Cotton – Midsouth – A Few Bolls Open, Pests Remain Erratic

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.


Midsouth cotton continues to rebound after an unusually shaky start. A few more bolls are opening.

Pest-wise, bollworms are a top concern. Three-gene cotton is holding up well despite massive moth flights in places. High plant bug populations also continue through much of the region.

Corn harvest has begun in earnest over southern half of the region, with cutting already completed in parts of Louisiana. Yields are mostly average, based on recent reports

Late soybeans face increasing corn earworm numbers. Stink bugs are still at threshold through parts of the region. Desiccation is beginning on a wider basis in the early crop.

Cotton marketing is always a challenge…this year, more so. In our Also of Note action, connect to this week’s commentaries from Jeff Thompson and Don Shurley.



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

“Our younger scouts returned to school. That isn’t making things easier, especially this year. But we can finally see the season’s end, and that’s a morale booster. We let go of a few cotton fields next week.

“Bollworm numbers are higher than I’ve ever seen. They are blowing through Bollgard 2 cotton in northeast Arkansas. Last year, we still observed some control and scraped by with pyrethroids and acephate. This year, we’ve had to break out diamides in a few fields.

“It’s a bad year for bollworms in both cotton and soybeans. 

“About 75% of our corn has wrapped up, and we’ll cut as soon as the ground dries up enough. One farmer owns a big dryer, so he can start very early.

“Our oldest beans are still two weeks from being finished. Our youngest soybeans were planted July 23 and are at V-3, so the soonest we might cut those is November 20 – and that’s a stretch. If we don’t catch a frost, it will put a dent in the deer season.”

Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Ventress, Louisiana:

“Our cotton looks fair after several weeks of small boll shed and excessive rain. Unfortunately, we’ve transitioned into hot nights, so the crop isn’t able to cool down. Most of the cotton is at 4 nodes above white flower. The more ‘modern’ varieties in moist, better soils will keep squaring until frost no matter how much growth regulator you apply.

“In some of our first-planted fields, we’re finding the first open bolls.

“We haven’t dealt with the bollworm pressure others are reporting in the Delta. We saw worms around July 4 and sprayed based on egg lay. We’ve had to treat for stink bugs and tarnished plant bugs in later cotton. Aphids and spider mites aren’t a problem.

“Corn harvest is 70% completed, thanks to this dry spell. Several growers finished harvesting and others are close. Yields are mostly disappointing, with low test weights. Where weather was decent in March and April and corn emerged evenly, yields are running 200- to 220-bu/acre. But many fields that historically average 220 are only going 160- to 170.

“Soybeans look good except where Hurricane Barry flooded fields. Paraquat has been applied on acreage where sugarcane will follow soybeans. This year began with redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) in the minority, while green populations ran high. However, as soon as you knock out the beneficials, RBSB spring back regardless of how well you stick to treatment fundamentals.

“Velvetbean caterpillars and loopers are now showing up in a few soybean fields, so we’ll treat soon.”

Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:

“As corn harvest begins, we are finding more stink bugs in cotton. These are mostly browns, and we’ve had to treat since August 7 until now. Plant bug pressure is low.

“Otherwise, we’re making the last Pix applications, and our cotton looks fine. Rains have perked up the crop, and most plants are 2 to 4 nodes above white flower. That puts us about 2 weeks behind normal.


“Corn harvest started in Noxubee County. Soybeans at the south end of my area are at R-5 to R-6.5. In the north end, fields are at R-1. I’m beginning to find a few redbanded stink bugs and loopers but nothing at threshold. Maybe the older beans will outrun insects and diseases.

“In peanuts, we put out fungicides before Barry came through and will come back with another treatment this week. A bit of southern blight is all we’ve seen.”

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

“Showers over the weekend in Bolivar and Washington Counties were welcome, but we’re still irrigating most fields. Plant bug numbers haven’t increased since the last treatment at the start of August.

“Since early August, bollworm populations haven’t warranted control. I just wrote a report with eggs running 4% to 6%. Plant bugs are also at the same percentages. About 20% to 30% of the cotton is cutting out. The bad thing is that I also have some cotton in the first week of bloom.

“Most corn is still running high moisture. The fields cut so far had irregular stands, so we’re still unsure about yields.

“In soybeans, we have three different plantings. The first is about ready to combine and has no insect problems. We had to spray the second planting several weeks ago for worms. The last planting is just beginning to bloom, with no worm sprays needed yet.

“Stink bugs haven’t shown up in the numbers expected for either cotton or soybeans. Despite a lot of sweeping and shake-sheet counts, I have yet to see the first redbanded.”

Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana:

“Even with this year’s rocky start, cotton has rebounded in the last 2 weeks, and I’m more optimistic. With this year’s rains, we haven’t watered several fields that generally require 3 or 4 irrigations.

“The early cotton is less than 4 nodes above white flower, and the last irrigations is under way. We’re trying to wrap up that portion of the crop, and high temperatures this week should force the plants to bloom out the top.

“Plant bug numbers haven’t been outrageous, and treatments have kept them in check so far.

“Some farmers tiptoed into cutting corn last week. Dryland yields are good at around 180- to 190-bu/acre. On better Macon Ridge soils, we’re averaging 200-plus and still haven’t moved into our best fields.  

“In soybeans, we’re in the thick of a redbanded stink bug battle and have treated some very early fields twice. In the last 10 days, we’ve sprayed later beans with a diamide to control bollworms. We’ve also put out Heligen.”

Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri:

“In many fields, cotton is in late bloom or has put on small bolls in the top. Other fields are at mid-bloom. Mostly, we’re 2 to 5 nodes above white flower.

“Rains prevented proper weed control, and that started several months ago. You can see pigweed and grass in some fields, but the main emphasis now is on getting the crop squared away.

“Plant bugs are mostly under control, although spider mite numbers won’t drop off.

“The early corn has finished and is in dry-down mode. The late-planted corn probably needs another 4 to 6 weeks.

“Soybeans range from R-3 to R-5. Some fields received a fungicide. I haven’t seen treatable levels of worms or stink bugs, which is rather amazing. At this point, it usually attracts pests.”

Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist:

“Later-planted cotton is running 6 to 8 nodes above white flower, and we’re fighting plant bugs. Since a big part of our cotton is well past cutout, plant bugs are concentrating in the younger fields, so control is harder with the regular insecticide rates.

“To deal with plant bugs, we’re having to get creative with tank mixes – maybe acephate/Transform or go up on use rates. Guys are typically running about 1.25 pounds of acephate or upping Transform to 2 ounces. The plant bugs are increasingly difficult to control as the summer goes on.

“The bollworm egg lay subsided. Now, bollworms are deep in the Bollgard 2 canopy, and control isn’t holding up because the worms are feeding on mature bolls.

“Worms usually run through July. At the end of that period, spray deposition is very good where plants are short and haven’t lapped. But when the crop is large and lapped — even if you do everything right – it’s difficult to get an insecticide into the canopy, and we’re dealing with that now.

“Spider mites are flaring during this hot, dry spell, but they’re localized, and guys are reporting proper control with abamectin.

“Everyone with storage is cutting corn. I’ve heard yields from 160 to 230 bu/acre.

“The stink bug complex has moved into our soybeans and is meeting thresholds throughout the state. Loopers are turning up but aren’t at threshold.”

 Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:

“This week, people are asking a lot of questions about bollworm control. They have lost a bit of enthusiasm because the cotton market has dipped, and they don’t want to spend more money. But the bollworms are forcing their hand in Bollgard 2 cotton. The Bollgard 3 and WideStrike seem to be holding up well.

“We just posted a podcast about some specific recommendations for bollworm control on the UTcrops News Blog (see link in the Also of Note section).


“A corn earworm flight started in late soybeans, and they’ve reached threshold in places in the Mississippi River bottoms. It’s been an odd bollworm flight – trickling movement in places but more extensive movement in others.

“Stink bugs are developing in our earlier soybeans, and that will progress as the crop hits R-5/R-6. The next month will be critical for our soybeans.”

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

“Heat is pushing this crop. Our early-planted cotton has been trying to prove all year that it will finish early, and it’s starting to open. On the other hand, we have fields just beginning to bloom.

“With the humidity this week, bloom tags are sticking and bolls are dropping. A fresh egg lay is under way and plenty of bollworm moths are apparent. We treated several fields today (8/13)). We knocked back stink bugs last week.

“We’ve expected target spot to flare up, but what we are seeing now may help us by knocking off some leaves. We are in about our twelfth year of fungicide trials but aren’t treating target spot since we don’t consistently measure a yield benefit. So, we’ll see what this year shows.

“Peanuts look absolutely wonderful – loaded up with low disease pressure. Southern blight is apparent in isolated spots in fields with a poor rotation. The better growers here averaged 6,700 lbs/acre in the last few years. Those yields help overcome poor prices, and we sure need peanuts to pull their financial weight.

“Our grain sorghum looks good. Sugarcane aphid pressure has been heavy. We sprayed every single acre once and then most of it twice, with a few fields even requiring a third application.”

Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:

“Cotton is steadily accumulating heat units.

“Plant bugs are hanging tough in cotton, and we’re at about 5 nodes above white flower or less. Termination is 5 nodes above white flower plus 250 heat units. Usually, we’d have plant bugs under control at this time. The numbers are probably due to cotton still being so green at this time of the year.

“We’re seeing more stink bug activity this year, and the threshold is 1 per 6 row feet. If you find stink bugs at that level, go ahead and spray.

“The bollworm flight is tremendous and stretches from the Louisiana line to the Missouri Bootheel. The 3-gene cotton is holding up well, but plenty of the dual-gene cotton has required two sprays. Damage in our unsprayed Bollgard 2 plots is running 25% to 30%.

“The worms are now moving into soybeans, and it isn’t uncommon to find 1 per sweep. Moths are gravitating toward the late beans at R-2/R-3 and also to beans that aren’t lapped and into drilled beans. For some reason, they like the drilled crop.

“Once the temperature tops 90 degrees, insecticides are slipping, so try to time applications when it’s below 95. We applied a good deal of Heligen this year, but the worm pressure is overwhelming the virus, so a number of retreatments were necessary.

“Redbanded stink bug numbers stabilized and don’t appear to be increasing. Treatment levels of greens and brown stink bugs are present through northeast Arkansas in R-5.5 soybeans.”

Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:

“A large portion of our cotton is moving into and through cutout. We’re picking up scattered bollworm egg lays – heavy in spots. Some of the older cotton is 2 to 3 nodes above white flower, so that’s changing decisions. Our threshold for live worms doubles — from 4% to 8% — once we hit cutout. Acephate plus a high rate of pyrethroid seems to be working well where we don’t want to spend more on a diamide.

“Plant bugs have been light for most of the state but are now showing up in hotspots. 

“Spraying continues for spider mite infestations. Research shows we can terminate spider mite applications when we’re roughly at 350 heat units past 5 nodes above white flower. Yield damage might still occur after that, but it isn’t economically advantageous to treat.

“Desiccants are going out on some of the earliest soybeans. Stink bugs will now move to the greener crop – and faster than we’ve seen lately, I suspect. Don’t be surprised if numbers increase quickly in beans that are mid-R5 or older. Loopers are scattered across the state, and those populations should pick up in the next few weeks.

“Combines are running through cornfields, but we still have some very late corn in spots.”

Proper scouting techniques, treatment thresholds and effective insecticides selection.
“Almost before the ink dried on my last commentary – where I observed that the low 60s should provide firm support – the trade war between the U.S. and China escalated once again.” – Jeff Thompson
The MFP program is a help. It may not be enough and may not save some, but it’s a help.
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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