Scattered rainfall over the last 10 days was the saving grace for many cotton fields across the state. Rain totals range from zero in parts of Central and Northeast Arkansas to over 8 inches in Southeast counties. Prior to this much needed rain, many fields were cutout (NAWF=5) or close with blooms coming quickly to the top of plants. The last couple days we have recoded NAWF (nodes above white flower) in most of our on-farm trials and small plot trials across the state. The exteneded period of cloudy conditions and rain has brought new life to many of these fields. Now it appears that we are at least maintaining a NAWF=5 for another week and in some cases we have gained two nodes up the main stem. This provides us with an opportunity to build more nodes and fruiting structures prior to physiological cutout. However, this “new life” has not come without a cost. We have shed many fruiting forms as a result of the cloudy conditions and rainfall. Fields that were cutout and fields that were under more drought stress appeared to have shed the most fruit. In most cases this fruit is falling off right after the bloom tags dry down and most of the time it is the second and third position fruit that is shedding.
Several have called concerned about the fruit shed, but we all know that it happens every year and this year we were particularly set up to shed becasue we have successufully retained 95% of all fruit to this point. Varieties also seem to be handling some of this better than others and once we have sufficient data we will be able to expand on this a little more. If terminals are exteneding growth regulators will be needed to prevent rank growth in the next seven days. Most of these fields will require higher rates of at least 16oz/A of a generic plant growth regulator to prevent rank growth.
According to consultants in Northeast Arkansas the Bacterial blight continues to infect the lower leaves of many varieties, but does not seem to be progressing to the top of the plant. Infected leaves are dropping and some sympotoms can be seen on lower fruit, or lower fruit appears to be smaller in size due to the defoliation of leaves down in the canopy. Hopefully this disease will play out like it did last year with minimal effects on overall yield potential. It is important to continue to look for and monitor disease so management decisions can be made for 2103 growing season.
As a whole the Arkansas cotton crop continues to be one of the earliest in recent memory and approximately 10% of this crop is cutout and heat units are beng monitored for insecticide and irrigation termination. Strict irrigation schedules and timely insecticide applications are at the top of the to do list to finish out this better than average cotton crop.