August 1, 2006


Linked is a copy of the agenda for the Big Country Wheat Conference to be held in Abilene, Texas on August 17, 2006. There are a number of excellent speakers on the program and it will be worth your time and effort to attend.

Information from small grain tests conducted in 2006 is available.

Field preparation for planting small grains should be completed soon so the seedbeds have time to firm. Volunteer plants and weeds serve as hosts for insects and disease and need to be terminated a minimum of two weeks before planting. The use of a burndown herbicide will also work, but it will be challenging to kill moisture stressed weeds.

Variety tests can be designed to look at grain production, forage production or both. Seed may be needed for grazing studies looking at planting date and/or livestock removal date, seed treatment studies, and small grain comparison tests. Other types of demonstrations include fertility and weed control tests. For weed control we will be looking for plots that have problems with Wild oats and Ryegrass. I would like to know what small grain tests are going to be conducted and what type of assistance that will be needed.

If your producers are interested in forage production only and want a test established to compare differences between barley, oats, triticale and rye, that can be arranged. From the tests conducted over the past five years we have been able to narrow down the variety list. Annually, the performance of these varieties will need to be watched to determine changes in insect and disease pressures. As new varieties become available they will be included in several tests to determine if they have a future in our small grain testing program. If you feel that this approach is not in the best interest of the producers in your county, please give me a call.

Similar to last year, my guess is that Agripro will require an "Agripro Wheat Demo Seed Distribution Agreement" form to be signed by you and the cooperating producer of the result demonstration plots. Basically, the agreement form is to prevent anyone from saving or selling any seed grown within the county demonstration plots. TAES is also considering a similar form for its experimental lines currently in Foundation Seed. I will keep you updated.

The following varieties are being considered for the uniform variety trials in the West Region: Jagalene, Cutter, TAM 112, Jagger, Dumas, Coronado, Longhorn, Sturdy 2K, WinMaster, and Abilene Ag Exp. #1.

If you need assistance in securing other small grains (oats, barley, etc.) or ryegrass for tests please contact me soon.


Answers for Cotton Workbook questions 1 to 14 are linked.

The Cotton Training Level II conducted July 12 and 13 received a lot of positive feedback. At the field we discussed the four bract cotton and why it was occurring. Here is another person's opinion:

Noted in the July 21, 2006 issue of Mississippi Crop Situation, Editor: Angus Catchot had the following write-up:

Dry, hot weather continues to plague the state and cotton yield potential is steadily decreasing in the non-irrigated cotton fields. Those that have caught timely showers are in good shape and the cotton is holding on. There are other areas that have not had significant rainfall since the first part of June that will be done if relief doesn't come soon.

There have been a lot of phone calls and discussion regarding four bract squares. My counterparts in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee have all reported on these to some extent in recent newsletters. These squares can have many appearances. In some instances there may be an extra fourth bract and in most cases it will be smaller than the other three. Some will have a malformed flower bud that appears to have a growth on one side. Others may have the bract fused to the flower bud. We see a few of these four bract squares every year. This season it seems that we are observing more than we ever have; in one field we counted 28% four bract squares. This phenomenon is not variety specific as we have observed them in many different varieties. It is not related to glyphosate drift or applications because four bract squares have been found in fields that were not treated with glyphosate. These squares are not the result from insect damage or feeding. These squares are generally more open because the bracts will not fully close around the bud due to the disfiguration. Because they are open, they appear flared and are very easy to spot. In most cases these squares will shed because they are malformed and will not flower and pollinate correctly. However, if the four bracts are the same size, the bracts will close over the square, in many cases, reducing the probability of shed. The majority of four bract squares has been observed in the younger cotton,15 to 17 nodes or less. These were observed when this cotton was in the early stages of bloom.

I talked extensively with Dr. Jack Mauney (retired USDA world-renowned cotton physiologist) about this topic to try and figure out exactly what is causing us to have a higher percentage of the four bract squares this season. The answer is not as clear-cut is we all want it to be, mostly because it involves Mother Nature. From visiting with Dr. Mauney I have concluded that there was a particular weather pattern when these four bract squares were developed in the terminal. They started as a whorl of leaves in the terminal and due to the environmental conditions being conducive for quick growth, at some point the plant became confused as to whether to grow leaves or fruit. At this point, the extra bract (modified leaf) was added and the four bract square was developed. The bracts on a square are modified leaves. When the plant gets "confused" as to whether to go vegetative or reproductive, the extra leaf or bract will be formed. Of course this is not noticeable until two to three weeks later by the naked eye. Environmental conditions such as warmer days and cooler nights (optimum for quick cotton growth and development) could be the cause. It is important to remember that once you see a four bract square, the cause happened two to three weeks before the observation. There is nothing we can do to keep these squares on the plant if they are set up to shed. However, the cotton plant will recover and begin to put on normal squares. A couple positions may be lost, but we can't hold and mature all the fruit anyway.


Out of the 22 cotton variety tests established this year, only 12 remain due to environmental impacts.

How do you decide when to apply a growth regulator? No growth regulator is needed if the plant is:

  1. Moisture stressed or
  2. Approaching cutout (less than 5 nodes remain above the top white bloom in the first position)
  3. Averaging a combined length of less than 10 inches on the top five nodes and/or
  4. Averaging more than six half-grown bolls per plant

Producers are asking for late planted cotton strategies. You can't speed the cotton up since it is driven by heat. The cotton plant functions at maximum level if the temperature remains between 72 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As daytime temperatures get above 95 degrees we are losing plant development time. Square retention on cotton impacted by high air temperatures in August will be a challenge. Cotton plants will not develop enough leaf canopy to shade most of the soil surface. As the small squares (less than five days of age) are developing, the heat generated from the soil surface is high enough to result in pollen sterilization. Generally, if there were only one or two days of these hot temperatures, most producers would not even notice the loss of bolls at flowering. However, with a week of these temperatures, we will have an obvious gap in the cotton fruiting pattern and producers will want to blame it on a flush of insects or something. The biggest problem will be apparent by September 5th. For quality lint, the cotton needs to bloom in our region by that date. After that date, it may make lint, but the micronaire and yield per boll will be low. To help reduce the impact of low micronaire, producers may want to reduce plant development by applying mepiquat chloride during the first week in September. This will reduce the amount of low quality lint by reducing the number of immature bolls harvested at the end of the season. The cotton will need a lot of heat units in September and October and a late freeze if it is going to make it.

In July we had two confirmed fields with Reniform Nematodes and this publication can help you in answering producers' questions. Linked is a copy of the Cotton Physiology Today publication which is provided to producers by the National Cotton Council. This month's topic is "Timely Soil Sampling--A Nematode's Nemesis." This is a very informative newsletter concerning nematodes and cotton and will make a good addition to your cotton information file.

Harvest Aids

Some of the early planted cotton is progressing at a rapid rate and may be ready to terminate by the middle of September. If you're planning to conduct cotton harvest aid termination tests, let me know. Currently Rick Minzenmayer, Warren Multer, Zach Wilcox, and Tommy Yeater are planning to establish tests this fall.

Weed Control

A hog potato control test will be established in Nolan County in October.

Currently, a morningglory control test using Ignite is being conducted in Tom Green County. Results will be sent to you as soon as they are available.

Pesticide Recertification Training

On August 14, there will be a training conducted at Abilene for producers needing to obtain a Private Applicator's license. For more details and to register for the meeting, call Gary Bomar at (325) 672-6048.

Monthly Calendar


August 3, Coke County, Small Grain Production Meeting
August 6 - 9, Bexar County, Specialists Association Meeting
August 10, Tom Green County, Silver Clover Award Program
August 15 & 16, Dallas County, Small Grains Workers Meeting
August 17, Taylor County, Big Country Wheat Conference
August 18, Tom Green County, Professional Ag Workers
August 24, Brown, Mills, and San Saba Counties, Stocker Cattle Meeting
August 28 - 30, Ruidoso, New Mexico, Cotton Production Meeting


September 1, Glasscock County, Spray Harvest Aids
September 7, Tom Green County, Sheep and Goat Field Day
September 8, District 7 Office, Teleconference
September 11, District 7 Office, Office Conference
September 12, Reagan, Upton, and Glasscock Counties, Cotton Tour
September 13 & 14, Lubbock County, TWIG Meeting
September 15, Howard County, Spray Harvest Aids
September 18, District 7 Office, Administrative Meeting
September 19, District 6 Office, Specialist Scheduling
September 20, Eastland County, Drift Minimization Presentation
September 26, District 7 Office, Specialist Scheduling
September 27, Nolan County, Spray Harvest Aids
September 28, Howard County, Ag Expo and Crop Tour


Billy E. Warrick
Professor and Extension Agronomist
Texas Cooperative Extension
Texas A&M University System