Texas Plains Cotton: Thrips Still a Problem in Later Fields, Be on Watch for Plant Bugs

    Tarnished plant bug, aka lygus bug. Photo: Lisa Ames, University of Georgia, bugwood.org.


    It was a hot, dry, week with high winds that hampered the last of our ‘catching up’ herbicide sprays, assuming our producers could find product to spray. The rollercoaster weather looks to be back in place with unnormal cool weather just around the corner but rain back in the forecast for this weekend and next week.

    Our crops have certainly been through a lot, and I dare say that I do not know of a cotton field with a legitimate chance of seeing a bloom by July 4th, but our crops are making good progress. The ample of number of late fields are developing rapidly and making up ground while our older fields are sluffing off old damage and setting yield potential.

    Weed control looks pretty effective on the whole with some glaring difficult fields.

    Wheat harvest has begun on what few fields have been left for grain and seem to be standing well for the combine. The reports I have indicate that grain yields are a bit low, in the 20-bushel range, but for the very light irrigations invested and extreme drought conditions over the winter and spring, aside from an almost too late to help wet May, are not disappointing.

    Weed control in front of the combine has been as noteworthy as the weather.

    With area pastures, roadsides, and field margins drying rapidly and as crop irrigations pickup, a likely heavy pest population could easily migrate to become a threat to several fields soon.


    Our Plains Pest Management scouting program cotton ranged in stage from 2nd true leaf stage up to matchhead square stage with a few ¼ grown square stage plants sprinkled through a few older fields. While I do think that July 4th blooms are a near impossibility, I do not truly feel the cotton crop is late.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

    Most of our younger fields are replants and many of these are dryland. Thrips are still an issue on our late fields not sporting square yet. We also still had a few fields with economic populations this week that required treatment. These were again the minority of our fields.

    Most of our fields are ranging from pinhead to matchhead square stage and are at heavy risk of plant bugs. In most fields we found no pest pressure and no fruit drop. We did find a few fields with 8-20% fleahopper infested terminals with just under 10% square drop and a few Lygus adults adding to the mix. Some of this drop was likely a result of plant bug feeding, but a fair amount should have been environmental.

    Wind conditions made it difficult to tell if original cause of the issue. Thankfully, neither of these factors are over economic threshold of 35% fleahopper infested terminals with 8-12% plant bug caused drop at this developmental stage of cotton. Nonetheless, we will be on high alert in these fields next week for possible issues.

    These fields should develop to 1/4 to 1/3 grown square next week and old enough for us to make use of drop cloths that we will utilize alongside our whole plant inspections to give us a clearer picture of the pressure, easier. Thresholds for cotton at that stage should be 1 fleahopper per 2.5 row feet cotton or 1 Lygus per 3.5 row feet with 10-15% plant bug caused square drop.

    I will be surprised if next week I am not reporting a handful of select fields with economic plant bug issues.

    Corn and Sorghum

    Our youngest corn and sorghum is just now germinating while our oldest is at V10. We truly have two groupings of grain crop plantings with a ‘normal’ planted group hovering around V8-10 and a younger group ranging from just germinating to V3.

    Despite reports of heavy fall armyworm flights and whorl stage feeding in areas to our south, we are only seeing very light damage in our program fields with the species culprit primarily being bollworms (also known as sorghum headworm and corn earworm).

    Disease pressure remains light and we did not see any mite colonies or any other pest of issue in these fields this week.

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