Stink bugs are active on a wider basis, and more cotton is in mid bloom, making scouting and timely treatments that much more important.
Aphids are hitting treatment levels in some areas but are raising little concern in others. The fungus apparently is present in places, but no significant crashes were reported.
Bollworm moth flights are taking shape in more areas, with indications that movement could be heavy.
Rainfall in the last week has helped bring along cotton in portions of the lower Southeast, but North Carolina and Virginia mostly missed the big amounts, and need a wetter pattern — and soon. See the latest Palmer Drought Index map.
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Rusty Harris, Worth County Extension Agent, Sylvester, Ga.: "Stink bug sprays have started, and we’ve got a pretty good aphid population that still hasn’t crashed. I think the fungus is here, but they’re lingering on. I got a call from a grower today (7/12) who wanted to spray and probably did, although we generally don’t see an economic return in Georgia. Some plant bugs are still showing up in cotton. Spider mites have been spotty in cotton and peanuts, so we’ve got to be judicious with our use of pyrethroids and avoid flaring them. The crop looks fairly good where we’ve had rain, but rain has been spotty. Some areas are extremely dry, to the point that we’ll be in a dire situation if that cotton doesn’t get rain soon. Our oldest is in the third to fourth week of bloom."
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: "We’re getting more reports of aphids building in cotton. They’ve been slow to increase but still have reached treatable levels in some fields. While we were doing our beat sheets last week, I noticed in some of the older cotton that immature brown stink bugs were turning up where we had adult brown stink bugs earlier. So, they’ve been there long enough to turn over a generation. Most plant bug population right now (7/12) are in immature forms, coming off the June adults. Fields that were sprayed for bugs appear to be pretty clean, but others have populations now that are at or will shortly be at damaging levels, so we’re really close to making applications to clean up the bug complex on everything. We’re still not seeing signs of the huge tobacco budworm flight that was underway in southwest Georgia 2 weeks ago. It’s amazing how fast budworm activity drops off as you travel 2 counties west into Alabama. We have a long history of similar patterns – heavy pressure in south Georgia but hardly anything in southeast Alabama.
"We’re into the second generation of fall armyworms, the grass strain, in coastal Bermudagrass and other hay fields in southeast Alabama, and they’re doing damage in places. The garden fleahopper has been causing damage in a cotton field in Mobile County. This is the first time I’ve seen the pest in cotton in the 39 years I’ve been working the crop and didn’t know for sure what the insect was when a consultant emailed me images of the pest and the damage. But Mississippi State University recently released an excellent color insect guide for cotton, and the garden fleahopper was in it. So, it’s evidently been a pest at some point in Mississippi cotton."
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Ga.: "Aphids have really started blowing up in some areas. People think that they’re seeing the fungus in places, with what appears to be some decline. But unless something started over the weekend, I’m still not aware of any widescale die-off. Most spraying right now would be for stink bugs where they’re hitting thresholds. We’re into the third week of bloom on some cotton and into the second week in other fields, so we’re into a critical point with stinkbugs."
Barry L. Freeman, Extension Entomologist (Retired), Belle Mina, Ala.: "Mites are out there, and people are mostly watching them. Some treatments have been made over the last 10 days, partly to figure out what works. We’re not seeing the mite fungus to the point that it’s wiping out populations, but it’s at least holding them down. With drought stress, mite damage has been a lot worse than it would have been with adequate moisture. The fungus that takes out spider mites is population dependent – meaning it requires a certain concentration of mites to trigger a sufficient outbreak. That’s unlike aphids, which are kind of weird in the fact that you don’t need huge numbers for that fungus to develop.
"We’re picking up fair numbers of corn earworm moths but not egg counts yet. So, we’re just on the front end of that. Aphids haven’t done much, and I don’t expect them to. This is about when the aphid fungus develops. Plant bugs started with a bang but never amounted to much. That late June heat probably knocked them down. In walking through fields, I’m probably seeing fewer dirty blooms than I have in years. We’re getting scattered rains, which crops desperately needed. The older cotton was hurt. I don’t know how bad, but significantly. I can’t say that some of the younger cotton wasn’t hurt, too, but the rain seemed to mostly come in time for it."
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, S.C.: "A lot of bollworm/corn earworm eggs are in the cotton. We got the expected early peak of moths, based on what we’ve counted in our traps, but the early peak was higher than what we’ve seen in the previous 4 seasons that we’ve been monitoring moths. I hesitate to forecast too much. But based on the number of corn earworms in corn and the egg counts, we could be in for a heavier-than-normal corn earworm year across soybeans and cotton.
"A good deal of blooming cotton is being sprayed for stink bugs. Applications were even being made in some cotton that had just started blooming, which I consider a little early. We’re going into the third week of bloom. We’re benefitting from widespread thunderstorms today (7/12) that seem to be moving through a major part of our rowcrop areas. We had thunderstorms across the state over the July 4 weekend, too."
Brad Smith, Crop Production Services, Selma, Ala. "In a fair amount of cotton, we’re running into tarnished plant bugs, and most everybody is making applications. That’s the main focus with treatments right now in cotton. Overall, cotton looks decent. The majority is blooming really good, but in a few dry areas the blooms are closer to the top than we would like to see. We have areas that have received adequate rainfall and others that have received less than adequate amounts. Moisture isn’t as good as we would like, maybe, but it’s certainly better than we know it could be. The main thing today in terms of insects are fall armyworms in hay fields. People need to be checking. The numbers are heavy in places. Even if a hay field looked fine on Friday, you might find brown spots in it today (7/12)."
Johnny Parker, Agronomist, Commonwealth Gin, Windsor, Va.: "A marginal amount of rainfall on Saturday (7/10) may have been enough to wake up the cotton crop, but it definitely wasn’t enough to get it going again. Rainfall amounts ranged from a trace to about a half inch in most areas, with isolated areas receiving close to an inch. The best development related to the weather is a change in the basic pattern. It appears that we are in a typical summertime, muggy period that should bring a decent chance of afternoon thunderstorms almost every day for the next week. Hopefully, by the end of this week the entire region will have gotten more than an inch. If that happens, we should be back on track for our local cotton crop. The plants are small for this time of year, but it is still early enough to catch up. The challenge for getting larger plants is that when cotton begins blooming and setting bolls, it takes a good amount of soil moisture and time for it to add to its overall size, especially when it has been sitting still. At any rate, for the next 2 to 3 weeks all of the new growth and squaring will have a chance at contributing to yield."
Jack Bacheler, North Carolina Extension Cotton Entomologist: "In general, much of the crop is in the third week of bloom, plus or minus, which means we’re in that critical time for closely scouting cotton, especially in terms of boll damage. We know stink bugs are out there. In Wayne County, which is a part of the Coastal Plain where moisture is at least decent right now, our plots are running 10% to 25% stink bug damage, which was kind of a surprise because I know they’re not doing anything in areas that are really dry. But based on what people are seeing on cotton and other crops, there seems to be potential for decent levels of brown stink bugs to cause damage where plants are susceptible. Some areas do have moisture, and if it were me, I’d be particularly careful because where cotton is blooming well and remains attractive. Even in this kind of heat, if cotton isn’t stressed, there’s potential for stink bugs. Virtually nothing is turning up about aphids, and we just have spider mites here and there. The bollworm moth flight still seems to be ahead of schedule and potentially big. What that means for the cotton will depend on what the weather does and whether cotton has adequate moisture. The sweet corn growers are dealing with pretty high levels of infestation."
David L. Wright, Florida Extension Agronomist, Quincy, Fla.: "Cotton looks pretty good right now. Most that I’ve seen is in full bloom and setting a lot of fruit. Compared to when we’ve had so much DPL 555, it strikes me that I’ve not seen a lot of tall cotton getting away from people. These newer varieties are certainly more manageable in that respect. I’ve seen very little of anything that was being treated."