Texas Plains Cotton: Fleahopper Pressure Remains Primary Concern

    Photo: Kate Harrell, Texas AgriLife Extension

    General Status

    Last night (7/15) the area received another rain event. According to Pivotrack Rain Page, areas south of Hale Center toward Abernathy received a 1/10 up to a 1/2 -inch while around Kress fields received anywhere from 1 1/2-inches up to 3-inches.

    We can certainly say this is a widespread and timely rain event that occurred just as irrigations were about to get into full swing again. I am unaware of any hail or otherwise harsh weather issues yet.

    Unfortunately for our scouting schedule, the heaviest rains were on the last fields we needed to cover for the week. We will be scouting these fields just as soon as possible as there are several issues ongoing.

    The fleahopper pressure in cotton remains our primary concern and need to scout already delayed fields soon to stop any potential damage that might be acquiring but it is a busy time of year for our ‘late’ crops.


    We did spy a few very rare blooms this week in a few of our PPM scouting program cotton fields, but the vast majority of our fields fell in between ¼ grown square and ¾ grown square. Fruit retention, and conversely, fruit drop was very dependent up-on the fleahopper population present.

    It was common for fields without economic fleahopper pressure to exhibit 7-15% square drop. If the fleahoppers were making nuisances of themselves, that drop rose above 15-25% pretty readily with a few reaching over 30%. Of the fields treated for fleahoppers last week, we are seeing a steady improvement in square retention with new squares coming into place with plant growth and fruiting node development.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

    Around 60% of our PPM cotton fields have been recommended for fleahopper control treatments so far with a few more likely to finish out the week. In several of our fleahopper rich areas still seeing pressure like we have not seen in many years that includes continued reinfestation and extended egg hatching.

    In fields where producers or custom applicators opted for shorter residual products, the fleahoppers might need to be treated again soon as the control runs out if this level of pressure remains. I would urge producers to choose longer residual control options that prefer-ably conserve beneficial insects.

    In several borderline fields we are seeing an uptick in beneficial populations successfully keeping the fleahoppers in check without any treatment. In still more fields, fleahoppers are hard to find.

    We have reports of very high Lygus and even some stink bug populations existing in nearby areas, but we are still only finding just a few sporadic Lygus not anywhere near ET yet with just 2 stink bugs found in the whole program cotton fields this week. Weed control, PGRs and fertilizer applications remain a steady concern for most of our program cotton fields again this week.

    Sorghum and Corn

    Our oldest corn is silking and going through pollination now while our youngest is at an early V2. Our youngest sorghum is emerging and our oldest is in flag to boot. We are still not seeing any major pests in these program field crops. We noted a few small YELLOW sugarcane aphid colonies, one green bug colony, some easy to find but far below ET fall armyworm whorl feeding, and a few Banks grass mite colonies.

    We have reports of serious disease issues in corn north of Amarillo in corn. While conditions should be perfect for several disease issues in our corn this summer, we are not finding very much yet. In fact, I have not even been able to train my new scouts and interns on the different types of rust yet.

    We have reports of sorghum midge all the way up in western Kansas already and we should be scouting our oldest fields for this pest next week as they come into bloom stage.

    We also have a report of a small infestation of sugarcane aphids from off the caprock in extreme eastern Floyd, but no sign of them in our Hale and Swisher program sorghum yet. This should be right on ‘schedule’ for their late July arrival.

    The high volume of late sorghum we have will be at risk from the sugarcane aphid soon. I remain confident that we can control this pest economically even in our late sorghum with all of the IPM plans developed from the lessons learned about this aphid, but we will need to be on guard soon and ready implement solid control when they arrive.

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