Alabama Cotton: Expect Heavy Thrips Pressure in Northern Counties

Thrips damaged cotton. Photo: Andrew Sawyer, University of Georgia

The Thrips Infestation Predicator for Cotton (TIPS) model uses planting date, temperature, rainfall and knowledge of when and how intense thrips infestations will be to predict risk of thrips injury for specific locations. The TIPS model is based on sever-al years of data across the SE and has been validated since.

The thrips model (here) shows heavy thrips pressure in Cherokee County and the Tennessee Valley (Belle Mina) from mid-May to the end of May. This year’s model shows that cotton planted in mid-May is going to be at the most risk to thrips’ injury and will probably benefit from an automat-ic foliar application for thrips control.

Alabama Extension cotton entomologist Dr. Ron Smith warns “Usually our earliest planted cotton is most at-risk from thrips but this year the model shows the last two weeks of May is
going to be North Alabama’s heaviest thrips pressure and when mid-May planted cotton would benefit from an automatic foliar application at the one-leaf stage to control thrips. The neonicotinoid seed treatments for thrips control on earlier planted cot-ton should provide enough protection but growers need to scout their fields as there may be individual fields that warrant a foliar application for thrips control.”

Dr. Smith recommends 4-6 of ounces per acre of Orthene (acephate) as a foliar treatment for thrips control.

The TIPS model will give the best predictions within 10-14 days after a grower uses it. We will send an update prior to May 15 as weather conditions could change and reduce the risk of thrips injury and the need for a foliar application.

This year seed quality is a concern and another reason to limit the potential of thrips injury. Alabama Extension’s new cotton specialist Dr. Steve Brown notes, “Seed companies report sup-plies for many varieties will be tight for 2019, primarily as a result of late season weather challenges in seed production areas last year. There’s simply less than expected seed that meets quality standards. Seed availability for replanting from poor stands or thrips injury will be limited.”


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