Abnormally dry conditions return to Bootheel

Sunday, August 7, 2011
Mike Milam

When the drought broke in our area with the much higher rainfall that we experienced in March and April, I knew with our normal weather patterns that we could be in a rainfall deficit before the end of the cropping season.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor as of August 2, much of our prime cotton region in Missouri is now considered abnormally dry. Only the southern portions of Butler, Dunklin, and Pemiscot Counties are not affected by drought. However, even in these areas, the non-irrigated cotton is showing considerable moisture stress. This report can be found at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/. This report also shows how bad the drought levels are in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana. In the region that includes Texas and Oklahoma, 47 percent of the area is in the highest category-exceptional drought.

According to the USDA Cotton and Wool Outlook Report of July 12, U.S. abandoned acres is expected to be 30 percent. This compares with 2.5 percent last year. The planted acreage of cotton in 2011 was 25 percent higher than 2010, but with the abandoned acres the harvested acres are expected to be 10 percent less harvested acres than last year. Last year, the U.S. crop accounted for 41 percent of the total crop. This year, we will have only 41percent due to the drought. China and India will produce 57 percent. The ending of world and U.S. stocks are expected to increase due to higher production in other countries and a smaller demand in textiles because of the higher cotton prices.

In this same report, the Missouri projected acreage of cotton was expected to be 340,000 acres. This is a 10 percent higher acreage than last year, but less than the 360,000 acres projected in March. The delayed planting due to the flooding resulted in a loss of about 20,000 acres.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, August will have higher temperatures and an equal chance of above, below, or average rainfall. The three month forecast for August, September, and October is about the same.

According to the Missouri Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending, July 31, the topsoil moisture in 7 of the 9 crop districts was greater than 75 percent short and very short.ˇ Subsoil moisture supply was 22 percent very short, 37 percent short, 39 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.ˇCotton squaring and beyond was nearly complete, 8 days behind last year, but the same as normal.ˇ Cotton setting bolls and beyond was 74 percent, 9 days behind last year, and 5 days behind normal.ˇ Unaffected by dry weather due to irrigation, cotton condition improved 2 points from last week in the good category to 4 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.ˇDuring the past month, the Dunklin county FSA office had 2.18 inches of rainfall.

Rice development continued behind historic averages due to the late planting with only 10 percent headed, 18 days behind last year, and 2 weeks behind normal. ˇRice condition remained the same as last week at 3 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 49 percent good, and 22 percent excellent.ˇ

The condition of our corn crop for the Southeast Region is 6 percent very poor, 19 percent poor, 31 percent, fair, 37 percent good, and 7 percent excellent. Our region has sixty-eight percent of our corn at the dough stage or beyond. This compares with 80 percent at this time last year.

Although Southern peas are not one of the crops being reported on, I was in the Clarkton area last week and observed dry land peas that really needed a rain. The outlook of the non-irrigated peas is not good unless we get more rainfall.

One of our producer?s biggest concerns this season has been the resistant palmer pigweed. This weed under normal conditions can produce about 500,000 seeds per plant. So this has been a challenge. Earlier this week, I attended a Bayer CropScience program at the Delta Center?s Lee Farm called the ?Respect the Rotation? tour. We viewed areas that had been overrun with pigweeds last year that had been cleaned up using the Liberty-link trait and a combination of various preemerge and post emerge herbicides. Hoeing has made a comeback to getting rid of the plants not controlled by herbicides.

The solution is to use a wide variety of strategies including hoeing to get rid of the weeds. Start with a clean field, rotating crops and chemistries, and reducing the palmer pigweed seed bank. Since palmer pigweed seed can only survive for six years, reducing the number of seed will reduce future problems.

We are more fortunate than many other mid-south states with our crops this year. Producers are doing the best job that they can with dealing with resistance. We only have a couple more weeks to set bolls, so the weather at the end of the season could make a difference in the final outcome.

University of Missouri Extension programs are open to all

Dr. Michael R. Milam is an agronomy specialist and county program director with University of Missouri Extension in Dunklin County.

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