Virginia Cotton: Some Crops Getting Safe, Some Need Protection

Insecticide sprayer in cotton. Photo: ©Debra L Ferguson

After seeing some scouting reports along with personal observations over the last several days I would characterize our overall crop situation as advanced, and scattered insect pressure.

  • Moth traps are maintaining medium nightly catches in some locations, while others are quite low.
  • As far as stinkbugs, are concerned, they are even more scattered than the moths and overall, as low as we have seen in several years.
  • The insect that has gotten more attention recently has been plant bugs, and for the younger cotton that is still setting bolls they can still do damage.
  • Cotton will become safe from worms first followed closely by plant bugs around the 5th to the 6th week of bloom. Cotton that started blooming on the 4th of July or earlier is in this category.
  • It all comes down to whether the small bolls at the top are shedding off naturally or if the last blooms are right at the top 2 or 3 nodes.
  • Cotton that is very mature at the top with red stems and leathery leaves or cotton that is changing more to a cut-out color will be safer from insects, while greener cotton with a lot of squares at the top is more attractive and like a delicious salad bar for insects.
  • The approaches remain scouting to determine insect presence or spraying on a schedule based expected cotton susceptibility. The schedule varies depending on what your insect technology package is and which materials you are using.
  • If you do not have a scout, the summarizing comment I would make is that if you have BollGuard 2 and have used pyrethroid (Bifenthrin, Baythroid, etc) based insecticides, then a second pyrethroid spray around 10 to 14 days with an active moth flight and green blooming cotton would be a good decision.
  • For 3 gene cotton, or when using higher rates of Prevathon/Besiege on BG2, I would expect a longer interval and not necessarily automatic if the cotton gets into that cut-out situation as described above.

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