Cotton – Midsouth – Pest Pressure Mounts – AgFax

    Insecticide sprayer in cotton. Photo: ©Debra L Ferguson

    David Bennett, Contributing Editor

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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


    Pest pressure is mounting. Plant bug numbers continue to build in many areas, prompting treatment. In parts of the Midsouth, bollworm moths are moving north and laying eggs. Where worms have nestled deep in the canopy, treatment results have been problematic at times.

    Stink bugs and bollworms are building in soybeans. Over the last week, stink bug numbers jumped in the southern half of the region.

    A run of rain-free days allowed farmers to push into corn harvest in south Louisiana and in a few Mississippi fields, too. More corn cutting will begin in earnest next week, weather permitting.

    Soybean harvest aids are going out on a broader basis, although the pace lags compared to a more typical year.



    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

    “A fresh bollworm egg lay is underway, and we are beginning to find more damage. With trickles of moths coming from late corn into cotton, this is about what we expected.

    “Plant bug numbers have swung to the bad side over the past week in certain areas, and a good deal of the June-planted cotton is holding plant bugs. But in the early-planted cotton, plant bugs are mostly absent.

    “We missed a rain last weekend. We don’t need to irrigate, but it’s extremely hot and things are quickly drying down.

    “Farmers are harvesting corn. They’re taking advantage of a favorable window with low humidity and are cutting where they can before any rain comes into the forecast again. Early yield reports range from okay to a bit above average. As challenging as this growing season has been, everyone is happy to get the crop out.

    “Stink bug numbers are jumping in soybeans. A mix of redbanded, browns and greens have exploded in the last 5 days. Where early soybeans are ready for desiccation, stink bugs are running upwards of 40 per 25 sweeps. Many of our fields hit R-5 the first week of August, which is usually the point that redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) build. Last week, RBSB were running 2 to 5 per 25 sweeps, but that has since increased to 10 to 15. The farther south, the more intense the pressure.”


    Andy Graves, Graves Agronomy Service, Clarksdale, Mississippi:

    “Much of the cotton looks good and has high blooms, 1 to 3 nodes above white flower. In the next 10 days, we may be able to terminate applications on a third of our acres.

    “A second bollworm egg lay is beginning, and we’re retreating some acres with diamides. It appears another run of worms is forming. While it’s spotty, I am concerned about bollworms slipping through applications. It was interesting to find worms 5 days after a diamide shot. These would have been ‘walk away’ treatments, but in several fields, we’ve found 10% to 20% worms behind diamide applications. Several other consultants in the area report the same thing.

    “The Bollgard 2 has our attention, but WideStrike 3 and Bollgard 3 have held up very well. We’re digging deep into those but aren’t seeing anything.

    “Plant bug numbers are still low, although spider mite numbers are picking up.

    “Last week, treatments went out on many younger soybean fields for podworms. In older dryland fields near R-6, we’ve made applications for stink bugs.

    “The corn crop is finished.”


    Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:

    “The oldest cotton is approaching cutout, with about 2 nodes above white flower. It rained 4 to 6 inches last week, so fields are very wet. In 32 years, I’ve never seen anything quite like this season’s weather. We’re actually begging for a string of dry days and sunshine, and the forecast says that may be the case.

    “Bollworm eggs aren’t terrible on the south end of my cotton range. However, on the north end, the numbers are picking up in younger cotton. We’re also fighting plant bugs.

    “We’ll be contending with soybean pests until mid-September, and I’ll be scouting cotton through early October, which is late for us. Usually, I’m defoliating cotton by early September. This year, I predict it’ll be the second week of October in a number of fields.

    “Most soybeans are around R-5.5 to R-6. A diamide went out on all the younger fields for earworms. Last week, stink bugs – redbanded, greens and browns – all picked up in the older crop.

    “We’ve desiccated a bit less than 10% of the soybeans. By mid-August, we’ll have 50% of our beans killed. Usually, that would be more like 80%.

    “I expect we’ll begin corn harvest in a week. In two weeks, we’ll be running wide open.”


    Lee Rogers, Rogers Entomological Service, Steele, Missouri:

    “We’re finding bolls in the top in older cotton, with fields moving into full bloom. We’re still dealing with plant bugs but haven’t detected much bollworm activity. Aphids are crashing in some areas but thriving in others.

    “We’re still applying Pix and boron, plus irrigating.

    “Fungicides are going out on a significant portion of our soybeans. Insect pressure in soybeans remains light, although that can change quickly. I’m finding stink bugs, for example, but they haven’t reached threshold yet.

    “The corn is 1 to 2 weeks from finishing.”


    Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi:

    “We received good rain last week on nearly all of our farms, and another half-inch to 3 inches fell on Sunday night in places. Only a couple of growers irrigated cotton before it rained, and those fields experienced significant boll shed. It’s too bad because we were close to cutout and would be looking at wrapping up insecticide applications very soon. Plants are trying to restart in some of those fields, so we’ll have to protect that top crop, which will push us close to September. 


    “The moth flight resumed last week in most of my area. It was light overall, 10% to 20%. Nearly all the eggs were on bloom tags. We’re trying to stay ahead of or at least even with the moths, making applications to prevent substantial egg lays.

    “Spider mites picked up over the last two weeks, so I’ve added a miticide to several applications. With few exceptions, plant bugs have been very low. Application delays or wash-offs did allow populations to stage a comeback in several fields.

    “Many of my acres are in cutout, with good potential. I expect to find open bolls early next week in a few irrigated fields. However, many fields will require protection into mid-September to have a chance at decent yields.

    “We pulled all moisture sensors out of the corn over the last couple of weeks. One grower with a dryer and bins started harvesting corn on Monday. Others may begin next week. Yield potential looks pretty good, but all of the early rains did leave us with some weak areas.

    “Soybeans range from R-2 to R-5.8. Around July 20, pod worms became an issue in several fields of late beans. Stink bug numbers rose last week in some of the older beans. Diseases have been on the rise following rains or irrigation, but it’s nothing alarming yet.”


    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

    “We’re finding a few bollworms. They’re focused on our earliest cotton that is flowering towards the top, and we’re beginning to spray a handful of fields. We’re dealing with a small, nagging moth flight that is dribbling out eggs. The overall bollworm moth flight has been low and is running late. I think by next week we’ll be in the midst of a larger moth flight and will be treating many more Bollgard 2 acres. However, some of our earliest cotton will be out of the woods by then.

    “In our later cotton, plant bugs are building, but we are finding few bollworms. We’re treating as needed for plant bugs. I’m hoping bollworms hold off long enough that we can do a ‘one and done’ treatment with Prevathon or Besiege. Our primary concern is where we have Bollgard 2 or the few fields of the original WideStrike technology. So far, reports indicate that Bollgard 3 and WideStrike 3 are holding up well.

    “In soybeans, we’re spraying kudzu bugs and stink bugs. More of our crop is at or beyond R-5, and that’s when stink bugs typically blow up.

    “I haven’t heard of any serious corn earworm issues but you do need to check late-maturing beans that are still flowering. That’s especially true if you’re in the Mississippi River bottoms, which is a chronic hot spot for bollworms in late soybeans.”


    Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee:

    “Rain began falling last Thursday (8/1) and continued into the weekend, so most of the cotton is in good shape. The crop has been blooming for about 6 weeks and we’re past peak bloom. Cotton has an impressive boll load and appears on schedule to bloom out the top in mid-August. If temperatures are steady and it doesn’t turn extremely dry, defoliation should begin around September 10.

    “The crop has been extremely clean. This is the lightest plant bug season in the Tennessee Valley in a few years. We’re in the northeastern end of the valley, and a lot of our cotton grows in coves, so it’s harder for plant bugs and stink bugs to migrate into the fields. I believe the ecology of the area – clovers, pastures and other plants we grow here – influences what goes on with insect dynamics.

    “The early-planted corn has reached black layer, and harvest will start in 2 to 3 weeks. August rains helped the crop. Some soybeans are touching in the pods. Pest activity in soybeans remains limited. The crop will need several more rains to determine yields.”

    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

    “It’s challenging to reach worms down in the canopy and kill them under bloom tags. So, we expect a bit more boll damage than anyone likes to see. That’s tough for farmers to take, but I don’t expect economic damage levels in most fields. This year, we’ll have to leave some worms in the field, and there’s no way around that.

    “Plant bug numbers are building in spots, although they’ve been extremely light on average. They’ve only recently started developing in several areas where numbers tend to be higher every year. That’s almost unheard of in cotton that’s been blooming for weeks.

    “We are finding low levels of bollworm escapes this year, and one reason for that has been a lack of plant bugs. In an average year, we’d be treating plant bugs and secondarily knocking out small populations of worms with acephate and pyrethroids. This season, fewer plant bug sprays were necessary, which allowed those worms to escape. A pyrethroid-acephate mix is not a go-to selection for worms in cotton, but it does fit in some situations.


    “We’ve sprayed more stink bugs in cotton than we have in years. Again, I attribute that to fewer plant bug applications, which typically suppress stink bugs.

    “We’ve sprayed many late-planted acres of soybeans for bollworms. Loopers are picking up, although we’ve made no targeted sprays. I am concerned that a looper flight will peak in a few weeks, and I understand that certain looper products are in short supply, so we’re considering how to fill any voids.

    “More redbanded stink bugs have turned up, and treatments have been necessary over the past week in fields south of U.S. 82. With plenty of late beans this year, I don’t doubt that we’ll have to deal with them later in that part of the crop.”

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

    “About two-thirds of our cotton acreage is earlier planted and looks pretty good, but we certainly need August rains to maximize that potential.

    “Everybody is looking hard for worm escapes, but mostly not finding much. We haven’t experienced the slippage in control that other areas are reporting. That said, we need to stay on our toes. Aside from stink bugs building in certain areas, cotton is pretty quiet.”


    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

    “Plant bugs began coming into cotton last week, and that continues. Plenty of cotton is at 5 nodes above white flower and hitting the last effective boll date. At this point, we’re not looking at square retention but are checking for boll damage.

    “Stink bugs also are moving in. The threshold is 1 per 6 row feet or 20% boll damage. To check for boll damage, squeeze the dime- or nickel-sized bolls and look for stained lint. Hopefully, that group of bolls will make it to the gin, and they need protection.   

    “A tremendous bollworm moth flight has taken shape in the southern half of the state, and it’s now moved above Interstate 40. From Chicot County to Pine Bluff, it isn’t uncommon to see a 100% egg lay. Many people made diamide applications 8 to 10 days ago. We’ll see how well the 3-gene cotton holds up. In our unsprayed Bollgard 2 research plots at Tillar, fruit damage is running 20% to 25%, with a bit of square feeding, too.

    “In soybeans, the bollworm flight is also evident, with high numbers in the late crop. That’s particularly the case in fields at R-2 to R-3 that haven’t lapped, and we just left a field where bollworms were running 35 to 40 per 25 sweeps. Stink bugs mounted a big influx into soybeans at R-5. Redbanded stink bugs are in the mix, but the browns and greens are the busiest right now.”

    “We knew from the start maturity covered a wide breadth, from cotton planted in mid-April to seeded in late June. Then, when considering most of our rainfall has been random isolated showers, yields are all over the board, as well.” – Jeff Thompson
    Focus on nutrient deficiencies in cotton.
    South Texas has a 4-bale potential for the irrigated crop. Lower yields expected under South Plains pivots.
    “There is no pigweed that can stand up to being mowed every 30 days, when alfalfa hay is harvested.” – John Jennings
    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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