|August 31, 2004
Coke, Jones, McCulloch, Runnels, and Taylor Counties are the only counties that requested wheat seed for result demonstration tests. I will let you know as soon as the seed is ready to be picked up.
I still need summaries from a couple of wheat demonstrations. If you have finished writing your results, please send me a copy as soon as possible by e-mail. I would appreciate it.
The Wheat Symposium held in Abilene on August 19 was well attended with over 200 producers from across the state. The agents in attendance indicated that this was an excellent agent training meeting. All involved in planning are to be commended. Every producer I talked to indicated that this was an excellent program. I enjoyed the wide array of presentations which increased my knowledge on wheat growth and development. For instance: What is the inverted bell curve concerning the planting depth of wheat seed? Answer: Plant shallow (no more than 1.25 inches) in the hot portion of the fall; plant to the depth of emergence (2 to 2.5 inches depending on variety) during the ideal planting period (October 15 to November 15); plant shallow (no more than 1.25 inches) in late November and early December.
Some small grain tests that can be conducted include: 1) Effect of planting date and rate on forage and grain production; 2) Determination of forage production in the fall and in the spring; 3) Timing and rate of nutrient application; 4) Disease ratings of wheat; 5) Weed control; 6) Note when dormancy breaks in each variety; 7) Pull off date for grazed wheat and its impact on grain yield; 8) Insect ratings; 9) Comparison of certified wheat with standard wheat; and 10) Plant height, standability, test weight per bushel, moisture and grain yield.
The recent rains resulted in the germination of a lot of weeds and volunteer wheat. To retain the moisture and the firm seedbed for planting purposes, producers may have to apply a herbicide. A 10 to 12 ounce application of Roundup will take care of most of the small plants. However, in some fields the weeds are large and an application of Gramoxone Max (paraquat) may be needed. Remember that paraquat is a contact herbicide. Adequate carrier and pressure will be needed to get the desired coverage. By eliminating disease and insect hosts, you will have given yourself a better chance of avoiding insect and disease early in the season.
In 2004, Hessian fly caused wheat losses in several counties. This insect will not have a buildup of natural enemies for a couple of years. The buildup of predators is linked to the increased population of Hessian flies. The best recommendation is to use resistant varieties and to be careful when moving straw from areas with known infestations.
All of the bolls that will make an open boll with quality lint and yield are now on the plant. The bolls will need warm temperatures through September (all 30 days) for boll maturation to occur. Some fields are approaching maturity and will need to be terminated soon. Several cotton crop termination tests have already been arranged. From tests previously conducted with paraquat, an application of the product in the late evening provided the highest level of desiccation. For defoliation purposes the chemical needs to be applied in the middle of the day. To prepare for the questions you will receive concerning cotton harvest aids, please take time to review the harvest-aid recommendations for West Central Texas. This information is available from the following web address: http://sanangelo.tamu.edu/agronomy/harvest/index.htm.
The ideal temperature for cotton boll development is 95 degrees for the max air temperature of the day and a minimum air temperature of 65 degrees at night. This allows for cotton to develop 24 hours per day. The cotton plant goes into a survival mode once the temperature gets above 95 degrees and that loss of development time is critical to developing bolls. Also, development time is lost when the "cotton boll" temperature is below 60 degrees; development of lint and seed is stopped.
If the boll development is slow crops may not mature until the cooler part of the fall and the potential for freeze increases. Several studies have been conducted that have shown a benefit of applying Prep (Ethephon) three days before a freeze. The benefit of this 1.33 pint application has been the opening of bolls that remained closed in the untreated plots.
Due to the start-up cost charged by electric companies to cotton gins, producers may want to work with their gin to delay processing of seed cotton until enough modules are available to justify starting. Lint yield and quality can be preserved for a long period of time if the module is built correctly. The module needs to be packed firm with moisture content kept below 12 percent. It should look like a giant loaf of bread with a tarp securely attached. These modules need to be placed on a packed, well-drained area until they can be ginned. Several studies have shown that these well built and properly stored modules can maintain quality of lint and seed for six months.
How many cotton result demonstration tests do we have left? I would appreciate it if you would estimate the number of cotton samples that will need ginned. Once the total is determined, I can book the gin at Lubbock for either one or two days in November and/or December.
Sticky cotton is BAD! With the number of aphids that are present on cotton leaves, producers will need to keep a close watch on the developing cotton bolls. Before the first boll opens, aphid populations need to be reduced to less than five per leaf. With a 20 million bale cotton crop, buyers will not just discount sticky cotton--they will not buy it!
If everything continues progressing as it has, I will establish Harvest-Aid test plots in late-September and early-October. If you need materials for establishing test plots, please let me know as soon as possible.
In the near future you will start to see the impact of the recent rains. One observation will be the increased amount of cotton root rot. There are several fields that have already had 25 percent of the plants die. When temperatures increase across the area, the number of acres impacted will be obvious. You will have to look at the plants closely to see the next problem. That gap in fruit set was not caused by some insect infestation that went undetected. The gap of boll set was due to the cloud cover and carbohydrate stress that resulted. The one to four day old bolls were aborted by the plant. There is nothing that the producer can do about this. What needs to be watched closely is the plant's reaction to the reduced fruitload and the increased amount of soil moisture. If the plant growth is out of control, an application of Pix (mepiquat chloride) may be needed. The sooner it is applied, the less that will be needed to get the job done. Basically, you have to apply enough Pix to reach a concentration in the plant of approximately 10 parts per million to stop plant growth. The larger the plant, the more growth regulator needed.
This fall may provide a great opportunity to control perennial weeds. Soil moisture is favorable for growth, weeds have a minimal amount of dust on the leaves, and weeds have developed with minimal moisture and heat stress. If this describes your weeds, then an application of a herbicide should result in a high level of weed control.
On September 13, there will be a training conducted at Abilene for producers needing to obtain a Private Applicators License. For more details and to register for the meeting call Gary Bomar at (325) 672-6048.