Virginia Cotton: Spray for Thrips at First True Leaf

Cotton planting. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography
  • As May transitions into June, the top 2 cotton priorities will be to finish planting, and spraying for thrips on cotton that was planted more than 2 or 3 weeks ago.  A few folks are trying to get some medium varieties in on very light soils ASAP and using Pix to force it to be a little earlier.   
  • Our success for planting at the end of May and during the first week of June has been unique with early maturing varieties.  I believe if you plant medium and without question, late maturing varieties this late, then you are adding some risk in your operation.  Also, be sure that you are planting towards the high end of the seeding rate for later planting to help set your crop quicker.
  • As far as thrips sprays go, there are no changes so basically spray at the first true leaf stage.  That should include all fields planted prior to May 5.  Everything planted after that should be fine for another week.  6 – 8 ounces of Orthene is the best value.  Radiant is as good as Orthene, and is better on Westerns; we just do not have them.
    Ten years ago, we had a case of Western Flower thrips from Como to Severn and across the state line by about 5 miles.  It was only on the April planted cotton.  Even Temik had a tough time with them.  Farmers that had them ended up respraying with about 8 to 16 ounces of Orthene and then once cotton hit the 4 to 5 -leaf stage, it was fine and ended up picking two bales.
    I have never seen Western Flower thrips north of route 58.  This year, because of the weather, I would put the risk of damaging levels of these insects at near zero as usual and am therefore more comfortable with Orthene.  I’d rather save my money to fight weeds.
  • Speaking of Weeds, as we are transitioning to varieties with full Liberty tolerance as well as 2,4-D & Dicamba, be sure that this first trip addresses resistant weeds while they are small. Particularly ragweed which generally emerges during the spring and not so much after it gets hotter.  If your pre-emergence materials are still holding, then this is not an issue.

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