Cotton – Midsouth/Delta – Bollworms Head North, More Cotton Moves Into Safety Zone – AgFax

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    Laykyn Rainbolt, 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.


    Bollworms are developing farther north this week. Flights and egg laying are subsiding in the southern and central Midsouth.

    Plant bugs remain a factor in places. Spider mites also have required attention in some fields, especially in areas that missed recent rains. Aphids have sprung back to life again on what sounds like a localized basis.

    More cotton is past the point that insects will matter. A big portion of the crop is at or approaching cutout.

    Insect pressure continues building in soybeans. Redbanded stink bugs continue to move northward, and a selection of defoliators are present.

    Corn harvest has cranked up in more areas.



    Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Ventress, Louisiana

    “We’ve had to clean up a few late plant bugs and bollworms. The numbers justified spraying but nothing has been terrible. Reports from up in the Delta indicate heavy bollworm pressure there in the two-gene cotton. Since the Fourth of July we’ve had a little pressure from bollworms, but it’s been light overall. We’d gladly take this every year. The same goes for plant bugs. When we did have to treat plant bugs, the results were very good.

    “Hot nights earlier caused a lot of small boll shed. What’s on the plant now looks pretty nice, though, and we’re trying to keep the top crop in good shape. We haven’t let go of any cotton yet but are moving close to that point.

    “Corn harvest is going. Where we suspected very good dryland yields, that’s turned out to be the case. Those fields are probably averaging 225 to 250 bu/acre dry weight. Most of the other corn has been in the 200- to 225-bu/acre range. We’re happy with that, especially considering some of the ground it’s on.

    “The thing that stands out to me about 2020’s corn crop is the amount of pure sunlight we’ve had. This spring, it was the highest amount of quality sunlight I’ve ever seen. Usually, we don’t have that many cloudless days here, but it was really obvious how few cloud shadows moved across the countryside this year.

    “Soybean harvest is underway now in the earliest fields where sugarcane will be planted. No feedback on yields yet, but those beans certainly look very good.

    “Our other MG IV soybeans are at R6.5 or in that range, and we’re pretty close to lining up our harvest-prep applications, depending on when fields were planted. We’ve sprayed stink bugs at least twice in those fields and a third time in places.

    “For the most part, redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) haven’t shown up in tremendous numbers like in the past. However, I’m pretty sure we’ll still have to deal with them in the late MG IVs and early MG Vs. Soybean loopers are present in treatable numbers, but only in those late MG IVs and early MG Vs, and that’s a limited part of our soybean acreage this year. Soybean loopers could be so much worse, but we’re not treating them on a wide basis so far.

    “A little late-season aerial web blight (AWB) has appeared in places. We went through a week of rain about two weeks ago, with plenty of rubber-boot days, and I’m fairly sure that triggered AWB.”


    Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri

    “We’ve been fighting plant bugs pretty hard the last two to three weeks (as of 8/10). It seems like we are getting things under control, but something always flares up just as you think you’ve got a handle on them.

    “Plant bugs have been the main issue, so far. In the worst fields, we’ve made 3 to 4 sprays. As usual, fields around corn are among those with the highest number of treatments.

    “In cotton, we are still spraying for red spider mites. In the worst-infested fields, two applications have gone out. For the most part, though, one application seems to be taking care of them.

    “Bollworms are a frequent topic of conversation down south, but we haven’t seen anything too major here. However, we did treat a couple of fields for bollworms this week.”


    Hank Jones, RHJ Ag Services, Winnsboro, Louisiana

    “The heat is causing the cotton to wrap up pretty quickly. We are already near cutout on a lot of acres, but some irrigated, late-planted fields still require pest treatments. Overall, though, we are rapidly approaching the end of this cotton crop due to the high heat over the last 7 to 10 days (from 8/10).

    “We are down to our last irrigation on most of it.

    “Harvest will start in 5 to 6 weeks, I’m guessing, but that highly depends on the weather. Depending on conditions, we could be harvesting cotton in a month. I don’t have any open bolls yet, but it’ll mature quickly.


    “In some of the later-planted irrigated soils, we are still fighting plant bugs, although these aren’t concerning populations. One could almost let the numbers build up because they are sitting so high in the plant. The heat is limiting the younger immatures’ survival, too. We have a couple weeks left to deal with plant bugs, based on the age of our youngest cotton.

    “We treated a limited number of acres last week for bollworms, but the pressure hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary for me

    “Although it’s nothing yield-limiting, we’re finding patches of target spot and other trash fungal diseases in the tops.

    “Things are a little more active in the soybeans. Redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) are here to stay at this point in the year. The majority of the acres I check have been sprayed at least once for RBSBs, and 15% to 20% have been sprayed twice. This will be the biggest pest across all the crop for the rest of the season.

    “That second treatment was triggered by an explosion in the redbanded numbers. When beans reached R5.5 to R6.5, RBSBs rapidly gained a foothold. I am actually checking a lot of beans twice a week to assure RBSBs are not coming in behind me. All the treatments going out for redbanded stink bugs are working well, so far.

    “Most of our beans are R5.5 or older. We will probably start putting out Gramoxone next week, but the forecast shows some showers for late this week. Most of my guys with beans close to being ready are harvesting corn right now, so a lot of the beans may be past the point of ideal Gramoxone application.

    “We are starting to pick up a few loopers, but populations are not high enough to spray for specifically. As we continue to treat RBSBs, we are bound to flare the loopers.

    “South of I-20, most of the corn is being harvested. Yields are 5% to 10% above what we expected, and a lot of corn acres are yielding 200-plus bushels per acre. The only yield issues I’m hearing of are in areas where northern corn leaf blight got bad, and those yields are slightly disappointing. 

    “If it’s going to rain, it needs to do so this week. Some beans and cotton could use a little rain, but it’s going to interrupt corn harvest. In 10 days, the cotton will be opening up and the beans will be maturing, so I’d rather it not rain at that point.”


    Tyler Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Arkansas

    “Some of the oldest cotton has about a week left for further irrigation. Most of the cotton is 3 to 5 NAWF, and we are spraying bollworms like crazy. We’re in the first week of the heavy flight. We sprayed a good amount of Bollgard II acres last week for egg lay, and what wasn’t sprayed then is being sprayed this week.

    “In Bollgard 3 cotton, we’re going with a bifenthrin-acephate spray for treatment-level plant bugs. If a bollworm slips through the three-gene technology, that mix has worked well to eliminate those.

    “We’ve let go of over 50% of the corn. One of my growers will start cutting corn in the next two weeks (from 8/10), going at high moisture and running it through a dryer. For the majority of my guys, it will be another month before harvest really starts. Most of the corn is at or beyond the 75% starch line.

    “In soybeans, we’re pretty much just fighting bollworms now. Everyone is trying to justify what to spray on $8 beans for bollworms. Bollworm sprays aren’t cheap, but those worms cause so much damage that you can’t afford not to spray.

    “Luckily, I haven’t heard of any issues with redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) in our area. I keep up with what people around Marianna are seeing because they usually get pests before we do. If August stays hot like it is, followed by a warm September, the late-planted soybeans will likely need a treatment for RBSBs.

    “We will be digging peanuts in a month.”


    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist

    “Our bollworm trap catches in cotton have pretty much gone to zero, which is what we expected. We saw a big surge last week, but counts dropped from 150 moths per trap down to 20 this week. Egg lay has declined, too. Hopefully, that is the last of this flight. 

    “A fair amount of time is left in the season, so we may still see a few bollworm spikes, but I hope the majority of the flights are behind us.

    “It is extremely hot and dry, and what rain was in the forecast has now been eliminated for the next 10 days (as of 8/11). This is great news for anyone harvesting corn. Also, cotton is rapidly gaining heat units, so it will quickly mature past the plant bug and bollworm susceptible stages. When it comes to cutting corn and finishing cotton, I’m always thankful for a hot, dry August.

    “This is spider mite weather. We are still finding them, but the cotton is slowly gaining enough heat units that spider mites will no longer be an issue. 

    “Plant bugs are still hanging on, depending on the location, and are concentrating in the small amount of later-planted cotton that is at 6 to 7 NAWF. They are also concentrating in the top of the plant as the blooms move closer to the top.

    “Guys are setting up for a final cleanup shot to take care of everything they can. In particular, the earlier-planted cotton is approaching the point that it can be turned loose, and everyone is itching to do so.

    “A big migration of redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) is underway in the northeastern part of the state. I’m getting a lot of questions regarding treatment options. As we harvest corn, the native stink bugs are concentrating more heavily in soybeans, too. 

    “Depending on the stage of soybeans, the redbandeds mixed with the native stink bugs are presenting quite a challenge to growers.

    “Defoliators are also on the rise and steadily moving into beans. Guys are still finding loopers every day and velvetbean caterpillars are turning up in large numbers.”


    Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi

    “Our cotton is anywhere from cutout to 3 NAWF. We are running the last irrigation on quite a bit of acres ahead of when bolls begin opening next week. Right now, we think we will start defoliating cotton around September 10. Hopefully, we will then have pickers running around September 20. 

    “We are making applications for native stink bugs. Aside from a few hotspots requiring a spray, bollworms have really calmed down. Those hotspots have been a few isolated fields of later-planted cotton. Plant bugs and spider mites aren’t issues at this point, either.

    “We aren’t seeing anything of concern with disease in cotton yet. What we’re finding is normal for this time of the year.

    “Most of the corn is at least at black layer, and a few growers started harvest today (8/10). The moisture levels are still a little high, but I think by the beginning of next week a lot of harvest will be starting.

    “It is hot. We could really use a good rain, but the forecast is only in the medium range – around a 50% chance. We have short root systems due to so much rain in the beginning of the season, so crops are drying out quickly in this heat.

    “I’m ready to get this season finished up.”


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

    “We’ll have open bolls next week, I think, and the crop looks really good. The forecast calls for rain over the next 7 to 8 days (from 8/11). We had one stretch with 16 or 17 days of rain, which ended about 10 days ago. Going into that period, we already had more-than-adequate soil moisture, so it wasn’t like the crops were suffering. The biggest part of the rain fell in counties around Hattiesburg.

    “With all that rain, we fell behind on Pix applications. Target spot also came in really badly in places, and I’ve never seen it get that bad that fast. In places, we’ve been applying fungicides just to hold onto the top 35% of the foliage. Target spot blasted through the canopy and leaves were dropping fast, and it didn’t matter which variety you planted.

    “That cotton does look better and cleaner now (8/11). I don’t know if that’s due to the fungicide, the drier weather or some combination of both. For certain, this drier weather was just what we needed, and we’re to the point that we actually could use a good rain. But we don’t need another extended pounding like that last one.

    “In our latest-planted cotton, we’re again running into bollworms and bollworm eggs, plus brown stink bugs. Aphids blew up a second time, but the fungus is taking them out. This later cotton got in a hurry, and it sure seems to be finishing fast.

    “We’ll look at some of the older cotton one more time next week. I’m not saying we won’t check it again, but there isn’t a lot we would do in it. Overall, our cotton crop looks fine, although I really don’t know how that’s possible, considering this season’s conditions.

    “In peanuts, we’re about 30 days from harvest in the earliest fields. Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is present, but it’s a virus and we can’t do anything about it. TSWV does seem to be getting a little worse every year.

    “Overall, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it’s not a train.”


    Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee

    “As a whole, we’ve seen a substantial uptick in bug activity in the last 7 to 10 days. Also, a fair number of bollworms are showing up in some cotton, but the moth flight is not as big as I predicted.

    “The moth flight is late, but so is some of our cotton. On younger cotton, get ahead of the game and, if warranted, treat with a diamide. On the more mature cotton, a cheaper alternative like a pyrethroid and acephate mix should be sufficient since the older crop doesn’t need extended residual.

    “Some cotton in drier, earlier-planted areas is already past the susceptible stage. It’s well into cutout and at 350 to 400 DD-60s past NAWF 5. However, a bunch of our crop is at 4 to 7 NAWF. If the younger cotton is Bollgard II, it’s very likely we will be spraying it for bollworms.

    “Guys are still spraying for plant bugs and stink bugs in the later cotton. Although spider mites and aphids have been light all year, we are seeing a some spikes in infestations now (as of 8/12), but that’s common for the end of the season.

    “Insects in soybeans are pretty active. Green cloverworms (GCW) are showing up in pretty heavy pockets, especially in later planted fields. We don’t usually have to treat for GCWs, but treatments are going out in those pockets – particularly in later beans. People really need to get out and scout the later soybeans, but GCWs aren’t in every field.

    “The good thing about GCWs is they are relatively easy to control. But don’t just run out and spray them because they often disappear as quickly as they show up without a treatment. We do have a larval-based threshold but watching for the defoliation threshold is often a better indicator of if treatment is needed. If your beans are watered and actively growing, the plants will stay ahead of GCW.

    “In addition to GCW, we’re seeing several types of armyworms, saltmarsh caterpillars, and corn earworms. However, this mix is not everywhere. Scout closely and make sure you actually have a reason to treat.

    “Stink bugs, and in some places kudzu bugs, are starting to build a little. They are still behind schedule, and I’m not expecting a large number of sprays for another couple of weeks.

    “In places, we’re accumulating a lot of defoliation from multiple types of worms. Three types of insects each might be below threshold in a field, but in certain fields they all might add up to justification to treat.

    “Don’t make a panic spray. Again, closely scout and make sure you need to spend the money.

    “Corn harvest will start in 7 to 10 days, and we’re just waiting on it to dry down. Here in Jackson and other dry areas, some of the corn ‘prematurely matured’ from lack of water.”


    Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist

    “A lot of this cotton is finishing up. Most guys I’ve talked to are between 4 NAWF to completely flowered out the top. In the next 10 to 14 days, a lot of cotton will likely be turned loose.

    “A few plant bug hotspots have popped up, so treatments will likely be going out on the cotton that has a little time left before it matures. Spider mites are also still being treated in a few areas.


    “The big worm flight from the weeks of July 27 and August 3 is starting to decline, but we are still finding a few straggling eggs. The egg lay has certainly declined from what we saw 10 days ago. I see light at the end of the tunnel with most of this crop.

    “The attention is really moving toward soybeans. Redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) continue to increase and move farther north. Every day, people are calling about RBSBs hitting threshold in new areas farther north.

    “Don’t think that you’re missing RBSB just because you’re hearing of high numbers near you but not seeing any in your fields. We see this sometimes for whatever reason, but we are definitely finding higher numbers and more frequent sprays are going out every day for RBSBs. They will likely continue to increase as long as we have green soybeans, and they are really concentrating in the early R6 beans.

    “Native stink bug species are also present but RBSBs take the spotlight when they are in the mix because they are so damaging.

    “Loopers are still here and are being treated in more places. I wouldn’t say they are completely out of control, but they are becoming widespread, and more treatments are going out. A few bollworms are still straggling along in soybeans, but that has mostly subsided.”


    Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist

    “Egg lay is continuing in cotton, but most everyone has it under control (as of 8/12). A lot of second applications of Prevathon and Besiege have gone out in south Arkansas. 

    “Based on our plots in south Arkansas, the three-gene cotton is still holding well. It has not required treatment, but we are seeing slight damage in WideStrike 3, although it’s not yield-limiting.

    “A lot of growers are still dealing with plant bugs, and applications are still going out across the state. Mostly, people are using an acephate and bifenthrin tankmix to also help knock out bollworm moths.

    “Spider mites are getting worse, and several applications have targeted mites. Aphids are also trying to bounce back a little, but I don’t think they will amount to a large concern. The acephate-bifenthrin sprays are partially to blame for the increased aphid activity because it wipes out their predators. 

    “Bollworms are still very active in soybeans. It seems like numbers are a little higher in drilled and broadcast beans, but everyone should scout the R2 to R4 fields for developing populations.

    “Redbanded stink bug (RBSB) numbers have jumped considerably in south Arkansas. In areas where we had been seeing the occasional 1 to 2 in a field, the counts are hitting 6 to 8 RBSBs per 25 sweeps. Several growers told me they had practically no RBSBs but are now catching 4 to 8 per 25.

    “In addition to populations building, they are moving north. We’ll need to watch the late beans closely through the rest of the season. I do expect counts to continue to increase.”


    Joel Moor, Moor Ag Services, LLC, Indianola, Mississippi

    “Another big moth flight came in, probably the heaviest this year. Last week we sprayed all of our Bollgard II cotton with a second shot of Besiege or Prevathon for worm eggs. We’re checking behind those applications, and they seem to be holding, with no worms coming through. Plant bugs also were running right at threshold, so we added Orthene for them.

    “We’ll probably let go of some cotton in a week (from 8/12). Any of it that was just sprayed will not be treated again. But with some later-planted cotton, we’ll probably make at least one more application.

    “We’re watering everything this week, running water down the rows in furrow-irrigated fields and running the pivots around once or maybe twice, depending on the maturity of the cotton and whether it rains. The forecast says we have a 50% to 60% chance tonight, so we’ll see what that does.

    “In soybeans, we sprayed redbanded stink bugs (RBSB) around Greenwood on two different farms operated by two different farmers. We’ve treated some loopers, as well, and also have had to spray green and brown stink bugs, mainly in fields along the Yazoo River.

    “We’re beginning to pick up a few RBSB around Indianola. We’re finding about a half-threshold of RBSB and then another half of a threshold between the greens and the browns.

    “None of my growers have harvested any corn yet, but it won’t be long. One farmer I know around Itta Bena cut some early this week, and another grower in that area began harvesting corn, as well. They’ve got grain dryers. Nothing has started full force. Where anyone is harvesting corn, it’s in fields planted really early before rain shut down things for a couple of weeks. In two weeks, I expect everyone will be cutting corn.”

    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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