The Southeast is struggling to get in fields as rains continue for days at a time.
Growers are dealing with a wide range of insects due to varying ages of cotton among fields.
Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:
“First of all, we’re just overwhelmed with scattered thunderstorms. We haven’t been able to get into some fields for days and even weeks. It’s a problem with weed control, insect control and plant growth regulators. We’re looking at a couple more days of rain coming in right now, so we are just holding onto the hope of things clearing up next week.
“The earlier planted cotton is blooming, and more are reaching bloom every day. We are seeing some natural pinhead square shed.
“We have some fields with bugs in them, but this season is very different. We are basically managing on a field-to-field basis because there is no real consistency by region. Right now, we are seeing tarnished plant bugs, clouded plant bugs (and those are almost as bad as the tarnished plant bugs as far as numbers) and brown stink bugs.
“Statewide, we have fields of different ages with different needs – they need to be surveyed with drop nets, sweep nets, etc., and need to be treated according to what we’re seeing. I’m pretty confident in saying next week when the weather clears up, most fields will need an insect clean-up spray.
“We just can’t allow for any more damage. We can’t afford to lose any bolls to insects, and the brown stink bug will try its hardest. It’s just so difficult to take care of the problem at-large when the entire stage has different ages of cotton. We’re looking at stink bugs in the oldest cotton, immature plant bugs in the next oldest and the youngest cotton is being surveyed for mature plant bugs that have moved in. It’s just a very unique year across the state.”
Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:
“We’re seeing some fields with higher populations of plant bugs. Now that we’re in bloom, we need to switch our sampling over to a beat sheet method. The threshold is 2-3 per sheet sweep sample. If they need a beat sheet, we give them away for free at the Tidewater Research and Extension Center.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“It’s just raining almost every day. It’s very wet in the Southeast and it’s kind of hindering some field operations. We’re struggling to get in the fields to put out plant growth regulators and weed control. We really need to be protecting from stink bugs. I never want to turn away from rain, but we need some opportunities for insect control.
“I would say progress is pretty good overall. As far as insects go, I sampled some fields yesterday with my team and we were looking for plant bugs. One field was pretty clean, and another had quite a few. There was some reproduction and some younger bugs out there, but when it was all said and done, it hadn’t reached threshold. So yeah, growers need to get out and look for plant bugs, even as we move into stink bug season. Aphids seem to be on the decline. Not sure if the fungus has made it here yet, but it’s looking like we’re heading out of that issue. Many growers have been asking about aphid treatment, but I usually say there’s no real benefit to treating them and it’s better to wait it out.
“We’re getting close to the third week of bloom for the oldest cotton, so we’re becoming pretty serious about internal boll damage. Especially as we move into weeks four and five of bloom.
“With soybeans, we’re just waiting for something to happen. No complaints in that area yet, but I’m sure it’ll come.
“In my traps at the station, bollworm and tobacco bloodworm counts are going back up. Especially with this wet weather, we will see more of those type of insects emerging in the soil.”
Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Independent Crop Consultant, South Georgia, North Florida, and Northeast Alabama:
“We’ve just been wet. We really need some dry weather to get in the fields. We’ve seen anywhere from 2 to 10 inches of rain in the past two weeks, and in some places, it rained 12 out of the last 14 days.
“Our cotton ranges from 10-leaf to the third week of bloom. The main pests we’re dealing with are plant bugs, stink bugs and spidermites. We are not seeing much movement in the Bollgard 2, it’s looking pretty good. We just need some dry weather so we can get some fertilizer and weed control out there. The cotton that has been treated looks great; we’re just kind of behind in the other fields and are also seeing some fertility issues in sandy grounds. We just need the rain to slow down a little and we will be good to go.”
“We’ve been getting showers about every day. Definitely have an abundance of moisture. As far as insects go, the main thing is to be scouting and making good decisions. We continue to have isolated pockets of plant bugs. If we have them, we need to be addressing them. Other than that, we’re probably starting to make some stink bug applications on our earlier planted cotton. Right now, near the end of July, we need to be looking for corn earworms. All in all, we need to be scouting and making good decisions about moving forward.”
Jennifer Bearden, Extension Agricultural Agent, Okaloosa County, Florida:
“I hate to sound like a broken record, but we are just still in the same boat with the weather. We’ve been getting constant rain. Saturday (July 17) people were able to get into the fields, but most of those efforts went to peanuts because we were behind on fungicide sprays.
“There’s not much going on with cotton. Some have been able to slip in the fields and get things done. There are some fields that could really use another shot of fertilizer and weed control, but things surprisingly look really good. I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking, especially the earlier planted cotton. We’re hoping things don’t completely dry up because the roots are already conditioned to not being very deep. All they know is multiple rainfalls in a week, so hopefully it doesn’t get too dry now. We just need enough to get us in the fields.”
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