Texas Cotton: Evaluating Control Strategies for Thrips, Wireworms, and Aphids

    At this time of the year, we are engaged in planning for the upcoming growing season. A fair amount of my time and effort will be invested on thrips research. We are initiating a statewide project to evaluate insecticide seed treatments used in cotton. The rationale for taking up this project is due to the fact that in the mid-south cotton growing states (i.e., Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee) researchers have documented that the efficacy of thiamethoxam (Cruiser) on thrips is decreasing due to the development of resistance within thrips populations.

    The thrips populations developing resistance in the mid-south region consist of tobacco thrips, Frankliniella fusca. Therefore, it is important to know the specific species of thrips attacking our cotton because it may make a big difference in terms of the efficacy of our cotton seed treatments. One of the goals of this project is to determine whether thiamethoxam is losing efficacy on thrips populations in Texas.

    In Texas we have several cotton growing regions and there is limited information on which thrips species are abundant within each of these regions. Therefore, we are planning to collect thrips from cotton at different locations and identify the specimens to the species level. Both of these projects (insecticide seed treatment efficacy and regional thrips species composition) will help us detect the development of resistance to thiamethoxam in thrips, if there is any. In addition to these tests, we will also be conducting thrips control performance evaluations on currently available insecticides, plus any upcoming potential products.

    We have plans for conducting research to understand the incidence, damage and how to manage wireworms in cotton. Although wireworm problems are not an areawide problem in High Plains cotton, there are several fields where producers have seen this problem for consecutive years.

    Last year we conducted two trials (one in Gaines County; second in Bailey County) to evaluate chemicals for bollworm control and those results are available in the 2013 Annual Reports distributed by the IPM-Agents of those counties. This, year we will continue evaluating different insecticides as well as some tank-mix options for caterpillar pests. In addition, I have received a request to evaluate a few new products against fleahoppers and Lygus. Therefore, wherever we see adequate and relatively uniform populations of these insect pests, we will set-up our trials for the products.

    Evaluating chemistries that are soft on beneficials is always a priority, especially in the arena of aphid management. So, we will look for opportunities to conduct an insecticide trial for aphid management. Our Extension personnel in counties across the High Plains and our independent consultants will be keeping a close eye on insect situations throughout the crop season and we will make our producers aware of those situations via newsletters and other media. Finally, I would like to thank our producers and all of the cotton industry partners in the region for their hard work and perseverance.

    Please feel free to give me a call at 806-746-6101 (office) or 806-407-2830 (cell) if you have any question or concern regarding insect pests in your cotton. I look forward to a great cotton production year for the High Plains!

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