Texas Plains Cotton: Be on Lookout for Fleahoppers

    Cotton fleahopper. Photo: Danielle Sekula

    General Status

    It has been a wet, cool week and no one is complaining about the moisture, a few hailed on strips aside. Rainfall amounts are highly variable. By my best estimate every area in the Hale & Swisher area has now received at least 1-inch over the past week with most areas receiving many inches more.

    The rain has certainly delayed our scouting (and many producers actions) this week as we have only been able to scout about 50% of our acres this week with a few mudholes found by our scouts. There will be multiple issues of concern once the roads and fields dry enough to allow scouting and farming that go far beyond an evaluation of potential weather damage.

    There is a heavy strain on our residual herbicides and we are finding some fields with economic pest issues this week with unreachable/un-scoutable fields in an unknown state.


    I made the statement at the Plains Cotton Growers Advisory Group meeting this morning that I felt our weed control was, with a huge amount of effort and multiple hurdles, really pretty good, given the circumstances. The ‘given the circumstances’ statement can certainly be underscored.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

    I feel that our residual controls have been and continue to provide benefit it is clear that these latest rains are flushing a fresh batch of weeds with many that might be coming through our residuals.

    Dr. Peter Dotray, Texas Tech/Texas A&M AgriLife Weed Scientist, this morning at the Advisory Group meeting added for the region, “These rains is certainly a challenging situation for weed control, but one few are complaining about as we all know what happens without the rain… But, I would expect that our pre-plant residual herbicides are breaking, if they have not already, and our pre-emerge and early post-emerge herbicides are starting to break. This might need to be a consideration as we make our next pass with sprays to control the existing weeds in the field.”


    Of the 50% of our PPM scouting program fields we were able to reach this week ranged in stage from 3rd true leaf stage up to a rare 1/3 grown square. The vast majority of our fields are coming in between pinhead and matchhead square stage. I would broadly consider this crop behind in development compared to average for the area, but it is a really good-looking crop with the extra moisture, particularly the dryland.

    Despite it being July now, we did find one of our later fields with an economic level of thrips. These later fields certainly do not need to be set farther back from this pest, if present.

    Last week I expected to find a few scattered fleahopper infested fields. Unfortunately, I was not wrong. To date, in roughly 10% of our cotton fields we had to recommend treatment for this pest. We did have plenty of fields where no plant bugs were found, but I cannot say that this pest is concentrated in any pocket region in the area.

    These fields are scattered fairly evenly across both counties. They were among our older fields and did have annual issues with silverleaf nightshade or are nearby pasture/grass lands.

    If we found fleahoppers in out fields they came in between 1 fleahopper per 1.35 row feet (using the drop cloth method) up to 1 fleahopper per 38.2 row feet but treatable fields had experienced an increase in square drop from less than 2% up to 10-12% during the last week and had a significant portion of the population as nymphs having emerged from the egg lately.

    We did pickup a few Lygus and even a few stink bugs in our a few fields, but they seemed pretty subdued so far. We also noted some hefty hail damage in some cotton fields this week. In the worst case the producer lost 50% of the plant terminals but did not have a reduction in plant stand with plants growing back rapidly from alternate growth points.

    For now, we think it still best to keep these particular few fields, but it is severely set back in development and, likely in turn, yield potential. We will need to remind ourselves of this limitation once the field looks fully recovered late in the season with our inputs and agronomic management inputs.

    Corn and Sorghum

    We have had no better luck reaching anymore of our corn and sorghum fields than our cotton. The grain fields we have been able to reach are all still variable whorl stages with very few pests to speak of. We again noted a very light population of fall armyworms with a few bollworms (corn earworm/ headworm) in the mix feeding on less than 1% of just a few of our non-Bt and sorghum fields.

    So far, we have not noted any sharp instance or increase is disease pressure, but we should remain vigilant for a economic increase in fungal issues and other leaf and root ailments following this moisture.

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