Cotton – Southeast – More Plant Bugs In More Places – Scouting? – AgFax

    Owen Taylor, Editor
    Questions, comments, complaints? My door is always open.

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southeast Cotton, sponsored by
    the Southern Cotton Team of AMVAC Chemical Corporation.


    Plant bugs are the main focus this week in parts of our coverage area. See comments by Dominic Reisig, Phillip Roberts and Ron Smith.

    Rains that started late last week will give cotton a needed boost on a wide basis. Parts of the region do remain dry but enough rain fell in places to bring up cotton that had waited in dry dirt.

    Cotton planting is back in gear where growers were maybe held up by too much rain earlier and then by lack of moisture once that dry, hot spell settled over the region.



    Brandon Dillard, Regional Agronomist, Geneva, Alabama:

    “It rained over the weekend and it was welcomed. We went 27 days without rain and things were dry and coming to a stop.

    “In places, growers dusted in cotton. Hopefully, it rained enough in the right places to get it up. Amounts varied from a trace to 5 inches, but most everyone received at least some. Let’s hope the weather pattern shifts to something with regular rainfall.

    “A little plant growth regulator is going out on part of the earliest planted cotton that has pinhead squares. On the other end of things, I know farmers who are still trying to finish planting, so this crop is in a wide range.

    “We’ve had a bad trend with thrips. When we’re into May, you expect to be okay. The seed treatments and in-furrow applications should carry you along, but I’ve never seen thrips pressure this bad. They’ve been tearing up May-planted cotton in places, to the point that we lost some plants.

    “We’re getting into the fruiting period with the older cotton and are looking for plant bugs. A few applications have gone out.

    “We’re in kind of the same situation with peanuts – close to being finished with planting. We should wrap it up by the end of this week or early next week. I suspect that fungicides have started where guys planted peanuts in early April.

    “After all the heat and lack of rain, the dryland corn is pretty much over. Maybe later-planted corn still has a shot. But where I’ve sampled ears, I’m finding very few kernels and those are mostly small. I’m also worried about poor pollination, even where corn had moisture. We went through several 100-degree days, and that could have affected it.”

    Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:

    “We finally caught much-needed rain. It started on Thursday evening (6/6) and was still going in places today (6/10). It was sporadic but most people received from a half-inch to 2 inches.

    “In particular, the dryland corn needed it, and a lot of acres suffered due to lack of moisture. In places, corn has tasseled out and some still isn’t quite there yet. If anything, corn could use more rain right now.

    “At this point, cotton is young and doesn’t need a lot of water, but everyone was glad to see it rain. The earliest fields – planted in late April and early May — have probably been squaring for a week or maybe two. Very little, if any, PGRs have been needed thus far, but some fields will be primed for takeoff with the rain, and PGR applications and plant bug sprays will likely begin very soon.

    “The rain helped activate nitrogen that had been waiting for moisture. Some preemerge herbicides probably played out before the rain, but it may activate longer-lasting materials. That won’t help with weeds that are already up but growers can come back now with an over-the-top material and a residual. In those dry conditions, weed control had turned into a challenge.

    “Soybean acres are down in this part of the state but I’ve seen fields that look pretty good. Most are on 15-inch rows and a big portion have canopied. I’ve received calls about weed issues in beans but most control looks pretty good.

    “Wheat has been a bit surprising. So far, yields have been respectable, considering all the poor planting conditions last fall and all the wet weather into the winter. Also, it turned hot very quickly and wheat likely missed out on full grain fill in certain fields. I’m sure yields are low in places, but I’m also hearing averages in the 70s to low 90s (bushels/acre). If the rain holds off for a few days, farmers can start harvesting again in the middle of the week.”

    Kyle Skinner, Skinner Ag, Starkville, Mississippi:

    “Between Thursday and Sunday, 1 to 3 inches of rain fell, and it hit the cotton just right, although corn could have used a little more. Today (6/10) is the first day that we’ve sprayed for plant bugs and we’re also putting out a little mepiquat chloride.


    “Plant bugs are running 5% to 6%. Our older cotton has 3 to 5 squares and we’re trying to save them. If cotton is on good ground, I’m going with 8 to 10 ounces per acre of mepiquat chloride. On marginal ground, I’m backing the rate down to 6 ounces.

    “Corn has really started tasseling now. We saw tassels last week but more fields are at tassel now.”

    Chad Savery, Anchor Ag Solutions LLC, Fairhope, Alabama:

    “We’re in pretty good shape. With this last weather system, it rained 1.5 to 3.5 inches, plus a few showers popped up this afternoon (6/10) that weren’t expected. Before the rain, seedlings were scalding and dying in places when they emerged because soil at the surface was so hot.

    “The crops love this moisture and have responded in a very positive way. Where seed was laying in dry dirt, it’s been coming up after the rain. Mostly, we’re spot planting where cotton struggled for one reason or another. I don’t have any entire fields that need to be replanted. Our most advanced cotton is at 7 to 8 nodes.

    “We had enough thrips activity in places to warrant a few sprays, but I try not to treat thrips if I can avoid it. We still have scattered fields left to plant. The growers who dusted in cotton ahead of the rain look like the smartest guys in the room now because it’s coming up. In peanuts, we’re seeing a little aspergillus crown rot.”

    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:

    “We didn’t have rain for 3 weeks, but now we’re getting too much. There’s no doubt that we needed the rain, and we’re glad it came along. It started over the weekend and I poured about 5 inches out of the gauge at my home, and that was from several days of accumulation. It didn’t rain today but it’s in the forecast for tomorrow (6/12).

    “A lot of cotton is close to or at pinhead square, and plenty of folks are talking about plant bugs. In places, people are seeing squares on the ground. Much of that is likely due to a physiological response to 3 weeks of extremely hot, dry weather followed by too much rain.

    “Plant bugs are being found in places, so some of the shed might be due to plant bugs, but it is very likely not a widespread problem for us. Before the rains, I kept hearing reports of spider mites, but all the rain should have helped wash most of them away for now. The next thing will be plant bugs and aphids.”

    Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:

    “Rainfall totals varied quite a bit from this last system, from 8 inches at Mobile to probably 4 tenths of an inch in other areas. Most people did get a good rain but for a few folks it was terribly short. It was a slow rain over a 4-day period that ended last night (6/10), and every bit soaked in.

    “Tarnished plant bugs are very much turning up in cotton. Over the years we’ve seen how they will go to the oldest-planted cotton first. We’re getting reports of retention down to 60% in some of those fields, but in nearby cotton that’s somewhat younger, retention is at 80%. You can have a lag between movement into cotton and when you detect the square loss they cause.

    “Treatments are going out on most of the older cotton in the central and southern parts of Alabama, and it certainly needs to be sprayed. These sudden plant bug populations poured out of daisy fleabane as it dried down in that stretch of intense, dry weather.

    “With this big movement, we will see a definite peak, so one timely spray might solve the problem. That’s a positive point. In a season when the movement into cotton is more gradual, you can spray and take out what’s there but more will dribble in, and you have to treat again. In a season with this kind of big, sudden migration, it’s easier to make a treatment decision.

    “The threshold is 80% square retention or 2 adult plant bugs per 25 sweeps. If you don’t have a sweep net, there’s no way to quantify the number of plant bugs out there. In the heat of the day, they’re down in the plant and you might never see one without sweeping. Personally, I’d rather base decisions on the number of adult plant bugs.

     “As I mentioned, you might not see the effect on retention right away. But if plant bugs are in the cotton, you can react. Again, without a scout or a sweep net, you’re just guessing.”

    Jennifer Bearden, Extension Agricultural Agent, Okaloosa County, Florida:

    “We got a little rain, so right now we’re happy. Since most of our cotton is dryland, we had been sweating it. From 3 to 4 inches fell in most of our areas over a 5-day period. It started last week and rained through the weekend and even a little yesterday (6/10).

    “Most of our cotton is 30 to 40 days old and much of that is squaring. Some replants were necessary due to deer feeding. We’re mostly done with peanut planting. About the only thing left to finish are some soybeans.”

    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:

    “In places, folks are still cleaning up thrips in cotton but plant bugs are starting to move in, so they’re becoming the focus. Square retention is beginning to drop in places.

    “As far as sweep counts go, nothing crazy is turning up in the nets but counts are at or above threshold in places. Our threshold is 80% retention and 8 plant bugs in 100 sweeps.


    “One consultant described a case where retention was at 65% and counts were above threshold, so it clearly was a treatment situation. He was in the coastal plain and had never dealt with plant bugs in his area. Until he and I talked, he was hesitant to pull the trigger.

    “For a number of other people, plant bugs also are a new experience. Typically, their range in North Carolina is limited to the northeastern part of the state. But based on calls, plant bugs are spreading this year both to the west and south.

    “We’re in a wetter weather pattern but amounts are highly variable, and totals tend to be higher closer to the coast. Here at the Plymouth station, it rained 6 inches with this last system. But an hour west, it seemed to rain much less and at Raleigh the amounts were even lower.”

    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:

    “It’s been raining somewhere every day since the end of last week. Most people are getting at least some rain, which is a good thing. Totals have run from 1 to 4 inches. Enough fell to keep people out of the field across some areas. I’ve driven about 200 miles today (6/11) and haven’t seen any tractors running.

    “The rain should help bring up the rest of the crop where seed hadn’t germinated yet and the moisture also should allow growers to finish planting.

    “Insects are mostly quiet, although we are seeing what I would say are higher-than-normal numbers of tarnished plant bugs in cotton. That trend continues from last week. Only 20% of our cotton is probably squaring, so we’re talking about a limited acreage that would interest plant bugs at this point. But the counts I’ve seen are on the high side compared to other years during my career.

    “The numbers might drop next week. We at least hope that happens. Conditions have been hot and really dry, and we’re likely seeing a massive movement into cotton from alternate hosts as they’ve dried down. Maybe we’ve had just one big burst of plant bugs and things will settle back to normal. “In most years, they kind of trickle into cotton. This isn’t one of those years. Bottom line: check your earliest planted cotton. You’ll start seeing plant bugs when plants are at 10 to 11 nodes. It’s still too early to say whether this will be widespread, but plant bugs are having to be sprayed more than in a normal year.

    “On another note, I’m hearing from people who’ve found pretty significant thrips injury in fields that weren’t scouted. Aphids are around in very low numbers, with scattered hot spots. Spider mites had been building, but let’s hope the rain took care of them.”

    Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia:

    “We’re still planting and replanting cotton, and that’s the main focus right now. One big grower has 2,000 acres left to plant and it’s already June 12. A few growers also are replanting due to various reasons.

    “No cotton is blooming, although we may find a few early next week in our oldest fields. Growers are working on weed control and fertilizer applications. In a little cotton at pinhead square, we’re spraying for aphids and plant bugs.

    “Rainfall totals have varied widely. Over the last 30 days, some locations only received 2 tenths of an inch, while right down the road the totals have been 3 or 4 inches. In places, as much as 6 inches fell during the period.

    “In peanuts, growers are concentrating on weed control. Our first fungicide has gone out and peanuts range from just cracking to 55 days old. We had to spray for lesser cornstalk borers on a limited basis.

    “In field corn, stink bugs are probably as bad as I’ve ever seen them. We’re finding both browns and greens. Some corn is just pollinating and the older corn is approaching dent.”

    AgFax Southeast Cotton is published by AgFax Media LLC
    Owen Taylor, 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. Mailing address: 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047. Office: 601-992-9488.
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