Skip to Content

Whitefly-transmitted viruses in vegetable crops

Sep 26, 2018 | Written by                                                                                           We are currently detecting a variety of whitefly-vectored viral diseases in vegetable crops. The two of greatest concern are cucurbit leaf crumple virus and tomato yellow leaf curl virus. Both have been detected in multiple counties in southern Georgia but are generally at low levels to date; unfortunately, this could change rapidly. Current levels of virus infection are similar to late spring (in normal years) but with the obvious difference of large whitefly populations to spread these viruses. The only good news with this is that infection is occurring much later in the season than the last two years and will have less impact on overall yield.

In test on station, I noted obvious leaf crumple virus in less than 5 percent of young squash plants but terminal growth with questionable symptoms was likely in the 25 to 50 percent range. Again, with the relatively high whitefly population we have in Tifton, even a low level of virus can spread rapidly.

Tomato yellow leaf curl virus has also been detected, but generally at lower levels (with the exception of one field reported to be near 100 percent). Again, under conditions with high whitefly populations, any whitefly-vectored virus can spread rapidly.

Cotton Outlook 2018

Download the PDF version of this newsletter.

In 2018, Georgia’s farmers planted 1.43 million acres of cotton, up 150,000 acres from 2017. The average cotton yield is forecast at 946 pounds per acre. Production is forecast at 2.8 million bales, which would be the second highest on record. There are two major contributing factors to the increase in cotton acres in Georgia. First, the relatively high cotton price in 2018, especially during planting season, makes cotton more competitive with other row crops. Second, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 authorized seed cotton as a covered commodity and eliminated generic base and thus the eligibility for payments when planting other covered commodities on farms with generic base.

U.S. cotton planted acreage is 14.04 million, up 1.43 million from 2017, which is the highest planted acres since in 2011. The 2018 U.S. upland cotton is forecasted at 18.9 million bales, down 1.31 million bales from 2017. The reduction in production is largely due to the severe drought conditions in Texas. Even though Texas planting acres increased by 12 percent, the production level reduced by 30 percent from 2017. The forecasted production number might be further negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence on North and South Carolina.

World cotton use or demand has improved significantly in recent years and currently forecast at a record level. Even though U.S. cotton faces an additional 25 percent increase in tariffs on cotton exports to China due to the on-going trade dispute between U.S. and China, U.S. cotton exports are doing very well and are expected to continue to be strong for the 2018-2019 crop year. Exports are currently forecasted to be 15.7 million bales for the 2018 – 2019 crop year, which would be the second highest on record.

The U.S. ending stocks for the 2018 – 2019 crop year are expected to increase to 4.7 million bales. The U.S. cotton industry has benefited from the growth in mill use in other countries. If U.S. sales of cotton into China decline as a result of a Chinese tariff, it is possible that sales to mills in other countries could increase to offset part of the decline in China. A Chinese tariff on U.S. raw cotton could continue to stimulate Chinese imports of duty-free yarn from Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Indian subcontinent. The demand for higher-quality U.S. cotton in those markets could continue to expand. Thus, the impact of a bilateral Chinese tariff on U.S. cotton may lead to a reshuffling or rerouting of, rather than a reduction in, U.S. cotton exports.

China is the world’s largest user of cotton but now the world’s third-largest cotton importer behind Bangladesh and Vietnam. Starting in 2011, the Chinese price support policy had resulted in buildup of ending stocks. In 2014, the Chinese cotton policy shifted from price supports and building government reserves to paying growers with direct cash payments in order to reduce the government cotton reserve. China’s ending stocks for the 2018 – 2019 will continue to decrease and are forecasted to total 29.9 million bales. For 2018, China has approved 800,000 tonnes of additional cotton import quota, which is in addition to the annual 894,000 tonnes of low tariff rate quota that China issues as part of its commitments to the World Trade Organization. This is the first time that China has issued any additional quota since 2013.

Futures prices (Dec 18) for the 2018 crop are currently at or around 82 cents per pound. We have been seeing favorable cotton prices this year, the cash prices for the current calendar year of 2018 ranges from low of 74.60 to high of 94.21 cents per pound. USDA is forecasting the marketing year average price for the 2018 – 2019 crop year to range from 70 to 80 cents per pound, compared to the 2017 – 2018 crop year average of 68 cents per pound.

Good luck and let us know if we can help,

Yangxuan Liu and Don Shurley

Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

University of Georgia

Fall gardens need sun, good soil, Georgia-friendly plants

By Beverly Adams for CAES News

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are falling, and home gardeners are beginning to plan their fall vegetables.

If you’re new to food gardening, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers tips that should lead to a successful fall harvest.

Establish the garden in a location that receives full sunlight, from six to eight hours per day.

Prepare the soil before planting based on soil test recommendations. A laboratory soil test takes the guesswork out of determining whether the soil needs fertilizer or lime to nourish your fall garden crops.

To have your soil tested, visit the Extension website for directions on taking soil samples. Then bring your dry soil sample to your local Extension office with the $10 testing fee.

Plant fall vegetables on schedule and use varieties that are recommended for Georgia. For a list of recommended cultivars and planting dates, refer to UGA Extension Circular 963, “Vegetable Gardening in Georgia,” at extension.uga.edu/publications.

Control weeds, pest insects and diseases.

When Mother Nature does not supply rainfall, water your garden thoroughly at soil level.

And, as always, if you have any questions, contact your local Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 for advice.

Leafy vegetables thrive in Georgia fall gardens

By Beverly Adams for CAES News

Just the other day I received an email from a Forsyth County resident about a cucumber plant that was in decline. He wanted to know what to do to get it back to “normal.” My response was, “There is nothing to do. It’s the end of the season for that cucumber plant, so pull it up and start thinking about a fall garden.”

As summer vegetables stop producing, it’s time to start planning and preparing fall gardens. One advantage of gardening in the fall is cooler temperatures that make gardening more pleasant.

Another advantage is that most fall vegetables are leafy, green plants that don’t require pollinators to produce the parts we eat. Gardeners can use low-tunnel hoop houses to protect their plants from pests and to capture a few more growing days out of the fall season.

In addition to excluding pests, covering hoop houses in shade cloth blocks out some of the heat from the sun, allowing us to plant cool season vegetables earlier. Later in the season, the shade cloth traps heat from the earth inside the hoop house and can raise the temperature around the plants by a few degrees. Some cool-season vegetables can overwinter in the garden for an early spring harvest.

Because they take longer to mature, some fall vegetables are best purchased as transplants. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Vegetables that can be planted as seeds include beets, bunching onions, carrots, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension recommends this list of cultivars of cool season vegetables that do well in Georgia:

Broccoli – ‘Marathon’, ‘Packman’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Premium Crop’, ‘Bravo’, ‘Decathlon’

Cabbage – ‘Blue Dynasty’, ‘Bravo’, ‘Early Round Dutch’, ‘Rio Verde’, ‘Green Jewel’

Carrot – ‘Chantenay’, ‘Scarlet Nantes’, ‘Sweetbites’, ‘Sweet Delight’

Cauliflower – ‘Absolute’, ‘Early Snowball’, ‘Graffiti’, ‘White Magic’, ‘Symphony’

Collard greens – ‘Blue Max’, ‘Georgia Southern’, ‘Hevi-Crop’

Kale – ‘Vates’, ‘Dwarf Siberian’, ‘Blue Armor’, ‘Blue Knight’

Lettuce – ‘Butterhead’, ‘Romaine’, ‘Buttercrunch’

Mustard greens – ‘Florida Broadleaf’, ‘Southern Giant Curled’, ‘Red Giant’, ‘Savannah’

Onion, green – ‘White Portugal’

Onion, dry bulb – ‘Burgundy’, ‘Excel’, ‘Grano’, ‘Red Creole’, ‘Savannah Sweet’

Radish – ‘Cherry Bell’, ‘Scarlet Globe’, ‘Champion’

Spinach – ‘Melody’, ‘Winter Bloomsdale’

For more information about planning your vegetable garden at any time of year, see UGA Extension Circular 943, “Vegetable Garden Calendar,” at extension.uga.edu/publications.

Whitefly Pressure in Late Planted Cotton

Whitefly pressure a concern for cotton growers with late planted crop

By Clint Thompson

Georgia cotton farmers who planted their crop late this year need to be mindful of potential whitefly pressure, according to Phillip Roberts, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension entomologist.

Because whiteflies prefer green, lush cotton over cotton that is near maturity, most of the cotton that was planted early in April and May avoided whitefly problems. However, Roberts has observed whiteflies on late-planted cotton, or cotton planted in June.

“Over time, whiteflies have adapted to infest plants which will remain green or be a suitable host for the insects to complete a generation,” Roberts said. “It takes between 15 to 20 days for a whitefly to complete development on a cotton plant once an egg has been laid. Also, the nutritional value may be higher on late-planted cotton.”

Scouting remains the best course of action against whiteflies, sucking insects that feed on the underside of leaves and excrete a sugary substance called “honeydew” that serves as a host for sooty mold fungus. The accumulation of honeydew and sooty mold leads to quality problems on open cotton bolls. When uncontrolled, whiteflies can reduce cotton yields and affect cotton quality.

“(Immature whiteflies) are on the underside of the leaves and excrete honeydew, which is a sticky, sugary solution. This can be a serious issue in terms of fiber quality or the spinnability of fibers at mills,” Roberts said.

Growers need to be timely with their insecticide applications to avoid an outbreak. However, UGA Extension encourages growers to conserve beneficial insects, only applying insecticides when infestations are observed.

According to Roberts, approximately 30 percent of Georgia’s cotton crop, or about 435,000 acres, were planted in June this year.

Late-planted cotton still has a couple of months left in the field before harvest. Whiteflies remain a potential threat to cotton until all the leaves have dropped from the plant, Roberts said.

“From a yield standpoint, cotton becomes less susceptible to yield loss the more mature it is and much of the cotton planted in April and early May has reached that stage. June-planted cotton remains susceptible to yield loss,” he said.

Compared to the 2017 cotton crop, whiteflies had been largely undetected for most of the summer. However, during late August and early September, numbers have increased to the point where producers need to be on alert during the final months of the growing season.

“Only a small percentage of cotton in Georgia has required treatment to date, but we still have a long way to go with the lateness of this crop. Most acres that have required treatment so far were planted in June,” Roberts said. “We learned a lot of hard lessons with whiteflies in 2017, and it is imperative that control measures are applied in a timely manner.

Once established, whitefly populations are very difficult to control and can easily reach outbreak levels in a field. Control costs are higher if farmers are late with initial control measures.

For more information about Georgia’s cotton crop, see www.ugacotton.com.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.

Cattle Clinic at Alapaha Beef Unit

The Tift County Cattlemen’s Association would like to invite you to our “Cattle Clinic” on Saturday September 22nd at the Alapaha Beef Unit. This a free clinic with breakfast and lunch provided. Topics to be covered are Winter Supplements, Crossbreeding & Bull Selection, BQA & Weaning, Winter Grazing, and GCA Update.  If you have any questions please contact Andy Dunn (information is on flyer) or myself. If you would like to come please RSVP so we can have an accurate breakfast and lunch count.

 

Thank you and hope to see you on the 22nd!

 

 

Justin Hand

Tift County ANR/4H Agent

UGA Extension

 

1468 Carpenter Road South  I  Tifton, GA  31793

229-391-7980  Office  I  229-391-7999  Fax  I  229-392-0231  Mobile

jhand@uga.edu  I  www.ugaextension.com/tift

 

UGA Cotton Team Newsletter September, 2018

Cotton Defoliation Considerations for 2018 (Freeman and Whitaker)

Most of our early planted cotton is quickly approaching (and has approached in some areas) time for defoliation. Cotton defoliation tends to be one of the most important aspects of cotton production each year. Timing and product selection are two of the more critical components regarding defoliation and confusion occurs not only by the thousands of tank mix concoctions but also the differences in personalities of growers with some wanting to pull the trigger too early and some wanting to wait on the very last boll to crack.

Timing of cotton defoliant application can be determined in many ways. However, the methods which we feel are most beneficial involve monitoring boll opening.  The cotton plant has bolls of different ages and those bolls will typically open in the order in which they were set on the plant (such that bolls on the bottom of the plant will open before those on the top of the plant).  Research in Georgia has clearly shown defoliation application should be made when 60 to 75% of the bolls on the plant are open.  Whether one should lean towards 60 or 75% depends upon how uniform the crop is, as a plant that grown under optimum conditions can often be defoliated earlier than one that has gone through periods of stress.  In any situation, it is almost always most profitable to defoliate the crop when the crop reaches 75% open boll.

The process of actually determining open boll percentages can be quite time consuming considering that multiple plants in each field should be assessed (and averaged) and this process should be conducted for each field separately.  Therefore, there is another method to determine proper defoliation timing which is much quicker and easier.  This process involves counting the number of main-stem nodes between the uppermost first position cracked boll and the uppermost first position boll we want to harvest (in some cases there are late set bolls which will not have time to mature that are set in the top of the canopy).  With this method in Georgia we consider it is most profitable to defoliate the crop when it reaches 3 to 4 nodes above cracked boll (NACB).

Another method, which can be used in conjunction with determining open boll % and counting NACB is the “sharp knife technique.”  This method involves using a knife to cut the bolls in half so that you can see the cross section. A harvestable boll should have lint that strings out as you cut it and the cotton seed should have a darkened seed coat with developed cotelydons.  When we say “harvestable” we mean that the boll should be able to be opened with the use of an ethephon product.  In some cases, we use this method to determine the uppermost harvestable boll when figuring NACB.

In general, the best way to determine proper defoliation timing is to employ a combination of these methods.  A proper timing of defoliation is the first step to a successful harvest.  We should point out that most producers could defoliate their crop earlier than they typically do.  In Georgia, we have always had to balance peanut digging in with cotton harvest and cotton is typically much more forgiving than peanut when it comes to harvest timing.   However, we should make an effort to defoliate the crop when it is ready, as delays in defoliation applications can turn into lost profit.  Specifically, delays in defoliation relate into delays in harvest and those delays often turn into lost yield and fiber quality.

Defoliation of a cotton plant can impact it in four ways.  We consider those four functions to be (1) removal of mature leaves, (2) removal of juvenile leaves and plant tissue, (3) preventing regrowth of new leaves after defoliant application and prior to harvest, and (4) opening bolls.  A particular cotton crop may need a defoliant application to impact one or more, typically all four, of these functions.  Since one product is not effective on all of these functions, tank mixtures of products are applied to enhance the overall effect of the application.    Product selection and application rates are determined by the condition of the crop (which functions need to happen) and condition of the environment (temperature, rainfall forecast, soil fertility, etc.).

Additional Comments:

  • Application water volume and pressure greatly impact overall performance. Often, these two factors are as if not more important than choosing which products and what rates to utilize.  One should apply at least 15 GPA when using ground rigs (the more the better, 20 GPA is better than 15 and 25 is better than 20, etc.) and as much water volume as possible with aerial applications.  Aerial applications can be extremely effective when products are applied such that spray is blown into the canopy.
  • Follow product labels concerning the addition of additives. Additives may aid in uptake of some hormonal defoliants but may also increase the chances of leaf desiccation when combined with others especially with high temperatures. In general, when tribufos (Def) is used in the mixture, additives are not needed to improve efficacy.
  • Rainfastness is always a concern with all products however thidiazuron requires a 24 hour rainfree period. However, when thidiazuron is used with other products (especially when mixed with tribufos) the actual rain-free period is reduced. If rainfall occurs before the rain-free period is reached, we suggest that you wait about 7 days and evaluate effectiveness and then make decisions on follow-up applications.

A few comments on cotton defoliation in 2018 with a limited supply of Thidiazuron

Many around the state are concerned about the limited availability of thidiazuron and how that will affect cotton defoliation in 2018. Thidiazuron (TDZ) is a key component of many cotton defoliation tank mix and is excellent at preventing regrowth after defoliation. Below are our thoughts and suggestions on the issue.

  • First, go ahead and make plans with regards TDZ for this growing season. In general we vary rates of TDZ based on weather, potential for regrowth and amount of juvenile tissue present at defoliation.    If one were to use the three-way on their entire crop, they could budget around 2.5 to 3.0 oz of TDZ per acre of cotton and vary rates in particular situations.  With a significant portion of the state’s crop being planted after June 1, a lot of our cotton will be defoliated when conditions are cool enough where regrowth will be less of an issue.
  • Logistics – Be timely when defoliating and harvesting. Try to defoliate only what you will be able to harvest quickly and try not to leave cotton in the field for extended periods of time which will allow for regrowth to occur. Without TDZ, regrowth will certainly be much more of an issue in some cases and harvesting quicker after defoliation can limit the impact of regrowth and cotton quality.
  • Use proper rate for conditions – since TDZ does not cause leaf desiccation, producers can use higher rates in some places compared to others and get more out of the TDZ we have. Typically, we would suggest using more early during the defoliation season and where more green tissue is present (3 to 4 oz/A on the high end and 1.5 to 2.5 on the low end).  When temperatures drop into the lower 60’s at night for several consecutive days the overall effectiveness of TDZ is limited and we could drop it out of the three-way mix.
  • Calibrating equipment and use proper GPAs – Make sure your equipment calibration is correct. You may be applying more product than you think. Be sure to use as much water and pressure as possible to get more out of the TDZ that you apply. Defoliants are typically not mobile in the plant and to prevent regrowth TDZ should actually hit the part of the plant where regrowth occurs.
  • The three-way is our typical standard for cotton defoliation in Georgia. If TDZ becomes unavailable, the next most effective option is usually ethephon and “Ginstar” (a pre-mix of thidiazuron + diuron).  This application can be an extremely comparable option in most situations.
  • Lower rates for lower regrowth potential – If all else fails and you cannot get the full rates of needed product, you should evaluate individual fields for their potential for regrowth. There are many factors that contribute to juvenile regrowth after defoliation but fields that are at the highest risk would be high fertility fields that experienced a premature cutout due to drought stress followed by good soil moisture and warm weather at the time of defoliation and after. These crops still have some “horsepower” left and will likely need a full rate. Fields that are at the lowest risk for regrowth are fields that have a heavy boll load, used all of its available nitrogen, and have begun naturally senescing leaves. These are fields that may only require a reduced rate of TDZ.
  • So, in general our suggestions are:
    • Use the TDZ you have wisely, if regrowth potential is low then consider rates between 1.5 to 2.0 oz/A, if regrowth is expected and there is a lot of juvenile tissue is present consider higher rates between 3.0 to 4.0 oz/A
    • If no TDZ is available, mixtures of ethephon + Ginstar (TDZ + diuron) can be very effective at removing juvenile tissue and preventing regrowth. An 8 oz/A rate of the Ginstar products has 2.0 oz of TDZ (a 4 lb ai/A TDZ product) and 1.0 oz of diuron (4 lb ai/A diuron product)
    • If TDZ isn’t available and Ginstar products are not used, be aware that regrowth can be more troublesome and harvest as timely as possible.
    • If no TDZ is available and regrowth potential is lower, then the mixture of ethephon + tribufos (Folex) can be very effective.
    • Mixtures of ethephon + PPO herbicides (ET, Aim, Display, etc.) can also  be effective.  However, these mixtures are sometimes less consistent than mixtures of ethephon + tribufos (Folex) and in general are more consistent later in the defoliation window.

Terminating Insecticide Applications (Phillip Roberts)

 The decision to terminate insect controls can be challenging in some fields but a few basic considerations will assist in that decision.  When evaluating a field a grower must first identify the last boll population which will significantly contribute to yield (bolls which you plan to harvest).  In some situations the last population of bolls which you will harvest is easy to see (i.e. cotton which is loaded and cutout).  In others, such as late planted cotton, the last population of bolls you will harvest will be determined by weather factors (the last bloom you expect to open and harvest based on heat unit accumulation).  Once the last boll population is determined the boll development or approximate boll age should be estimated.  Depending on the insect pest, bolls are relatively safe from attack at varying stages of boll development.

Cooler temperatures will slow plant development and subsequent boll age values may increase in such environments.  It is assumed that the field is relatively insect pest free when the decision to terminate insecticide applications for a pest is made.

Late Season Management Considerations for Diseases and Nematodes (Bob Kemerait)

Though not over yet, it will not be too much longer until pickers are in the field and modules and round-bales fill the gin yards.  Diseases and nematodes have been much more of a problem in 2018 than in any other year that I can remember.  This was and continues to be, in large part, due to the frequent rain events and wet weather throughout much of the season.  Spread of fungal and bacterial diseases are favored by such.

There are seven significant disease/nematode conditions present in Georgia’s cotton fields now and while there is not much growers can do or need to do about it now, still they should pay attention so as to make the best management decisions in 2019.

  1. Stemphylium leaf spot is present in many fields and is identified as small-to-moderate sized lesions, often encircled by a dark, purple ring, on leaves showing signs of nutrient (potassium) deficiency.  Stemphylium only occurs in conjunction with a potassium deficiency in the plant and can lead to rapid defoliation and significant yield loss.  Stemphylium leaf spot is a very important problem in the state and is likely overlooked as growers have either become too familiar with it or do not think that there is much that can be done.  Stemphylium leaf spot typically occurs in the same areas of a field year after year- sandier areas, sometimes infected with nematodes.  Grower should take special steps to manage soil fertility (and nematodes) to reduce losses to this disease.
  2. Target spot has been especially widespread this season because of extended periods of wet weather. As I have often said, use of fungicides is not always profitable if the level of target spot is low because of hot and dry conditions.  However, I believe most growers who protected their cotton crop with fungicides in 2018 will see some benefit in doing do.  We should have some interesting data to share with the growers during the winter meeting season.
  3. Areolate mildew has been problematic again for the second year in a row across a large section of the cotton production region of Georgia. I am not really sure why that is, but suspect that the fungus successfully survived in crop debris from last year and was brought on again by the rainy season.  I am hoping that this disease does not become an every-year occurrence and problem for our cotton producers.  We should have some data to share on control and yield after use of fungicides in the upcoming winter meeting season.
  4. Bacterial blight became established in some fields very early in the season and I had expected it to be a major problem. Statewide, bacterial blight has been a very minor issue in 2018, demonstrating that the development and spread of a disease can be difficult to predict.  Growers are reminded to be careful in their selection of varieties for 2019 as resistant varieties are THE most important measure for managing this disease.
  5. Fungal boll rots are likely to be quite severe in the 2018 season, especially in fields with excessive, rank growth. In some situations, limited defoliation from leaf diseases could actually be a good thing by opening up the canopy and allowing airflow to reduce humidity and dry the bolls.  Fungicides are not an effective management tool for control of boll rot.
  6. Fusarium wilt is becoming an increasing problem in Georgia’s cotton fields. I don’t know if this is because the problem is spreading or simply because growers are paying greater attention to it.  Nonetheless, at this point Fusarium wilt can ONLY be managed in our fields by managing the parasitic nematodes associated with it, often by treating the field with a nematicide.  Again, we should have some excellent data to share after this field season.
  7. Nematodes in general (root-knot, reniform, sting and lance) are a significant problem in our cotton fields. Growers are encouraged to take the time after harvest and before cold weather hits to take soil samples from areas of poor growth in order to determine if nematodes are indeed a problem.

Taking stock of disease and nematode issues at the end of the 2018 season should help growers to make effective management decisions for 2019.

Gin Talk (Kane Stains)

 As summer winds down, the advent of fall, Dawgs football, and harvest-time rapidly approaches.  In just a few short days or weeks, rural Georgia roads will be inundated with cotton pickers, module trucks, and various other harvest-related machinery.  Before we know it, all of the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into this year’s cotton crop will culminate in a string of 500 lb. bales.  Throughout the growing season, farmers and managers have labored over their crop, weighing every management decision against the ultimate bottom line.  After all, farming and especially cotton farming is the ultimate game of dollars and cents; some would argue that it’s more cents than dollars.  One of the final management decisions that one can make is to ensure that once the cotton is defoliated and ready for harvest, it arrives at the gin free of any contamination.

As most are aware, global cotton buyers frown upon receiving contaminated cotton; as they should.  Most often, one’s mind immediately gravitates to plastic products when discussing cotton contamination.  Of the leading contaminants plastic certainly shows up most often, but cotton contamination is technically any substance in the bale other than ginned cotton lint.  Items such as oil, grease, red shop rags, wrenches, chains, cotton string or rope, or the occasional extension ladder have all found their way into harvested seed cotton and some even making it as far as the bale press.  Most frequently, yellow module wrap and black horticultural plastic take the “wrap” (no pun intended) for cotton contamination.  However, the occurrence of plastic shopping bags found in post-harvest seed cotton is most certainly on the rise.

The problem with plastic contamination is exponentially magnified once the contaminated cotton enters the gin plant.  As the seed cotton flows through the system, plastic and other contaminants may become lodged in various nooks and crannies of the machines.  Once the contamination reaches the gin stand, thousands of sharp saw teeth grind it into miniscule pieces, thus rendering it nearly impossible to remove at the gin level.  This scenario usually creates a two-fold problem because the plastic can remain lodged until a later time, during which another grower’s (potentially contamination-free) cotton is being ginned and thus becomes contaminated.  With the use of Bale ID Tags, contaminated cotton can be traced back to the individual farm that produced it.  Unfortunately, someone could potentially pay the price for another’s negligence.  As a side note, your local cotton gins are doing everything in their power to detect and remove contamination as soon as the module arrives on their yard but they need the help of growers, managers, consultants, and farm staff to ensure that the problem is minimized.

The moral of the story is that Georgia has developed a reputation for producing, ginning, and shipping extremely high levels of superior quality and contamination-free cotton.  As you’re riding the farm roads and scouting your crops, or as you’re spending those countless hours aboard a cotton picker, I encourage you to take the time to stop and remove any items that may have found themselves in a cotton field.  Whether it’s yours or your neighbor’s, taking the time to remove that “dollar-store” bag from the turn rows will pay dividends in the long run for us as an industry.  If Smoky Bear were to advocate for cotton, he’d say “Only You Can Prevent Cotton Contamination.”  Safe harvest to all!

 Important Dates:

 Field Days:

Tifton – Cotton and Peanut Field Day – September 5th

For more information on any of the discussed topics please contact your local UGA Extension Agent

Scab and the Cost of Pecan Production in 2018

By Lenny Wells UGA Pecan Specialist. If nothing else, 2018 has been a wet year. As far as nut scab is concerned, the frequency of rainfall really starts to matter in June and its importance continues on through the rest of the season until shell hardening occurs (or shortly after shell hardening if you grow a scab susceptible variety). During years in which we get frequent rains, we have to spray—a lot in some cases—to control scab. This quickly cuts into profit potential.

A quick check of the UGA Weather station in Albany shows 9 days of significant rainfall (0.1″ or more) in June, 11 days in July, and 13 days in August. Often the rain fell in successive days or with no more than 2 or 3 days between. But even on those days when we didn’t get a significant rainfall event, most areas got some light rain, often late in the evening which would keep the nuts wet all night. Conditions like this make the battle with scab a nightmare for certain varieties, causing most growers to end up spraying at least 14-16 times to have any hope of keeping scab susceptible nuts clean.

We have had a good crop load this year on many varieties, most notably Stuart. Desirable had a heavy drop in most areas. Scab control overall was pretty good considering the pressure we were under but even if growers are doing all they can to keep it at bay, scab often wins the war in this situation. And that is the case this year. I have seen more scab out there as I travel around the state than I have seen since perhaps 2003, one of the wettest years we have encountered. Without question, scab is going to take a fair amount of the Desirable crop.

Surprisingly, we are also seeing more scab on Stuart than we have seen before. In fact, I have talked to a number of growers all over the state who have both Desirable and Stuart in the same orchard and are seeing more scab on Stuart than Desirable under the same spray program. This is very concerning and Dr. Tim Brenneman is currently working to try to get a handle on what is going on there.

All of this brings to mind the elephant in the room. The trade issues with China understandably make a lot of growers nervous because it really makes you think about how much money you have invested in this crop and most growers have had to put much more into it than they had hoped. So, just how much does it cost to grow this crop?

At 2015 variable production costs, we were looking at $1628 per acre to grow pecans with 16 sprays. That puts the break even price for a yield of 1000 lbs per acre at around $1.63/lb and you would still have to subtract your assessments from that. Since chemical costs have gone up slightly, I think its safe to say the variable cost this year for 16 sprays is up to $1800/acre, which makes $1.80 the break even price at 1000 lbs/acre. None of this considers fixed prices in the equation. If a grower still has land and equipment to pay for, even $1.80/lb won’t cut it.

Based on USDA statistics, the average price obtained by Georgia pecan growers across all varieties from 2015-2017 was $2.35/lb. Yes, pecan prices for growers have been profitable in recent years but not lavishly so. For years before the China market took off, I heard shellers saying they needed growers to plant more acreage to increase the supply and with the new marketing order in place to help develop the domestic market, the increased acreage will be a necessity for a consistent supply. But, it has only been recently with the improved prices that growers have been able to afford the considerable cost ($2200/acre) of planting more orchards to increase pecan acreage. At the same time, the entire industry has grown, thrived, united, and garnered more attention than it ever has. If we go back to $1.50 per lb nuts, it won’t be long until we are right back in the same boat we were in 12-15 years ago, if not worse off.

We all know that in the face of the current trade situation with China, we will likely see lower prices this year than we have been seeing. Everyone I have talked to says China wants the nuts, we just have to figure out how to get the pecans to them. In addition we have heard presentations in various meetings over the last couple of years that domestic consumption is on the rise. So, demand for pecans is out there.

When prices fluctuate from one extreme to another, its impossible for an industry to thrive. I don’t know what things are like on the sheller/buyer side of the pecan industry but I do know that with the current cost of production, we can’t grow quality pecans for much less than $2.00/lb and survive.

To be certain, this will be a year in which the quality of your crop will bring the best price possible.

Hay Quality 2018

UGA Extension Forage Scientist Dr. Dennis Hancock is encouraging cattlemen and producers to sample their hay and baleage to assess the nutritive value of it. This is a little from Dr. Hancock:

Earlier this afternoon, I asked Dr. Saha at the Feed and Environmental Water Lab to summarize the samples received from this growing season so far (April 1-current). He responded quickly and provided the attached summary.

Copy of NIRStats_2018 Growing Season

If you compare the values to the means shown in the long-term summary found in Figure 11 of the “Understanding and Improving Forage Quality” Extension Bulletin, you will see that the average values from 2018 compare favorably to these long-term data. BUT (and I strongly emphasize this BUT), there is tremendous variability this year. He kindly provided the ranges in values for these forage categories, as well as the standard deviation. These summary statistics alert us to the real risks out there: There are many samples that are extremely low quality. For reference, wheat straw generally has a TDN value of ~45% or less. Note the range in the quality on some of these samples.

The final column in the attached is one that I calculated which is the coefficient of variation (standard deviation as a percent of the mean). Normally, we see a CV of ~10%. This year, the we have a LOOOOTTTTT more variability. Some categories are showing as much as 38% CV!

So, please, please, please!!! Encourage your producers to test their hay. Hay testing is almost always economical, but it may just help the producer prevent the death of some of their livestock.

 

Peanut Maturity Testing 2018

It won’t be long before peanut harvesting will begin. Our office will be providing peanut hull scraping for any peanut grower.  When picking samples, take 5 or 6 adjacent plants from two or three spots in the field.  If the field changes soil types or has some dry land spots, then separate samples should be taken. A sample needs to have 200 pods to show a good representation. Call the office if you have any questions.

pnutmaturity board