Cotton – Southeast – Insects Demand Attention – AgFax

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

    Pam Caraway, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Bollworm moth flights are evident across parts of the Southeast this week.

    Aphids are crashing. They’re still around, but the fungus has taken out aphids on a wider basis this week. After all the honeydew accumulation, rain-washed cotton now looks considerably fresher.

    Target spot is showing up. Treatments are being made where cotton is blooming and soil moisture is good, either from rain or irrigation. In our Also of Note section, connect to an article from Auburn University on cotton blue disease.

    Redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) were found in south Alabama soybeans this week. This is already shaping up to be a complicated stink bug year, and RBSB adds yet another component. See comments by Ron Smith.



    Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina:

    “Cotton is super early because it’s been so hot, and the crop is anywhere from the first to fourth week of bloom. Rain last week helped. We were parched, so we needed that 2.5 inches to 5 inches of rain.

    “We’re on the cusp of a bollworm moth flight and are starting to see a bunch of eggs in the field. We are treating for stink bugs and are still seeing plant bugs. Aphids are here, too, but we haven’t detected the fungus yet. We’re hoping with the rain that the fungus will come on. The aphids aren’t flaring, and we hope to avoid treating.

    “In soybean, we’re seeing more kudzu bugs than in the past.

    “In peanuts, we’re treating threshold levels of leafhoppers in isolated cases.”

    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:

    “We’re just living by the thunderstorm right now and rain has been scattered.

    “Most of our crop is slipping into stink bug territory. Folks are scouting closely and following our threshold. When stink bugs come in, concern about plant bugs goes out the window. We have to take care of those bolls and what we’re using for stink bugs should push back the plant bugs enough.

    “We were seeing honeydew and shiny leaves everywhere, but the fungus came in and took out the aphids. That certainly alleviated the pressure aphids were putting on the crop.

    “Bollworm pressure is still on the low side, at least in the southern part of the state, based on what we’re seeing in the pheromone traps.

    “In soybeans, heavy populations of kudzu bugs have developed. I still expect 2019 to be a big stink bug year here, but we’re not at bloom yet and don’t have pressure from defoliating insects, either.”

    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater:

    “I haven’t seen the first bollworm moth in cotton, and I have not found the first egg in cotton, either. I don’t anticipate that we’ll need any bollworm sprays yet. Since 2016, we have seen bollworm come through on some 2-gene cotton and I recommend using an egg threshold.

    “It is important to scout all cotton varieties. For 3-gene cotton, I recommend spraying on a larval threshold. Growers spend additional money on these trait packages, so they should give the technology a chance to work.

    “We’re picking up stink bugs in our sweep nets. Don’t target stink bugs with sprays until we have bolls that need to be protected. In cotton, you can measure square and boll retention, and it is relatively easy to check your first-position bolls. Our internal-damage threshold is the only way to ensure you’re making economic decisions based on measurable levels. I do know that it’s scary to see a bug and not spray.

    “Be cautious with insecticides in peanut, cotton and soybean because it’s dry and we’re at a high risk for spider mites, plus the weather is favorable for secondary pests. Also, aphid pressure is heavy. Scout and check thresholds before making a treatment decision.”

    Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia:

    “Target spot is evident on square bracts, but it has not blown up. We’re applying fungicides on our older cotton. The aphids are gone. Stink bugs are awful. In one field that was sprayed 2 weeks ago, internal boll damage was running over 30%, plus live bugs in the field. We’re also finding stink bugs in non-blooming cotton. We really need to start spraying stink bugs when the cotton begins blooming.


    “Every insect we’ve dealt with in cotton this year has been to the extreme side: thrips, plant bugs, aphids, stink bugs. This is going to be the most expensive crop I’ve ever been involved with – and with some of the lowest market prices.”

    “In peanuts, more tomato spotted wilt virus has turned up than we have had in a long time. Of course, stands were skippier than normal for a number of reasons. For one thing, seed vigor isn’t what we previously expected, plus we planted deeper to get to moisture and then conditions turned dry early on.

    “In corn, we’re not fully at black layer yet, but soil moisture is good enough to carry us to it. We are finding rust. It’s not everywhere, but it is coming to the top. We are treating fields that need a fungicide to maintain stalk strength. Fingers crossed – I think this is going to be a good corn year for us.”

    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:

    “Crop conditions are looking up in our Blacklands, but the season is a little dicey on the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont.

    “Our bollworm flight started. If there is a ‘normal’ for when it begins, this is a little early but no one is reporting crazy-high egg lays this week. It’s probably best to let the Bts work. Growers can be a bit looser on the broad-spectrum pesticides when they have the 3-toxin varieties. In an insecticide trial we did, even when there was damage, there was no yield benefit to spraying 3-toxin cotton.

    “Just scout and follow our thresholds. We have them for a reason.

    “Growers with multiple pests who want to clean up the field can wait until the fifth week of bloom, go out with a heavy hitter-type material and clean up the stink bugs and plant bugs. The grower will likely be done for the season. That said, we can never walk away from it. Keep scouting.

    “In soybean, stink bug pressure is spotty. Pay attention to stink bugs from pods to R6 or R7. At R7 you probably can double your threshold and still be okay. At R8, you can stop worrying about stink bugs altogether.”

    John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia:

    “Rains have been spotty, but most everything is holding up.

    “The fungus wiped out our aphids. We do have stink bugs and they’re heavier than normal but aren’t widespread. But where we have them, the numbers are high and they’re mostly browns, so we have to treat. Spider mite pressure is lower. Whiteflies are in the area, but nothing alarming, and we’re watching those. So far, we haven’t treated any worms. We are right in the start of a corn earworm flight.

    “We sprayed a few fields for target spot, mostly irrigated land where the cotton is getting big and we saw target spot low in the canopy. We have a good cotton crop coming, I think. At 60 cents, we’ll sure have to have a good crop.”

    “In peanuts, several foliage feeder species are present and we’re treating where it’s needed. White mold is showing up here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

    Richard Davis, Davis Ag Consulting, Montgomery, Alabama:

    “Good rain fell on all our cotton, anywhere from about 0.6 to 2 inches.

    “Aphids have completely crashed. We are beginning to pick up stink bugs and finding some damage. We started spraying older fields this week. As this corn dries down, we do expect heavy stink bug pressure.

    “I’m mostly basing treatment decisions on damage. Of the adults I’ve seen, most are browns. A bollworm moth flight started last week, but we are not picking up anything. I have mostly 2-gene cotton and it is fruiting heavily right now. It has real promise, provided timely rains continue.”

    Trey Bullock, Bullock’s Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Mississippi:

    “It really got dry last week. Up until then, it had rained about an inch every week. But when it quit raining and the heat index jumped above 100, you could just about watch the cotton burning up. The hurricane (Barry) really saved us. The rain sure helped but we didn’t have enough wind to hurt.

    “Like everyone else, our cotton is all over the board – from maybe the fifth node to fields at 20 nodes and trying to cut out.

    “Our biggest problem has been aphids, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this. We might be in a 100-acre field on a Thursday and put on the report ‘light aphids’ or ‘a few aphids,’ but then come back Monday and find them on 100% of the plants and with honeydew showing. It’s been amazing how quickly they’ve developed this year.

    “We’ve done okay controlling them, but yesterday (7/16) I was already finding aphids in several fields that we treated about 10 days ago. Over the last 3 or 4 years, the fungus hasn’t been as reliable as in the past. I found the first fungus in Lawrence County last week. I rode through there on my way to Port Gibson today (6/17). I spot-checked a couple of fields where it hadn’t been present last week and did find the fungus on that cotton this morning. So far, though, the fungus hasn’t developed in cotton in any of the other 18 counties where I work.

    “We started picking up bollworm eggs last week and we did end up spraying worms in about 1,300 acres of cotton in Claiborne County today.

    “Our peanuts look good. Like cotton, peanuts are all over the board from 45 days old today to fields at 90 days.”

    Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

    “Plant bugs — both adults and immatures – are in the system, as well as stink bugs, and they all need to be cleaned up. Farmers aren’t anxious to take that step because they see a lot of beneficials out there, but it’s time to decide – are you going to set fruit or protect beneficials? We simply can’t keep these bugs in the system any longer.


    “We expect a corn earworm flight into cotton in central Alabama in the next 10 days. That timing is based on the corn crop, which is probably as advanced in central Alabama as it is on the Gulf Coast. It’s unusual for the timing to be so close in both areas, but that’s how things have shaped up this season.

    “In soybeans, we found redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) at damaging levels at Prattville (in the Montgomery area) on Tuesday. RBSB is a real booger bear. It’s concerning to find them that far north this early and that means they already could be anywhere on the Gulf Coast or in the panhandle of Florida.

    “They are not an annual pest. RBSB was really bad in the Midsouth in 2017, but then pressure hardly developed in 2018. However, this looks to be a heavy stink bug season everywhere. With RBSB already in Prattville, you can expect them across the Florida panhandle and across south Alabama – including our Blackbelt region, where soybeans are widely planted.”

    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “We’re seeing corn earworm activity, but we haven’t had to treat yet. For right now, scout and be prepared to treat if that time comes.

    “We’re going to be treating stink bugs, and the brown stink bug will be a significant percentage of the population in Georgia this year. That’s important because we have to adjust our treatment plan when they’re in the mix.

    “Silverleaf whiteflies are turning up here and there. They’re still at low numbers, but we absolutely must pay attention to them. Once you detect whiteflies, they’re part of the equation for the rest of the season.”

    It’s way too early to even guess yields at this point, regardless of the scenario. But, it’s wise to budget according to realistic yield potential and perhaps adjust our inputs for what we are likely to harvest in certain cases.
    Extension workers and university researchers are requesting samples to broaden the base of information about this relatively new disease.
    It’s the type of weather forecast that does not allow for planning very well, but it keeps us hopeful.
    “As we have seen in previous years from monitoring bollworms in corn, Bt resistance is on the rise. They also are more numerous than 2018 in corn and I expect our major July-August flight to arrive a bit earlier than usual.”
    The 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day, set for July 25, will feature  practical information from ag scientists about the newest technologies that farmers can use to improve their operations.
    “This field day is an opportunity to showcase technological advancements and the differences they’re making in our research plots.”
    Instructional sessions and hands-on demonstrations are scheduled, plus exhibits where industry and precision ag service providers will interact with attendees. 
    Redbanded stink bug generations overlap — meaning immatures and adults are present concurrently. That complicates control. 
    AgFax Southeast 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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