Cotton – Midsouth – On The Verge Of Plant Bugs – AgFax

Plant bug. Photo: University of Georgia

Owen Taylor, Editor
Questions, comments, complaints? My door is always open.

Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Midsouth Cotton, sponsored by
the Midsouth Cotton Team of AMVAC Chemical Corporation.


Plant bug numbers are increasing in places and more treatments are being made. No catastrophic situations are being reported but the annual tussle with plant bugs has started.

Fleahoppers are more widespread this year in Louisiana. See comments by Sebe Brown.

Rain from last week’s system helped growers on a wide basis with weed control, nitrogen uptake and general plant growth. To a degree, it also should bring up cotton planted in dry ground.

Cotton planting has wrapped up except in special cases.



Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

“I’m getting a few questions about plant bugs but mostly people are just letting me know that they’re finding them. We’re at that point when a lot of cotton is coming into squaring and plant bugs are moving off wild hosts and into cotton.

“We do still have cotton emerging, and a few folks are calling about thrips. Japanese beetles are being seen in cotton, although they’re not really a pest in cotton. They’re big, showy and easy to find, so that triggers a bit of panic.

“In places, it rained nearly 2 inches over several days. Some folks are still dry, although a half-inch total was pretty common.”

Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

“We’re moving into the plant bug phase. In most cotton, numbers are low, but corn silks are starting to turn, so we expect movement from corn to cotton any time now.

“We’re pretty much past thrips issues in most cotton. A lot of aphids are developing around the fourth to sixth leaf, and this is happening in any number of fields, pretty much throughout the state. We’re seeing symptoms like cupped leaves, and some treatments have been made. Be cautious if you’ve got to treat insects and avoid acephate or pyrethroids because we don’t want to make aphids worse.

“Our bollworm moth trap numbers are down, and I’m glad to report that, but we did see a little flurry with bollworms in crops. Generally, they went into corn but a few found their way into soybeans. At most, we’re counting 2 to 3 worms per 25 sweeps in soybeans, with 5 to 6 counts in the earliest planted beans.

“If you’re applying the virus, we recommend treating at 4 to 5 per 25. If you’re going with a conventional program, it’s 9 to 10 per 25. We’re not quite to that number yet with conventional materials but a little virus is being applied.

“As things are lining up with bollworms, we’re on schedule for that Fourth of July flight.”

Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

“More rain fell on the eastern side of the state than in the Delta. I was all over the Delta early this week and totals from that last system ran a half-inch to an inch in places. On the other hand, it rained 5.5 inches at Starkville and things are still soaking wet there.

“With cotton, a lot of little things are happening in a lot of places, but no big issues are taking shape yet. People are trying to figure out how to deal with highly variable and mixed cotton stands. They have cotton at 4 to 5 leaves but the rain has now germinated remaining seed, so they also have cotton that’s just emerged.


“So, how do you deal with thrips on maybe 15% of the plants when everything else in the field is past thrips being an issue?

“A few calls also have come in about threecornered alfalfa hoppers (3CAH). We don’t have a good threshold for 3CAH in cotton, plus they can quickly repopulate fields after you do treat. Also, we’d like to avoid spraying 3CAH right now because we’re about to get into the plant bug phase when we could have more need to treat.

“You might suppose that 3CAH would be more likely to appear in conservation tillage cropping but they’ve developed in obvious numbers this year in certain fields that are conventionally tilled. They give cotton an orange tint that’s hard to miss and also will stunt plants.

“Several years ago, I did work with a graduate student on this subject and found that adjoining plants tend to compensate for plants that 3CAH take out. You can have worse places in a field, certainly, but 3CAH typically don’t significant affect yield.

“With a few exceptions, spider mites are mostly in the background. Plant bugs range from nonexistent to a handful of locations where people are treating, at least right now.

“In soybeans, a few redbanded stinkbugs are turning up but nothing that’s a concern right now. People tell me they might see 1 to 3 in a day’s worth of checking. Based on what we know, we’ll probably have to deal with them to some extent in the late-planted beans.

“Several people are finding low levels of bollworms in beans but it’s not an immediate concern.”

Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

“Plant bugs are picking up and are migrating from corn into cotton and also are moving out of alternative hosts. Cotton is starting to square and in some fields retention is pretty low.

“We’re also picking up fleahoppers in larger numbers than we normally expect. Typically, we don’t have many issues with fleahoppers and it’s usually just in isolated spots. If we have them, they’re mostly in the Red River Valley, but people this week are reporting fleahoppers in northeast, central and northwest Louisiana.

“More than likely, fleahoppers are knocking off at least some of those squares. Plant bugs may be in the mix, too, but fleahoppers can blow squares off just as readily. Thankfully, fleahoppers are easier to kill than plant bugs.

“Our threshold for fleahoppers is 2.5 to 6 per 25 sweeps, and in places they’re running 2X to 3X threshold.

“Rain from this last system varied. Totals were as high as 8 inches in spots south of Alexandria, but maybe only 3 tenths fell in areas north of Alexandria. Generally, our major row crop areas received from 3 tenths to 2 inches.

“In soybeans, redbanded stink bugs are showing up in more fields. When beans hit R3, that’s typically when major numbers begin building.

“More and more calls are coming in from guys who planted soybeans early to try to finish the crop soon enough to miss redbanded. But the insect has already jumped into their beans, to the point that treatments have started.

“The farthest north I’m aware of any treatments being made is probably Concordia Parish. People are catching them as far north as Interstate 20 – not at threshold but numbers are picking up in some fields.”

Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi:

“Fortunately, everybody in this area received at least a half-inch of rain from that system that started up last Thursday (6/6). In places, 1.5 inches fell. Growers weren’t exactly hurting for rain but it was needed for herbicide activity.  

“A moth flight began about a week ago (from 6/10). I don’t know if it’s peaked yet but I’m still seeing a few bollworm moths in soybeans. In cotton, we sprayed here and there for thrips and will start our mepiquat chloride applications this week. So far, I haven’t found enough plant bugs to address.”

Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas:

“We had a dry spell for a bit and farmers got plenty done. All the cotton herbicides went out before this last weather system came through. Depending on the location, totals ranged from an inch to 7 inches and it mostly fell in about 3 days starting on Thursday (6/6).

“Whatever cotton hasn’t been planted yet, that ground will go into soybeans now. Of what we’ve planted, 99% is up.

“We’ve started triggering plant bug sprays and are getting nitrogen out. Where plants could grab nitrogen, they’ve really taken off. We’ve also started mepiquat chloride sprays.

“So far, only a few plant bug treatments have been made. Most of the crop, though, is either attractive to plant bugs or will be soon, so applications will likely pick up next week.

“A lot of discussion is going on about whether to start in with the first Diamond shot now or wait. The consensus is that this could be a big insect year, so a lot of factors are being weighed.

 “In soybeans, we’ve started planting our wheat beans but still have cases where full-season fields haven’t been planted yet. Where growers are going in behind wheat, equipment can stand up better, and one grower actually has planted more doublecrop beans than full-season acres.

“Technically, I guess, a lot of our soybeans this year will be doublecrop beans, even if they didn’t follow wheat.”

Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri:

“With this last weather system, rain totaled 1 to 2 inches in certain areas and a half-inch to three quarters of an inch in others.

“That was over the weekend (6/8-9). The cloudy conditions have been annoying and today (6/11) things started out cool, but the soils should still be warm. We’ve had enough showers and clouds that people couldn’t be in the field, so growers are now cleaning up things and trying to get the crop moving again.

“At most, we have cotton at 8 leaves, although it’s probably more like 7, and we might have 1 or 2 squares. I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see blooms by the Fourth of July with maybe a few scattered around in June.

“We’re finishing a few thrips treatments. We began sweeping a small number of fields for plant bugs this week and found them in a couple of locations. These may be cases where cover crops were burned down quickly and plant bugs moved into the cotton from the cover crop.”

Hank Jones, C&J Ag Consulting, Pioneer, Louisiana:

“Respectable amounts of rain fell in spots south of Interstate 20 with this last big system, but accumulations were fairly sporadic north of I-20. Places that needed rain the worst seemed to get the least.

“We’re dealing with a good many skippy stands where cotton was planted in the middle of a hot, dry spell. We thought seed were down into good moisture. Some years that works, some years it doesn’t, and this was a year when it didn’t. We hope the seed is still in dry dirt and we’ll get enough moisture soon to bring them up.

“North of I-20, a few growers are on their fourth round with pivots trying to water up cotton. Moisture just won’t stay in the ground, especially on ridges.

“This is my 18th year of consulting and you always compare whatever season you’re in to some year in the past. But I really can’t draw any comparisons for this one. We’ve had a wide array of obstacles – weather delays, replanting, too wet to get in the field, too hot and dry for cotton to germinate. On top of all that, it’s been too dry to kill weeds.


“I dug through a bunch of older copies of AgFax for some historic reference but nothing compares to 2019. This is a kind of unique year because planting dates are so spread out, which will complicate what happens in the field for the rest of the season.

“We will actually have cotton planted next week for the first go-round. The grower worked up fields but it didn’t rain on that ground. He’s watering down the middles and will let the water soak in, then drag the rows and plant cotton. In my career, that will be the latest I’ve ever seen someone plant cotton. So, I have cotton ranging from still in the sack to 10 nodes.

“I found plant bugs today in cotton and will spray just a few acres. Small numbers of cotton aphids are scattered around and we’ve been spraying thrips later than I can ever remember.

“In soybeans, we started finding low numbers of redbanded stink bugs south of Winnsboro last week. Redbanded will likely be tough when you find them around here in the first 10 days of July, but this was within the first 10 days of June.  

“I hesitate to make predictions about how bad they’ll be, but a colleague in the Ville Platte area said they’re already on the verge of spraying redbanded and that they’re in every field. Oddly, I didn’t find them to any extent on winter hosts but they’re present now. With all the late planting, this could be an extended fight.”

Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:

“Between Thursday and Sunday, 1 to 3 inches of rain fell, and it hit the cotton just right, although corn could have used a little more. Today (6/10) is the first day that we’ve sprayed for plant bugs and we’re also putting out a little mepiquat chloride.

“Plant bugs are running 5% to 6%. Our older cotton has 3 to 5 squares and we’re trying to save them. If cotton is on good ground, I’m going with 8 to 10 ounces per acre of mepiquat chloride. On marginal ground, I’m backing the rate down to 6 ounces.

“Corn has really started tasseling now. We saw tassels last week but more fields are at tassel now.”

Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana:

“Our cotton is generally at 8 to 10 nodes and retention is good. A tiny bit of plant bug movement has started into cotton. We went through a fair amount of early thrips pressure but nothing much is happening now (6/10).

“Corn is showing a lot of brown silk. A pretty big rain event developed about 3 weeks ago and we assumed the dryland corn would have an adequate moisture supply, but then things dried up fast and corn stressed a little. But then an even larger rain event started last Thursday (6/6), and I think that threw corn into a fair amount of shock.

“I’m finding less-than-desirable ear size, which is a little concerning. The plants actually look quite healthy otherwise.

“Soybeans range from not planted to the earliest fields at R3. Most look pretty good. A long dry spell is in the forecast, and I hope that doesn’t materialize. Because of all the wet soils early on, soybean root systems are limited, so we need a weather pattern that kind of spoon feeds moisture to the crop.”

Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:

“We finally caught much-needed rain. It started on Thursday evening (6/6) and was still going in places today (6/10). It was sporadic but most people received from a half-inch to 2 inches.

“In particular, the dryland corn needed it, and a lot of acres suffered due to lack of moisture. In places, corn has tasseled out and some still isn’t quite there yet. If anything, corn could use more rain right now.

“At this point, cotton is young and doesn’t need a lot of water, but everyone was glad to see it rain. The earliest fields – planted in late April and early May — have probably been squaring for a week or maybe two. Very little, if any, PGRs have been needed thus far, but some fields will be primed for takeoff with the rain, and PGR applications and plant bug sprays will likely begin very soon.

“The rain helped activate nitrogen that had been waiting for moisture. Some preemerge herbicides probably played out before the rain, but it may activate longer-lasting materials. That won’t help with weeds that are already up but growers can come back now with an over-the-top material and a residual. In those dry conditions, weed control had turned into a challenge.

“Wheat has been a bit surprising. So far, yields have been respectable, considering all the poor planting conditions last fall and all the wet weather into the winter. Also, it turned hot very quickly and wheat likely missed out on full grain fill in certain fields. I’m sure yields are low in places, but I’m also hearing averages in the 70s to low 90s (bushels/acre.”

AgFax Midsouth Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
Owen Taylor, Editorial Director.
Working-Copy%5B1%5D.jpgThis weekly report is distributed during the cotton production season. It is available to United States residents engaged in cotton farming, field scouting and other qualifying ag professions. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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