Texas Plains: Good Moisture Beneficial to Crops and Pest Alike

General Status

General good rainfall area wide these past 2 weeks for most fields with near ideal timing for maximum benefit with our fields at key developmental stages and peak water use. It has made it increasingly difficult to get across our Plains Pest Management Scouting program acres. We started behind following last week and have had only 2 good scouting days so far this week. I am sure it is a tradeoff many would take.

There are plenty of things happening in the fields we have been able to scout ranging from PGR needs, to increasing spider mites, sugarcane aphids, bollworms, and weeds just to name a few.

We are very far behind, both in research plot work and scouting but the crops are rolling right along through crunch time with ‘free’ moisture just when we needed it most. I can’t wait to get across fields to calm my worries about all the things that might be sneaking up on us out there.


Cotton is certainly going to be my primary crop of concern as we become able to reach fields without the aid of boats or scuba gear. What we have seen so far this week has ranged in stage from 7.5 NAWF to cut-out of less than 3.5 NAWF with most fields coming in between 3.8 and 5.5 NAWF. There are quite a few fields at this quickly slammed shut early cut-out stage but boll set has been outstanding.

We will have to wait and see what yields look like for this shortened fruit setting window, but I am confident that these fields have held on to all the bolls they possibly could have.

We are still steadily finding Lygus in most fields but nothing nearing ET. Bollworms will be my largest concern over the next few weeks. Our moth trap numbers are trending steady to upward but next week’s look like they could be shooting upward based upon visual inspection of these traps as we pass by them on our rounds after collecting the moths earlier in the week.

We certainly need to be watching all types of Bt as well as conventional based upon reports of what these moths did to the South in cotton, corn and sorghum. The ET remains at 8,000 – 10,000 bollworms per acre but another research proven way of calculating the ET if you prefer is 6% harvestable fruit damage.

Corn & Sorghum

Our late corn is at VX while our older corn is in late dough to early dent. We are picking up some mites and a heavy increase in rust in the late corn. BGM continue to be a nagging issue for our earlier corn. This week I rated the field at 3.42 on our 0-10 mite damage rating scale with 3.5 – 4 is ET.

Herbicide Resistance Info

This was very surprising given the moisture fallen. I do see some Neozygites fungal infected mites helping to keep the population down, but not as much as I expected. Other mite specific predators are steady.

Bollworms (corn earworms, sorghum headworm) remain primarily attracted to corn. We are still finding heavy egg lay in the earlier corn, but very little in the late so far. We do not have nearly as many acres of late corn in the area as we have had in recent seasons. Once the earlier corn becomes unattractive and develops farther into dent stage, these moths will be looking for alternate host sites.

If the moths move into our area the way I expect them to based upon our moth traps, cotton and sorghum should be very carefully scouted over the next three to four weeks. I even have reports today from a producer who has already had to treat millet for bollworms/headworms.

Our sorghum ranges in stage from VX to hard dough with most of our fields either being at flag or early hard dough. We have a few headworms in sorghum heads, all of which have been bollworms, and a few sorghum midge too. The fall armyworms are steady but only in the whorl stage fields.

Sugarcane aphids are the main issue and look to be a primary issue for the next few weeks. We are currently scrambling to get out SCA research trials now that they have reached ET in our test plots and a few area fields.

The earliest planted sorghum fields may escape any economic impact if they can mature before the aphid reaches ET but need to be watched carefully. There are also later fields where the aphid is still hard to find but they are increasing everywhere.

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