Southeast Cotton: Squaring Cotton Pushes Growers to Scout for Plant Bugs

    Tarnished plant bug. Photo: University of Georgia

    Karli Stringer, Contributing Editor

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southeast Cotton, sponsored by the Southern Cotton Team of AMVAC.


    It is time to scout fields. Populations are growing for both plant bugs and aphids, so treatments are going out.

    Growers everywhere are enjoying the slow before the storm as they prepare for stink bugs and bollworms.



    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia

    “We need to be absolutely sure we are scouting all squaring cotton for tarnished plant bugs. I am seeing them more often than in previous years. Not all fields need to be treated, but many across the state have reached threshold. There are at least a few acres that need to be treated everywhere in Georgia, so we need to be aware. We don’t usually have problems with plant bugs, but all fields need to be scouted just in case.

    “Aphid numbers are rapidly increasing, and that’s to be expected. There’s not much to say there other than to note we rarely can show an economic benefit to treating aphids in Georgia.

    “Cotton planted in April is setting bolls. Once bolls reach about 10 to 12 days old, it’s time to look for stink bugs by looking for internal damage. Based on observations and sweep nets, stink bugs might be above average this year. The only way to truly know is to get out there and scout.

    “Aside from insects, there isn’t much to say. We are off to a relatively good start, and farmers are busy with weed control. There are a lot of PGR applications going out, and the crop is progressing. We haven’t experienced many problems with the weather; we are just catching a few rains here and there. Sometimes it is a little challenging because it’s wet, but I won’t ever complain about it being a little bit wet.”

    Jennifer Bearden, Extension Agricultural Agent, Okaloosa County, Florida

    “The tropical storm we received tried to do some damage, but I think we will grow out of it. It has been extremely wet, which has been a big problem for getting in the fields and doing any kind of applications. Even if fields need something, our hands are kind of tied. I am hoping the rainfall will slow down. It looked like some fields were drying out enough people could get out there, so hopefully we can hold off on any significant rainfall and get our growers back in the fields next week.”


    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina

    “We are seeing aphids build more in cotton, as well as a growing population of plant bugs. I really want to stress growers need to be getting out and scouting on pre-bloom cotton. I’m not really concerned with aphids — I think they are usually just food for the good insects in the fields. Plant bugs are what we should typically be watching for. Most of the crop here is at pre-bloom or right at the bloom stage, so growers need to be checking for plant bugs and knowing when to treat. In South Carolina, we’re expecting tarnished plant bugs to be an issue a week before and after bloom.

    “Right now, we’re just trying to push through until we get to the stink bugs and bollworms because those will be our top priority.

    “There’s not much going on with our soybeans. There’s a lingering problem with grasshoppers, which could be a problem in some areas in the vegetative stage.”

    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina

    “The main thing we’re seeing in cotton is the tarnished plant bug. It seems they are widespread, but populations are heaviest in the northeast area of the state. With cotton squaring right now, I still haven’t heard stories of just poor retention. It seems like the populations are lighter, but I’m getting a lot of questions about treatment options. For July, we are promoting Transform for the sake of preserving beneficial insects in preparation for the bollworms.

    “Some places are still struggling from the extremely wet early June, but I think moisture is pretty good. Most places aren’t too wet that it’s a problem. So far, I’d say conditions are pretty normal for the summer.

    “In corn, we are pretty much finished with spraying for stink bugs. It was a lighter year than 2020, and 2020 was certainly lighter than 2019. I think we are out of the woods with those bugs. In soybeans, I’m not hearing much of anything, which isn’t abnormal. Some fields are flowering and some of the early fields even have pods.”

    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension, Entomologist, Tidewater REC

    “A lot of our cotton is in the first or second week of squaring, and we aren’t seeing many high numbers of plant bugs. In about 30 to 50 fields this week, we only found one over threshold. So, I’d say the biggest thing is to look before you spray. We are not seeing many high numbers and I don’t want to get in a cycle of spraying earlier than necessary. Other than that, it’s pretty quiet around here and I hope it stays that way.”

    AgFax Southeast Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Ernst Undesser, 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: Farm Journal, 8725 Rosehill Rd., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215
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