Texas LRGV Crops: Insects are Light – So Far

Cotton seedlings. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Things are heating up, literally. This week we saw temperatures in the low 90s daytime and high 70s at night. Many growers fertilizing and watering their crops this week while others sprayed for pests.

Cotton

According to the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication program 205,819.4 acres of cotton is what is currently being carried and is expected to not change too much as season progresses.

We continue to see cotton aphids throughout the Valley but are seeing our usual predators rise to the occasion to control them. Aphid populations have remained moderate but high in some areas that were treated in the mid Valley. I have seen many ladybug larvae emerge within this past week feeding on aphids in the cotton fields. Other predators starting to emerge are the big-eyed bug  and minute pirate bug.

The scymnus beetle larva was very present feeding on aphids (they look like a Maltese dog or white mop walking around on cotton leaf). I picked up on quite a few thrips along the river in the Donna area so unless you have cotton barely putting on 1 st or 2nd true leaf I would not be too concerned. Yield loss due to thrip damage is mainly caused at the cotyledon and 1st true leaf stages.

We continued to see cotton fleahoppers increase as this week we noticed many more nymphs in the fields. I also noticed some blasted pin head squares in some of the cotton going into its second week of squaring. Next week will be the main week where our late planted cotton should start putting on pinhead squares. All Valley cotton will be squaring as we monitor for fleahoppers. Fleahopper adults and nymphs like to feed on the squares by sucking the juices causing cotton squares to just dry up, turn brown/grey  and fall off. It is important to diligently monitor populations over the next few weeks. During the first 3 weeks of squaring, 15-25 cotton fleahoppers (nymphs and adults) per 100 terminal may cause economic damage.

Grain Sorghum

Grain sorghum was flowering this week in some areas but the majority of the crop is right at flag leaf or boot stage in the Valley.

We continue to monitor for sugarcane aphids diligently and have yet to see a field with an infestation that warrants spray treatment. There have been many predators present in the sorghum as well as parasitism seen. I believe light sugarcane aphid populations are due to the variety planted and its level of resistance. However, in these fields I have seen predators handling the sugarcane aphids and keeping them at bay. Please walk your fields after they dry from this irrigation since moisture and high heat are key in increasing sugarcane aphid populations.

Corn, Sesame and Sunflowers

Some corn just started silking this week as the first silks emerge from the husks. I have not noticed any pests of concern in corn but moths will be laying eggs on the silks soon so will want to be on lookout for corn earworm.

Sesame continues to develop as the majority is past germination and into the seedling stage. In McCook sunflowers are blooming nicely as we went to check the variety trial planted.


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