The Southeast finally received some relief from the drought thanks to recent rainfall. Planting efforts are nearly done and stands look healthy.
Weed control takes priority now as thrips pressure seems to be declining and rain continues to fall.
Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:
“Well, not a lot has changed here. We have had some scattered thunderstorms, and that was a big help, but the rain hasn’t reached everywhere yet, so we really need some more. Our cotton is progressing now with these warmer nights, but we are very concerned about being so late. It’s a statewide concern. We’re at about the 2- to 4-true leaf stage, which is several weeks behind where we’d like to be right now.
“We still have a good bit of thrips injury, so we’re still spraying where it’s needed. I’m not seeing much else as far as pests yet, but we are assessing the plant bug situation as it comes. We have a huge supply of plant bugs on fleabane that will be moving shortly to find a new host, probably cotton. We’re expecting a long and slow movement, and I’m not sure how much the plant bugs will impact the cotton since we are so late.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“We got some heavy scattered rains, which was really good for us because we are mostly rain-fed acres.
“We are still dealing with thrips, which is pretty rare for how far along we are. I had someone bring in some cotton that was at 4-leaf stage, which is usually far enough along we turn loose from treatment, but it was eaten up. This happens in a rare year, but yes, we are still having to treat for thrips in some areas. I think it may have been from the early season treatments not having a chance to activate.
“Other than thrips, I’ve seen a case where grasshoppers took off the tops of some seedling plants and I think we’re looking at a replant situation. We also saw some spider mites showing up pretty heavily in peanuts, but I always say the best product for spider mites is a heavy rain, which we got last week, so hopefully we won’t have to deal with them in cotton.
“We still have some soybeans just coming up. The only issue I’ve heard so far is a few cases of grasshoppers.”
Brandon Phillips, Phillips Ag Services, LLC, Fitzgerald, Georgia:
“We’ve been dealing with scattered showers, with some areas getting rain and other spots are still dry. We are 90% to 95% done with planting, but if we get some good rain this week, we will finish up planting.
“Some aphids are beginning to show up, and we are starting to sweep for plant bugs. I don’t think we’ve run into any problems yet, but we’re still checking. A lot of corn has been planted around here, and corn acts as a better host for plant bugs until the corn plants start to dry.
“We have a lot of herbicides going out for weed control, but some growers are trying to hold back and wait for the rain. Herbicides tend to not be as effective in dry conditions.
In our oldest cotton, we’re starting on some PGR and nitrogen applications.
“In the peanuts, we are all done and planted in my area. We have peanut plants ranging from 7 days old to 50 days old. The oldest areas have already had a fungicide treatment. Aspergillus and tomato spotted wilt virus have both shown up, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about yet. We’ve started to pick up worms in peanuts, but, again, nothing even at a treatable level yet. We are just monitoring that. We’ve also seen lesser cornstalk borers and they, along with the aspergillus, thrive off of these drought conditions. Other than that, nothing much to report.”
“We have gotten much-needed rain in many areas. Hopefully we can get all of the cotton up and finish up planting. We had some growers who were planting in extremely dry conditions, but this rain was the push we needed.
“It is a pretty normal year for insects. We just went through a couple weeks of extremely heavy thrips pressure. We’re seeing a few aphids in some hot spots on fields, which will eventually spread to the whole field, but that’s pretty typical.
“It’s just a pretty quiet, normal year. Growers are spraying herbicides and other standard production practices are going on, but that’s about it. Our earliest cotton, mainly planted in April, is starting to square, so we just need to monitor for square retention and plant bugs.”
Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:
“Well, there’s really not much to say — nothing is really going on with insects. We did get some pretty good rain over the weekend. Some people are still catching up, and some are looking at if they should replant for soybeans. We’re keeping an eye on the small cotton plants, but once they get to the 5- or 6-leaf stage, we’ll be done scouting and can just let them go.”
Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, South Georgia, North Florida, and Northeast Alabama:
“We’re finishing up the last bit of planting — we’re about 85% done. It had been really dry here, but we got a good bit of rain lately and that has really helped. We’re just finishing up some double crop planting, following behind some grains and sweet corn. Our cotton stands look really good; it looks like there will be hardly any need for replanting.
“We’ve had some heavy thrips pressure and we’re spraying for those. We are seeing some aphid pressure starting to show up, but not anything too bad. The main focus for pretty much everyone is weed control and fertilizing.”