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Louisiana (E-Central): Thrips In Cotton, Diseases In Corn And A New Ride For Spraying Pigweed

Owen Taylor
From the staff at Agricultural Management Services, Inc.: Tim White, Walter Myers, Wil Miller, Matt Myers, Lydia Ellett, Roger Carter and Chase Skipper May 13, 2012

Louisiana (E-Central): Thrips In Cotton, Diseases In Corn And A New Ride For Spraying Pigweed

WEATHER – Much of the area received at least 0.5”-plus during the past few days, but there are still some fields or areas of fields that have yet to receive enough rainfall on which to plant. In some cases one end of the field is wet enough and the other not.

One morning we watched it rain hard for several minutes at the end of our drive, but only caught a drop or two at the shop, a distance of less than 300 ft. Therefore, we have witnessed some of these “localized” showers.

Quad-track CaseIH Tractor for spraying in plots.

Quad-track CaseIH Tractor for spraying in plots.

We need the rain, but we also need to run in the fields applying herbicides, especially where pigweeds are an issue.

The quad track Case (see photo)that we ordered in January has finally been put together. The tractor wasn’t the issue, it was the track manufacturer that took 60 days to build the tracks. And they cost more than the tractor.

And, I have already informed Owen Mize, our farm manager, that he cannot deer hunt out of it.

We are anxious to see how the tracks will hold up to our Louisiana clay, which is far different than the clay in Minnesota where these tracks are manufactured. The same brand tracks, Mattracks, have performed well on our 4-wheeler sprayer, but the frame on the Yamahas we run will not handle the torque that the tracks create. We hope this 85 hp Case can handle it.

We will keep you informed. And, anyone of our clients are welcomed to come view and drive the unit. We think there is a great need for this type of unit in our area. Especially during burndown, but also now when herbicide application timing is critical. And, it is set up for 38” rows.

Pads are 18” wide on back and 14” wide on front. We don’t know about mph yet, but in talking with someone who has been running these same tracks on a 100 hp John Deere, about 7 mph is tops. The tracks, of course, gear down the unit, but 7 mph is plenty fast enough if you could not be spraying otherwise. The unit will have a 60 ft boom complete with 300 gal tank attached.

DRIFT ISSUES – Just when we thought we were through drift issues, hundreds of acres of grain sorghum began showing glyphosate drift symptoms this past week or so.

  • Windy conditions the past few weeks have made it virtually impossible to apply any herbicides without fear of some drift.
  • Rice and grain sorghum are currently the most glyphosate-sensitive crops that readily show drift symptomology.
  • A little dab’l do ya. Doesn’t take much glyphosate to take out a rice or milo crop. If it doesn’t kill the crop, it will cause irreparable damage from which the crop cannot recover to make a viable yield. And, often, symptoms that can decrease yields in either crop may go unnoticed.
  • We are not weather experts, but have witnessed enough drift the past decades to know that the wind isn’t always read right. Often, especially in our land of ridge, slough, ridge, slough, treeline, etc., we get shifting winds that can change every quarter mile.
  • We have observed smoke from a burning tire blow due east while standing in a wind a quarter mile away that was blowing due west. All within a span of less than minute. So, burning tires tell the truth at that exact point, but not a quarter mile away.
  • We don’t have a solution to the problem other than to ask that every application be guided by common sense and that all possible steps be taken to diminish the risk of drift. Low drift tips plus drift-deterrent additives should be used when applying herbicides .
  • Remember: most insecticides do not work when applied with low drift tips. Sometimes two separate applications may be necessary. One applied with low drift tips and the other with hollow cone tips.

COTTON – Cotton acres have decreased further due to the extended dry spell we suffered in April and May. We are 95% planted, and now wet in most of the area, but it is too late to plant cotton for some.

  • Nearly 20% of cotton acres are being treated for thrips. And 5% for spider mites. Bidrin at 1 gal/40 acres controlled some populations of thrips. But for most fields, an application of Radiant was necessary due to the prominence of western flower thrips in cotton fields.
  • We are hoping the recent rainfall will give the cotton a boost to grow through thrips injury, but the cool temps are not helping.
  • Rainfall may help with our spider mite issues, but it will not offer control in all fields. The worst infestations are occurring in and around dying soybean plants in cotton. Mites are building on the bean plants and as they begin to die from applications of Staple LS or Envoke, spider mites are leaving the bean plants and rapidly infesting nearby cotton plants.
  • Radiant is our choice for insecticides for thrips in cotton. It costs plenty but offers the best control of all products currently available. And it manages Western flower thrips, whereas Bidrin and Orthene do not.
  • We do not want to treat, but the terminal buds of young cotton seedlings can be severely damaged by thrips, especially when conditions are not good for rapid new growth.
  • Prior to the rain event the past few days, the dry conditions did not promote good seedling cotton growth, therefore thrips applications were necessary.

This is not just a local issue. High thrips populations have been found throughout cotton fields in the Mid-South. Although it is not a guarantee, Radiant is less likely to flair a spider mite or an aphid problem, although it, along with dry windy conditions, caused us to treat many acres for spider mites last year.

SOYBEANS – Soybean planting is 85% complete. Most acreage left to plant will be behind wheat. Hopefully, all soybeans planted are treated with an insecticide and a fungicide. The insecticide is always needed. The fungicide is not necessarily needed if planting into ideal moisture with good conditions for emergence for 5 days after planting.

CORN – Southern Corn Rust and Northern Corn Leaf Blight were both appearing in many corn fields the past few weeks. We are recommending fungicides be applied to fields where either is present and advancing. Thus far we have recommended treating corn fields in southern Tensas and in northern Avoyelles Parishes.

  • Many corn farmers have become complacent about scouting their corn due to lack of insect or disease issues the past decade. But, if Southern Corn Rust sneaks upon those farmers, crying towels will be needed at harvest. It is truly one disease that can wipe out a corn crop.
  • And once a farmer gets behind in treating for it, there is little opportunity to catch up. Several years ago, some irrigated fields that were hit with Southern Corn rust harvested 25 bu/ac or less. It can be devastating.
  • Northern Corn Leaf Blight has been reported by many consultants who are scouting corn. We know it is also in the area and can cause significant yield losses.
  • The only way to know if your corn has it is to scout it. Not every variety has it and the same variety may have it in one field and not the other.
  • Both diseases are easy to detect when scouted.

We have not observed any insect issues yet in corn, but with corn now tasseling we expect some stink bugs to begin moving into corn fields to feed on young ears. The worst injury can occur as the ears are forming and either just prior to silking or within a few days thereafter.

GRAIN SORGHUM – GS being injured more by man than disease or insects. Glyphosate drift has been observed on several thousand acres of GS. Some of this damaged GS is in the Ballina-Frogmore area. Anthracnose is present in moderate levels on GS in southern Catahoula and northern Avoyelles. We will certainly be recommending a fungicide application to GS to fields in those areas.

RICE – None of our clients planted rice this year, therefore we will not be reporting on rice unless we pick up on some second-hand information in our area.

WHEAT – A small percentage of wheat has been harvested. Rain has delayed many wheat farmers from initiating harvest. Wheat in a high yield program is yielding 60 bu/ac or more. However, wheat in low=-lying clay soils is yielding 50 bu/ac. Poor stands and lack of tillering reduced yields.


Owen Taylor
From the staff at Agricultural Management Services, Inc.: Tim White, Walter Myers, Wil Miller, Matt Myers, Lydia Ellett, Roger Carter and Chase Skipper May 13, 2012