South Carolina Cotton: Watch for Seedling Issues with Grasshoppers

Image from University of Florida

Thrips, grasshoppers, cutworms, etc., are about it in cotton right now, with grasshoppers dominating the conversation so far. Be watchful for issues with seedlings and grasshoppers.

The best way to avoid problems with grasshoppers is to put some time between your burndown spray and planting. If the vegetation (weeds or a cover crop) is allowed to stay green up close to planting, your risk for having issues are elevated. Insects will simply move from the burned down plants to your emerging cotton, so give the burndown some time before planting.

Many of the insects will move along, if the field is barren for a while. While this will help tremendously, pods of grasshopper eggs will remain in the soil to hatch later, so you must keep an eye out for hatching pods. Young grasshoppers are fairly easy to control.

When they mature and become large insects, insecticides are less effective on the large-bodied adults, as you just cannot get enough active ingredient into them.

Here are 3 field reports:

Andrew Warner, county agent in Hampton County, reported that he is finding plenty of stink bugs in early corn; thrips seem to be low in cotton so far, but grasshoppers are the big issue at this point.

Drake Perrow, a consultant and producer, also mentioned that there was no shortage of grasshoppers in the fields he has put eyes on so far. He said that he has not seen this many grasshoppers for years.

Charles Davis, county agent in Calhoun County, also commented independently about the impending “plague” of grasshoppers. He said “…grasshoppers are rampant this year. I guess the mild winter kept them safe and happy. They will be something we have to deal with when this cotton crop finally gets in the ground.” 

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