Southeast Cotton: Battling Stink Bugs and the Weather

    Karli Stringer, Contributing Editor

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


    The Southeast is continuing to treat stink bugs and bollworms while strategically trying to avoid flaring up other insects.

    A tropical storm is soaking parts of the Southeast but other areas are begging for rain. Weather conditions for the rest of the season will determine the outcome of the crops.



    Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University:

    “We continue to be primarily focused on bugs — plant bugs and stink bugs. The plant bug populations are dropping off in most areas. Stink bug numbers have been climbing the last few weeks, but they seem to be tapering off now, which probably has a lot to do with control applications. We are seeing a reduction in damage and populations, which is a good sign.

    “The earlier planted cotton is really looking good. The younger cotton has a long way to go. We are seeing some yellow in a few areas and it looks like the yield potential is rough right now.

    “There was some disappointment with the tropical storm moving east and missing us. A lot of dry pockets in the state were really hoping for that rain. We’ve had some scattered storms, but some solid rains would have been nice.

    “We have some spider mites building in a number of fields, particularly along the borders. The problem doesn’t seem to be large enough to justify treatments, so we are just letting the mites go.

    “There’s just a little bit to mention in the soybeans. Looper numbers have been up for much of central Alabama. Control methods have been applied. We also have some velvet bean caterpillars in the mix as well. The No. 1 problem, though, is red banded stink bugs. They seem to be in pretty high numbers through our black belt, which is west-central Alabama. Those will be a pretty big challenge in our later planted beans.”


    Sally Taylor, Virginia Tech Extension Entomologist, Tidewater REC:

    “It’s been a pretty quiet week, actually. The biggest thing is that we’ve had a lot of rain, so nobody can really make applications as timely as they need to be for insects. At this point in the season, it’s really all about evaluating where you are to determine your decisions. Growers are looking at yield potential and the insect pressure to decide when they want to stop providing protection.

    “The bollworms have been really quiet in both cotton and soybeans, with a few exceptions in some of our soybeans. We aren’t seeing many stink bugs, either. We do have some loopers. At this point I’m just trying to warn people about using pyrethroids when treating for other issues because those kill all the natural enemies of the loopers, which causes them to flare up.”

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

    “I’ll start by saying this tropical storm is just too much rain. It is enough to cause some issues with timely applications for insects and diseases.

    “In our latest pheromone traps, we saw bollworm numbers are going down. We are rounding out that first flight of them and should see the second and final peak in the next week or so. We scouted this morning (Aug. 17), and it wasn’t difficult to find copious amounts of damage in the non-GMO cotton. There was no damage in the 3-gene cotton. In the 2-gene, we saw 3% boll damage and 2% square damage, so it was running close to threshold but nothing too crazy. That cotton was planted in the middle of May, so those numbers are normal for us. Anything planted later is more susceptible to damage, though.

    “It is still stink bug month, and we’re seeing a lot of them. I’ve seen southern green stink bugs and brown marmorated stink bugs in cotton. Actually, I’ve seen more brown marmorated stink bugs in cotton this year than ever before. With the rain, I’m not worried about anything else. The focus is on stink bugs and bollworms, in that order.

    “In soybeans, we’ve seen a little bit of defoliation from loopers. Everyone is holding off on treatments and waiting for the hit from the migratory caterpillars. Nothing is widespread yet. There are some brown marmorated stink bugs and red banded stink bugs in there. It’s nothing crazy, but it is something people should be aware of and check for.”

    Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Independent Crop Consultant, South Georgia, North Florida, and Northeast Alabama:

    “We are currently in the range from the first week of bloom to the first week of open boll. We just got anywhere from 2 to 5 inches of rain from tropical storm Fred, and the rain wasn’t too bad. The wind is what was so rough. It twisted the cotton around and we’re seeing some fruit shed from that. We have some yield potential lost from all of it.

    “We have some isolated spots with problems from spider mites and white flies. We have treated a couple places for spider mites but haven’t treated white flies yet. Stink bugs are very much still a problem, along with some plant bugs.

    “We’re really just trying to get out PGRs and spray for plant bugs and stink bugs as needed. In Georgia, they are about 10 to 14 days behind normal after such a heavy rain season earlier this year. We have a long growing season so even though we’re behind, we should still fill out the top of the crop. The next 30 days will determine our crop, and rain will hurt. If we can just manage our water, we will have a great crop.

    “In the peanuts, we have a pretty wide range. We are anywhere from 60 to 127 days old. From what we’ve seen in the profiles so far, it looks like they’re running a little bit behind normal by about 5 to 7 days. Looking at the heat units around here, they are also running about 10 to 14 days behind, so that kind of shows some consistency.

    “There are loopers in the peanuts and soybeans. It seems like the disease control is doing well; we aren’t seeing a lot of leaf spot or white mold. We are expecting a bad year for stink bugs. We don’t really spray for stink bugs, but we are seeing them steadily turning out life cycles, so we will definitely see consistently high populations. I would say pressure is higher than normal.

    “We haven’t harvested any soybeans yet. We have some ultra-late soybeans in the 1-leaf stage, and we have some we’re about to desiccate.”

    AgFax Southeast 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.

    Mailing address: Farm Journal, 8725 Rosehill Rd., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215
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