Now that another growing season is under way, cotton is once again the dominant crop in Wharton County.
Despite market prices improving for corn and grain sorghum, less is being produced of both this time around, according to Corrie Bowen, Wharton County Extension Agent.
“The corn crop has been looking really good, overall. Some fields that didn’t get fertilized on time due to the weather related delays throughout the fall and winter months may not have been looking as well, but for the most part, (prior to last week’s deluge) the corn was looking great,” Bowen said.
“The recent gains in the corn market prices have been extremely encouraging to our corn producers,” he added.
Despite rising corn prices, it’s estimated that Wharton County producers planted only 80 percent of the 2018 corn crop.
Corn acreage is down, and yields may decrease, too, if last week’s rainfall from a tropical disturbance created nitrogen leaching that in corn alone could create a loss of 10 bushels per acre on average.
On a high note, the grain sorghum crop is “looking great,” Bowen said.
“Problem is there’s just not a lot of grain sorghum acres out there (prices also improving). We may not even have 10,000 acres of sorghum this year,” he added.
Cotton is not without its struggles, though. Producers have experienced normal early season issues like wind damage, some replanting, fleahopper damage and grass competition.
It looks like all crops have stood up well to all of the rain, meaning no lodging.
“Plant breeders and our farmers do a great job selecting varieties that stand up well to the weather,” Bowen said.
Soybean plants tend to tolerate wet soils better, he said.
“That amount of rain (last week) certainly knocked off blooms. Producers will be very mindful of timely fungicide applications in the weeks to come should fields dry out enough to allow for ground applications; otherwise, aerial applications will be necessary,” he said.
Kate Harrell, integrated pest management Extension Agent for Wharton, Matagorda and Jackson counties, said she has seen some fleahoppers in cotton, and most places have been treated for fleahoppers at least once.
Harrell is just starting to scout for bollworms in fields that are blooming, and some cotton is just starting to bloom.
The good news is she hasn’t found any bollworms.
“I’ve not spent much time in sorghum, but we do have sugarcane aphids present in sorghum, but have heard no instances of them approaching economic threshold or needing treatment,” she said.