Texas West Plains Cotton: Scout Conventional Fields for Bollworms

Bollworm, cotton square. Photo: Aaron Cato, University of Arkansas

Area producers need to be scouting conventional cotton for bollworms! This week (August 5-8) the scouts and I have been finding cotton bollworms at or above threshold in conventional cotton. Majority of worms we found early in the week were at that time 2-4-day old larva. We are not seeing a continual egg lay, in fact we do not see many moths working fields early in the mornings.

We are finding them mostly in heavier canopied cotton. Beneficial numbers are good, but not enough to stay up with these current infestations of worms. Unfortunately, we are also seeing an occasional cluster of cotton aphids so be careful not to flare them. You must check every field individually to be certain.

Now I have talked mostly about conventional cotton. This does not excuse you from checking your other cotton acres with technology. We can find worms there as well. Now we are not finding as much damage or so far cause to treat. However, I would still closely watch/scout all cotton for all insects, period. Here is the link to new, more brief version of the Cotton Insect Guide.

I mentioned seeing cotton aphids in area fields. It is important that you are scouting for this pest on a regular basis to determine if they are building in number and spreading across a field or in decline. I have seen both situations the last couple of days. I suspect the fields where numbers continue to climb have excessive nitrogen. Be very careful on late nitrogen applications.

In the mix with worms and aphids we continue to find stink bug adults and eggs. The damage has increased over the last few days as we develop bolls which are a more suitable food source for these bugs. The Cotton Insect Guide online link has a section for chemical control of each of these pests.

Be aware that we are approximately a week from our historical “last effective bloom date”. An Ideal plant would only have 3-2 nodes above white flower at this time in order to have a bloom literally at the top of the plant on or near August 15th. This gives confidence that you will have good mature cotton at the bitter end and have not wasted any resources that you have put into this crop.

I know there are many irrigated fields that still have 7-4 NAWF. What to do? First, pray for a great fall, which we need no matter what. Secondly, the heat over the next few days should help. But most importantly the thing you can control is irrigation and fertility.

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If you still have fertilizer going, stop! Keep up with water demand but no more. You may need to shut the water off a day or two, even in this heat. New growth does us no good. A square formed after about July 20-25 has little chance of contributing to yield and especially quality yield.

My other concern is this new growth is insect fodder. Call if you have questions about any of this and we can walk through your situation.

Oh, many have asked where does a PGR fit into all of this? Well, if you have not used a PGR up to this point it probably has no fit at all. However, if you already have sprayed 12, 16, 24, or 32 ounces of a mepiquat chloride product on your crop, sure you can spray in total 48 ounces. So that last 16 ounces or more as allowed by label could help shift that plants attention to more reproductive growth than vegetative growth.

Peanuts are generally doing very good. Health and development have been on track. Weed control has been challenging though. Do your best to go into September as clean as feasibly possible. Most weeds that come up in September don’t amount to much. As with cotton, I would say that a peg formed by August 15 has a good chance a developing a harvestable pod. If weather pattern were to change toward cooler, wetter weather be prepared to protect from foliar diseases.


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