Texas Plains Pests: Thrips Pressure Variable in Cotton; Watch for Spider Mites in Corn

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General Status

I think many of us would argue with the NOAA drought map this week, while others would give it a disgruntled nod. That is how scattered or ‘personalized’ the weather events were this past week. I believe all of us in Hale, Swisher, & Floyd have seen some moisture from above over the past few weeks, but some of us have not had more than 0.1” or so for any given setting.

This has been followed closely by winds and hot temperatures that helped sap the seed bed leaving it drier than before the rains. Meanwhile others received heavy rains, hail, and high winds. Today, I do not feel either are content with their respective situation with June flying by like the clouds.

With some localized hailed out or hailed on areas aside, our irrigated cotton, corn, and sorghum are doing well. Our dryland acres are more dependent upon the what the weather has dealt out. Thrips are still an issue in cotton, especially in the usual northern areas, but less so than previous weeks.

Despite thrips and weather damage, crops and weeds continue to develop.


This week our scouting program cotton acres ranged in stage from pushing to matchhead square stage. Thrips were again our only insect pest of note. Our highest field population of thrips came in again at a very high 6.5 thrips per true leaf stage. This was the exception rather than the rule this week as most fields had much fewer thrips be-hind treatments, rains, and a lessening of movement from wheat.

Most fields held between 0 thrips found and 0.5 thrips per true leaf with the lightest consistent thrips populations across southern Hale & Floyd. Thrips damage in the northern areas of Hale, Floyd and across all of Swisher is quite high, but fresh growth is showing recovery as thrips come under better control.

Beneficials are only now beginning to be found in our counts and even then they are only on the older plants that have begun to develop squares.

The ‘personalized’ hail events did impact some of our scouting acres as well, but was only localized to a small area in southeastern Swisher and northwestern Floyd. While there are other areas that did loose cotton acres, this is the only area our program lost.

Corn & Sorghum

Once again, things remain quiet in our program corn and sorghum fields. Our corn came in at V8 and had a hint of a destroyed spider mite colony that had been demolished by the thrips population. We should be on the lookout for a flush of spider mites, who love higher temperatures and slightly stressed corn.

Our sorghum came in this week at V6-V7 with almost no insect activity noted in-field, which includes the usual bountiful fall armyworm whorl damage to non-Bt corn and sorghum fields. Beneficials, early season thrips aside, seem strangely absent from both of these crops too.

Fall armyworm and bollworm moth catches have been very light for the region so far. The bollworms we are picking up this week likely overwintered locally, but even this is lighter than ‘normal.’ The populations of both bollworms and fall armyworms farther south are reported to be ‘normal’ and casing some issues in Bt and non-Bt fields alike.

We will keep you informed as we progress through the summer.

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