Early estimates indicated West Texas cotton farmers would plant as much as 60 percent of their acreage in XtendFlex cotton varieties. That estimate may have been low, says Peter Dotray, Texas AgriLife Extension weed and herbicides specialist, Lubbock.
“I think 70 percent could be closer,” Dotray says. “We expect to see a lot of dicamba (ExtendiMax, the new formulation from Monsanto) used.
“We’re just getting started,” he adds. “I sprayed for the first time last week, and farmers are just beginning to spray, but from what I’ve heard so far, they have been pleased with the result.”
He recalls that West Texas cotton farmers “moved into resistant weed problems pretty fast,” and had been seeing once-susceptible weeds survive herbicide applications. “After spraying (new formulation) dicamba, they are seeing weeds go down.”
Success, he says, depends on application timing and following the label. “I’ve heard about some farmers in other parts of the state planting into weedy fields and then spraying 10-inch to 12-inch weeds. Control has not been as good, and they are not pleased. But we have to be timely to be effective. The farmers who have sprayed on time have been pleased.”
He says a few farmers have expressed surprise at phytotoxicity from XtendiMax. “It will speckle cotton leaves a little, and some growers may be a little concerned.” It’s not surprising, he says.
Dotray says he’s heard no reports of drift issues, but cautions that the spray season has just begun.
“I think most of our growers started clean, planted in pretty clean ground.”
A SYSTEMS APPROACH
Most also are following a system that does not depend only on dicamba and Roundup for total weed control. “They are using a yellow, maybe a pre-emergence material. If folks started clean, weed control looks good.”
He adds that the issues with crop damage in the Mid-South are not evident so far in Texas. “Farmers have to look at the label, pay attention to nozzle selection, ground speed, wind, and buffers, among other precautions,” he says. “If we use the technology as we are supposed to, we think the outcome will be positive.”
Battling wind, however, has been worrisome. “It has been hot, dry, and windy,” he says. “We’ve seen some crop damage that looks like thrips, but we see no thrips.” Heat may be stressing young plants. Hail has also caused some damage, destroyed fields in some locations, and some fields look “just a little beat up.”
But weed control is starting out on a positive note with new technology going into the fields. Dotray says producers who use XtendiMax or Enlist Duo (new 2,4-D formulation) and follow the labels should be pleased with the outcome.