Contact him at







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Cotton’s Calendar 2018 n June 5-7: Stoneville Ginners School, USDA Ginning Research Laboratory, Stoneville, Mississippi n June 20: Staplcotn/Stapldiscount Board Meeting, Greenwood, Mississippi n June 20: Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Board Meeting, Delegate Body Meeting, Marketing Pool Committee Meeting, Lubbock, Texas n June 21-22: Arizona Cotton Ginners and Growers Annual Meeting, Little America Hotel, Flagstaff, Arizona

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n June 21: Calcot Ltd Board of Directors Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona n July 8-11: Southern Southeastern Mid-Year Board Meeting, Sonesta Resort, Hilton Head, South Carolina n July 11-13: Cottonseed and Feed Association/National Cottonseed Products Association Joint Convention, Radisson Blu, Minneapolis, Minnesota n July 19: Calcot Ltd Board of Directors Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona n July 31-Aug. 1: American Cotton Producers/Cotton Foundation Joint Meeting, The St. Anthony Hotel, San Antonio, Texas n Aug. 7-9: Cotton Incorporated Board of Director’s Meeting,The Phoenician Hotel, Scottsdale, Arizona n Aug. 15: PCCA Board Meeting, Delegate Body Meeting, Marketing Pool Committee Meeting, Lubbock, Texas n Aug. 20-22: National Cotton Council Mid-Year Board Meeting, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee

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was raised on a farm costs. Today, some people don’t even know what a i n A r k a n s a s , b u t boll weevil looks like. I also spent time at Mississippi State working we didn’t grow cotton. When I went to under Dr. Randy Luttrell spraying cotton inseccollege, somebody said I ticide trials. After a couple of years, I got an offer should take an entomology to come back to Arkansas as a county agent in class. I didn’t know what Jefferson County where I ran the scouting prothat was, but I enjoyed gram. At the time, there were about 60,000 acres it and decided to take of cotton in Jefferson County, and we scouted another one. That was about half of them. That’s when Marvin Wall my sophomore year at the showed me the ins and outs of cotton entomoloUniversity of Arkansas in gy. Jake Phillips and Marvin are the guys who Gus taught me practical, economical cotton insect conFayetteville. Lorenz The guy teaching the trol. They are my heroes. I learned a lot about kids while running the class came in one day and said, “We are looking to hire cotton scouts this scouting program. Some were very diligent and summer.” I said, “What’s a cotton scout?” He said, others were there just to get a paycheck. Every “You go out in the field, look at cotton, check it day, I got up before the sun rose to check behind the scouts. Sometimes for bugs and see if it I would sneak around needs to be sprayed. “‘I saw you up on that levee to watch them to make Are you interested?” sure they were doing That summer we watching us scout.’” their job. We had strict loaded up in a truck scouting procedures. and drove to Portland, I had a kid tell me one time, “I saw you up on Arkansas. I lived in a trailer, scouted cotton every day and fell in love with it. I got a lot of mentor- that levee watching us scout.” I said, “Is that so?” ing from Dr. Charles Lincoln — who was an icon He said, “Well, I don’t appreciate it.” I said, “I in cotton entomology — and Dr. Jake Phillips. I don’t much care if you appreciate it or not, I have enjoyed that summer, and they asked me to come a job out here to serve the growers, and I am back the next year as a crew chief. That’s when going to do whatever I have to do. If you don’t like my career in entomology really took off. So I have it, you can pack your stuff, get in that truck and go to the house.” been scouting cotton for about 40 years. I had to keep those kids motivated, and today I remember going to meetings where about 100 growers would gather at somebody’s farm shop. I am proud that some of them, like Jack Haney I watched Dr. Phillips get up on the stump and and Tracy Welch, make their living as consulreally talk. This was before Bollgard cotton, so tants. It’s gratifying to see them doing what I worms were a big deal. Pyrethroids came on the trained them to do. In looking back at my career, I have enjoyed market, and we watched how they performed compared to the old standards like EPN-Methyl. working with the agriculture community — the Pyrethroids were very effective on worms and growers, the consultants, the industry folks. I probably increased yields by half a bale per acre. also work with a good group of people every day Then budworms developed resistance and got — program associates and graduate students. I couldn’t do my job without my crew. They are harder and harder to kill. The boll weevil eradication grower meetings good folks, and we always have fun. I’m out. got pretty tough at times. I remember getting cussed out, glared at and watching people whis— Gus Lorenz per to each other and point at me. It was ugly, but Lonoke, Arkansas we finally got through the program, eradicated the weevil, increased our yields and lowered our

Cotton Farming’s back page is devoted to telling unusual “farm tales” or timely stories from across the Cotton Belt. Now it’s your turn. If you’ve got an interesting story to tell, send a short summary to We look forward to hearing from you.




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