Southeast Cotton: Plant Bugs Stealing the Show

    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.


    The Southeast is begging its growers to scout fields. Populations are growing for both plant bugs and aphids, so treatments are going out.

    Growers are preparing for another wave of rain from the tropical storm.



    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:

    “We are seeing movement of adult plant bugs into cotton in treatable numbers in the northern part of the state. Specifically, we are getting reports in Lawrence and Madison county, which is the Tennessee Valley of north Alabama. We had some earlier movement almost a month ago, which was really only in the older cotton. Now, this is more widespread. On the other hand, we’re not seeing much movement at all in the May-planted cotton in central and south Alabama.

    “Aphids are building. We are seeing them clumped in fields, which is how they initially infest and then they spread. We are not overly concerned, and we don’t usually see a yield benefit from treating aphids. If growers are going out with PGR applications, they may want to include something for aphids, just because it can make it easier to scout for other problems if aphids are out of the way.

    “Stinkbugs are still in corn in high, high numbers. We will see a huge movement of stinkbugs later in July from corn to cotton. We are also getting reports of fall armyworms in grasses or soybeans where grasses are being treated.

    “As far as the crop itself, our oldest cotton is beginning to bloom. That’s the small percentage amount that was planted in April. Most of our cotton is still 10+ days away from bloom. We have had abundant, and sometimes even excessive, rainfall in most areas of the state. Some areas received 5+ inches over the 4th of July weekend. The cotton is making up some progress and recovering from being late. Some fields have already made up a week in delayed maturity, and hopefully we’ll see that continue.”


    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:

    “Some of the normal-planted cotton, which is what we planted around May, is blooming. We’re seeing more plant bugs and more aphids. Right now, it’s predominantly adult tarnished plant bugs. I am just trying to stress scouting for those plant bugs and monitoring for square retention. Aphid reproduction is also high, so those populations are increasing too.

    “We will probably get some rain with the upcoming storm, but nothing bad. We’ll look forward to any rain we can get across our sandy state.

    “In soybeans, we’re still seeing a lot of grasshoppers. The tobacco bloodworm activity is up in recent weeks, so we may need to pay attention to that.”

    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “We are still getting some timely rain. Some people may be getting rain more frequently than they would like. The cotton is progressing just fine.

    “I’d like to emphasize people should be scouting for plant bugs. It sounds simple, but this isn’t a common pest for Georgia, so it needs to be said. There are plenty of areas in the clear, but there are many fields that need to be addressed. There are reports of immature plant bugs going around, so I really want to urge growers and consultants to be out there and checking. It’s going to be important for plant bug management that at blooming we’re still maintaining 80% retention. If we can accomplish that, we will still have maximum yield potential.

    “We’re also getting a lot of calls about aphids. I’m being asked if we are seeing the fungus that kills aphids. We aren’t seeing that yet, but we can probably expect it soon. I would say growers should be looking under leaves for gray, fuzzy aphid cadavers. That is a clear indication the fungus is present and that aphids will crash within a week or so. In the meantime, I would say we don’t usually treat aphids, but if you’re seeing them cause stress to plants and slow down maturity, it may be a good call to treat. Especially in our late cotton, we don’t want anything slowing it down.”

    Jennifer Bearden, Extension Agricultural Agent, Okaloosa County, Florida:

    “We’re wet, and that’s about all I have to say. We are really having issues with not being able to get in and spray herbicides. It’s just too wet, and that is basically across every commodity. Our cotton crop and even peanuts have had a distinct gap where it was too dry to plant and now it’s too wet. I’ve heard from the western side of Florida, and they are looking forward to getting some of the rain from the tropical storm, but us in the panhandle hope it misses us.”

    John Beasley, Independent Crop Consultant, South Georgia Crop Services:

    “Well, we’re behind on cotton. We’re anywhere from 2-leaf cotton to the second week of bloom. We have a lot of weeds we’re trying to clean up. We’re spraying the most plant bugs I’ve ever sprayed. We’ve also got aphids, but I’m pretty sure I recently found the fungus that kills them, so hopefully we’ll see those dying off soon.

    “I’m in southeast Georgia, and it looks like the path of this tropical storm is heading directly over us. We’re predicted to receive 2 to 4 inches, so it shouldn’t be terrible, but if we get more than 4 inches, we will only be father behind.”

    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.

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