Midsouth Cotton: Are We Out of The Dark? Late Season Bollworms but Nothing Alarming

    Bollworm, cotton square. Photo: Aaron Cato, University of Arkansas

    Laykyn Rainbolt, Contributing Editor

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


    Plant bugs are still around, but many see the large stink bug populations coming to an end in a couple weeks. Stink bugs are at typical levels, but don’t let them sneak in with lapses in sprays for plant bugs.

    Bollworms are still below average populations, but all dual-gene cotton has been sprayed. Three-gene technologies are still holding well.



    Joel Moor, Moor Ag Services, LLC, Indianola, Mississippi: 

    “The cotton ranges from the second week of bloom to 5 or 6 NAWF. We’ve been spraying plant bugs, aphids and scattered spider mites. Spider mites have mainly resided in the areas that missed a rain. Bollgard II will be getting its second diamide application because we had another big bollworm flight this week. Bollgard 3 looks good.

    “We had a little southern rust in corn, but diseases have been relatively low in all crops.

    “We have a few guys with dryers starting to cut a little corn. The moisture is still a little high, but those guys have the capabilities to handle that. The rest of the corn is at black layer or just a few days from being at black layer. We watered one last time, but we are done with it at this point. Based on the ears, it will be an average year and possibly a little below average in flood areas.

    “Soybeans range from R1 up to R6.5. We have been spraying stink bugs in the older beans, and the younger beans all got a treatment for bollworms a couple weeks ago. Fall armyworms popped up a couple weeks ago, and treatment was fair, I would say. We kept them beat back enough the beans were able to grow out of it. We tank mixed a pyrethroid and Intrepid, which worked pretty well. Loopers are popping up as well.”

    Sebe Brown, Louisiana Extension Field Crops Entomologist: 

    “In cotton, we picked up a pretty good-sized worm flight in central Louisiana. North Louisiana is also picking up higher numbers of worms. I’m not going to say it’s to be expected, but I’m not surprised they’re late. Normally at this time of year, we should be on the tail end or past our worms. We’re hitting a second peak right now, which is roughly 14 to18 days after the first peak we saw this year. This timing is about right for emergence. A lot of guys are on their second application of diamide. There’s a lot of 1646 in our environment, so a lot of guys are being very aggressive with it, as they should.

    “With 90-cent cotton, really good growing conditions and a really good fruit load, I think we have the potential to make some good cotton this year. If we get a hot, moderately dry August, I think we’re going to make some really good cotton. These guys are ready and willing to protect the dual-gene cotton. The worm flight is transitioning to higher egg counts, and it goes all the way from south-central Louisiana to north of I-20. A lot of eggs are being laid in a lot of cotton.

    “There’s a pretty good number of worms flying. Based on the crop phenology, I think this will be the end of the worms. However, when you have white blooms come out of the top, there will typically always be a late flush. It’s always up to those guys if they want to hold onto those bolls or really start trying to protect those 1 to 3 top bolls of cotton. We haven’t quite got to that point yet.

    “We haven’t had any control issues in three-gene cotton. I have had zero complaints this year, which is a great thing. That means it’s holding well. Guys are impressed with the fruit load. Everything’s good with the three-gene cotton thus far.

    “Plant bugs have started to taper off in certain places, but some guys are really starting to have issues with control. I think a lot of it is due to misapplications, such as using the wrong tips. I’ve had reports of subpar control with insecticides but come to find out they put the insecticide out with AI tips, which are made for Dicamba or other herbicides. You want to use something that is made for insecticides and gives you the ability to get good coverage, such as flat fans.

    “I haven’t heard anything on spider mites, but we did see cotton aphids have a little blow up a week ago. Either the Fungus moved through or guys really took them out with Transform when treating the plant bugs.

    “Stink bugs are starting to filter their way back in the soybeans. I think a lot of our acres are starting to hit R5. I know desiccation shots have gone out this week, and more will be going out next week for sure. Our soybean crop is moving along.

    “As our soybeans are starting to mature, stink bugs are starting to move back in. I haven’t really gotten a whole lot of calls about redbanded stink bugs, but I think that’s going to start picking up pretty quick, especially with a lot of our beans starting to turn.

    “Corn earworms are still present, although my call volume has drastically dropped. I think guys are getting them under control, or they’re cycling out and moving on to another host. For the most part, guys have been pleased with whatever insecticide they used from Intrepid Edge to halogens or diamides.

    “We’re starting to pick up defoliators. At the Dean Lee Station in central Louisiana, green cloverworms, velvetbean caterpillars and soybean loopers are being found more regular than a week ago. It’s that time. August is when we typically start kicking off with defoliators, so we’ll see how bad these populations get as August progresses into September.

    “We haven’t had any bad soybean looper years in the past six or seven years. With the really cold weather we have had and the weird things the worms have been doing this year, especially the fall armyworms, I am curious to see what’s going to happen with our defoliators in our beans.

    “Head applications are still going out on our grain sorghum for a lot of sorghum webworms. One of the most common things I am hearing is guys seeing webworms and then corn earworms behind that.

    “Sugar cane aphid has been eerily quiet for the past month. I’ve had a few growers who had to make applications a little early, and they just became nonexistent for whatever reason. We’re just not seeing them. We have a large number of grain sorghum acres this year, so it could be they are just so diluted across the abundant number of acres. Guys are a lot more aggressive with them too, so I think we’ve learned a lot since 2013. Guys are really aggressive when they handle these insects, so they don’t allow them to build up to damaging populations before they treat. I think the really good preventative control is going a long way too.”

    Scott Stewart, Director of West TN AgResearch & Education Center, Jackson, Tennessee:

    “Cotton gained back some earliness with the hot week we had two weeks ago. Plant bug and stink bug infestations are pretty typical, but don’t let stink bugs surprise you. They are good at sneaking in, especially if you haven’t sprayed plant bugs in a while.


    “Our bollworm moth catches in pheromone traps remain unusually low, but there are still a few reports of moths, eggs and small larvae being found in Bollgard II varieties. If you are seeing this, it is a good time to consider applying a diamide insecticide, such as Besiege, Prevathon or Vantacor. However, given the low number of moths, I wouldn’t assume this will be needed in every field of Bollgard 2.

    “We are seeing a lot of fall armyworm moths in cotton. This is causing concern, but honestly, I’m not too worried for a couple of reasons. First, we have a fair amount of three-gene cotton, such as Bollgard 3 and WideStrike 3, and I wouldn’t expect problems in these varieties. Second, we’ve used a lot of Diamond, which does a good job of keeping fall armyworms in check, and it has some residual.

    “I am getting several comments about aphids, which is something I’d expect after using a fair amount of Diamond and/or acephate. We rated a test today where three quarters of an ounce of Transform was excellent at controlling aphids. The truth is, you can rarely justify making a special trip just for aphids but keep this in your back pocket if you need to treat for plant bugs or another pest. We will sometimes see pretty good aphid control with Bidrin, especially if you haven’t used it already.

    “Corn is maturing nicely and appears to be a generally good crop, with exceptions in either direction.

    After the run of fall armyworms over the last couple of weeks, we are back to normal in soybeans. Stink bugs are building as the crops progress, particularly green stink bugs. Stink bug populations often start to build around R5 and won’t peak until R6 or later. We don’t need to get lazy scouting soybeans until they reach at least R6.

    “We’ve seen some generally minor defoliation of soybean from green cloverworm, and kudzu bugs are also building in some places. Both are easy to control if you are taking care of business. Other than that, I’ve heard very little about corn earworm in late soybeans or any mutterings about loopers. I’m expecting a late corn earworm moth flight, so we still need to closely scout our latest maturing soybeans, in particular.

    “Final warning, I would not be surprised if we have another round of armyworms in our bermudagrass pastures, sorghum Sudangrass or millet planted in duck holes. In fact, I’d be more surprised if we didn’t. Thinks can happen fast, so keep your eyes open!”

    Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas: 

    “We’re still spraying plant bugs in cotton, and we’re about a week away from the finish line to get out of these plant bugs. Spider mites are under control. Worms have been fairly quiet so far, but all of our cotton is Bollgard 3. So far, the three-gene technologies are holding well.

    “In the soybeans, we are spraying a lot of bean leaf beetles. Although still low populations, stink bugs are picking up. We just started picking up a few bollworms this week (week of Aug. 9). Most of our soybeans range from R3 to R6.5, and we will be turning loose of about 20% of our bean acres next week.

    “We are still spraying a few rice field borders for fall armyworms (FAW), but it isn’t a widespread issue right now. Tree lines seem to be the real hotspot for FAW. Rice stink bugs are very spotty, but scattered treatments are going out. The numbers aren’t high, but Lambda seems to be doing a good job in controlling them. No pumps have been turned off so far, but I expect that to change this week with draining to follow next week. I think some rice will be cut the last week of August.

    “I think corn and rice harvest will start about the same time. Corn is getting watered one last time and then we will be done with it.

    “We have a pretty good crop shaping up, but you never know what the future will hold.”

    AgFax Midsouth 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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