The Southeast is still seeing treatable amounts of insects across most fields and are anxiously awaiting crop maturity where the plant can withstand the bugs. After a late start for almost everyone, applications are still being made as September approaches. In fact, some areas are battling the highest pressures yet this season, making this an even longer growing season than normal.
Scott Graham, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:
“We are progressing. We have some fields starting to have some cracked bolls, so we’re about ready to be done with those fields. We still have fields that have a long way to go, though.
“As far as pests, we’re seeing something unusual for south Alabama — embedded plant bugs. This isn’t unheard of in north Alabama, but it’s strange to see it in the southern part of the state.
“We’re getting a lot of questions about when growers can terminate pesticide applications, but it just all depends on where you’re at and what you’re dealing with. The first week of September is usually our average time to drop the treatments, but, like I said, we have some fields that are just behind. Stink bugs can cause damage up until about 21 to 24 days old, so protecting those bolls until they’re 3 weeks old is important for harvest.
“We’ve also had a lot of people concerned about spider mites. Even on fields that haven’t been drought-stressed, which is normally where spider mites are found, we’ve got some pockets where they’re still a problem. It can be difficult to know when to treat. We usually start with the forecast and advise to treat if it continues to look like a dry spell.
“There are still red banded stink bugs in central Alabama and people are prepared for those treatments. Those cause more damage than traditional stink bugs, so we have to be ready to deal with them.
“The looper traps seem to be going down in central and south Alabama, and it seems we have more velvet bean caterpillars now. That’s important to know because having those instead of loopers will affect insecticide decisions. Traps for loopers have actually gone up for the northern region, so we are watching for the next week or so to see if they build in the north.
“We’re also in the middle of another statewide fall armyworm infestation. There are a lot of treatments going out. They really are everywhere in grasses, so people really need to be looking out for that.
“We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for pest management, but we still have our hands full for now.”
“We’re getting some sunshine and that’s a good thing — we really needed sunshine. We’re just continuing to progress.
“In terms of insects, boll-feeding insect numbers have jumped up. It’s primarily stink bugs, but we’re also seeing high numbers of clouded plant bugs in some areas. We don’t usually deal with them around here, but they are almost as bad as the stink bugs on the bolls in some places. We need to be aware of them and monitor boll damage threshold when making decisions for treatments. It’s kind of new there are such high numbers in some areas, so I want people to keep it in mind.
“White flies are slowly building in some areas in south Georgia. Very few fields have needed treatment so far, but it’s important to know they’re around when making decisions for treatments. Some products that treat for stink bugs can really flare white flies, so that’s something to think about.
“Some fields are getting to a point where we can start to back off on our defense. Once a boll is 25 days old, it is typically safe from stink bugs. White flies, on the other hand, have to be scouted for until the day you defoliate. You just never stop checking for those.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“We saw 2% damage in bolls of 3-gene cotton, which is a big spike from the 0% we’ve been seeing. It was around 4% to 5% damage in the 2-gene, so it’s pushing close to threshold. The non-Bt cotton is at 35% to 40% damage, too. That’s as high as the pressure has been all season.
“We may be dealing with another round of bollworms here soon. Stink bugs were just everywhere in the untreated cotton this week, but most of our growers have been keeping them in check. But if someone hasn’t been keeping up with their fields, they would see a mess of immature and adult stink bugs. They are just really making a hard run here in the last few weeks. We saw some silver leaf white flies today, but not really anything to be concerned about yet. They don’t seem to cause a huge issue for us, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.
“In soybeans, the looper is the pest of the week. We had a call from someone who was dealing with a heavy population of those and velvet bean caterpillars today. We will probably see a good hit of those. There are a lot of stink bugs in the soybeans too, pretty much every major species. I also saw more brown marmorated stink bugs in soybeans than I ever have before in the coastal plain region of the state. They are reproducing like crazy. It’s not uncommon in other areas of the state, but this is definitely something new for our region.”