Texas LRGV: Verde Plant Bugs Migrating from Sorghum to Cotton

    Verde plant bug on cotton leaf. Photo: Kate Harrell, Texas AgriLife Extensions

    General Situation

    Very hot in the Lower Rio Grande Valley with temperatures in the high 90s reaching heat indexes of 101. Good for harvest though this week as several growers were seen getting into their fields and harvesting their grain sorghum.

    In cotton several growers were applying growth regulators this week as well as a herbicide application for weed control as the pigweed has really taken off from the recent rains last week. I also saw several growers that did not receive that much rain this last week in the Lyford, Elsa, Harlingen areas begin to make their ditches and start to irrigate their cotton once again since it is so hot and dry already.

    For those that have sugarcane growing there were several growers this week spraying for rice borers.


    According to the Texas Boll weevil Eradication Foundation in the LRGV, their best figures are approximately 30,000 acres of planted cotton have been replanted into another crop (this is failed cotton acreage that was zeroed out and now is replanted with another crop). This acreage is still part of the total cotton planted acreage for 2020 in the LRGV which is 166,503.1acres.

    Cotton that was failed and replanted with another crop is still being monitored by Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation. Those growers that have another crop planted behind failed cotton acres need to be vigilant and do their best to control volunteer cotton that has emerged as it can create high numbers of boll weevils for next season’s cotton crop.

    In Northern Tamaulipas, Mexico there are 21,827.4 planted acres of cotton for 2020. A lot of the cotton around the LRGV is still green with blooming out at the top and some dryland fields are already in cutout stage with the boll load looking good in most fields.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

    As far as pests go in cotton this week, the main pest we are seeing in cotton in the Mid Valley areas such as Santa Rosa, Mercedes, Combs and then east in Harlingen, Rio Hondo areas is the Verde plant bug. Many growers around these areas are harvesting their grain sorghum and Verde plant bugs tend to migrate out of the sorghum and into the cotton fields during this time to feed on young soft cotton bolls.

    The Verde plant bug will pierce immature bolls and squares with their mouth parts causing boll malformation to complete fruit loss. Verde plant bug adults are about ¼ inch long in size and are light green in color with long antennae and red eyes and nymphs are a very bright neon green color. Treat for Verde plant bugs when finding more than 20-25 bugs per 100 plants.

    Many fields I visited had 5% to 8% Verde plant bug infestations but there has been a hatch in nymphs so an increase is definite, and those fields will probably need to be sprayed next week. We did find several fields that have a 20% to even a 40% infestation and those fields need to be sprayed as soon as possible to avoid severe boll damage or even boll loss.

    A few fields were spray for fleahoppers that had 20% or more infestation in dryland cotton around Cameron and Willacy counties as well as irrigated cotton in the Lyford area being treated for fleahoppers too.

    Growers along the river were spraying for whiteflies again this week as pressure had been building since the recent rains last week and some fields had visible sooty mold growing on the sugars excreted by the whiteflies feeding.


    In sesame we are seeing some sesame leaf roller activity in young sesame in northern Hidalgo county as far west as McCook. Also picking up on the sesame leaf roller in the Lyford area as well. Some growers have been having to spray due to sesame leaf roller feeding.

    Saw a few tarnished plant bugs and mirids in sesame and couple of corn earworm feeding after checking several fields this week but nothing that warrants treatment. Mainly just seeing honeybees pollinating in blooming sesame.

    For great info on sesame leaf roller feeding and damage please click on this link where my colleague extension Entomologist Holly Davis goes into detail explaining this pest in sesame.

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