Texas Plains Cotton: Still Evaluating Establishment, Variable Thrips Pressure

    Uneven cotton emergence. Photo: Texas AgriLife Extension

    General Status

    Another week has progressed in 2022 and we are still evaluating fields for establishment. It is safe to say that our failure rate will be high, despite some relieving rains. For many fields, even irrigated fields, it just was not enough.

    High winds, cold weather, seedling disease, wireworms, blistering heat, and an overall lack of soil moisture have left many cotton fields very light on plant populations with many just having too many gaps to be profitable.

    On the other hand, several area fields are off to a running start. These seem to have had an extra rain shower or avoided by happenstance timing some of the more adverse conditions. The pests do not seem to be cutting us any slack through these difficulties so far in this young growing season while the weeds are throwing all the flushes at us they can.


    Our Plains Pest Management scouting program cotton ranges in stage from cotyle-don up to early pinhead square stage. Most fields are coming in between cotyledon and 2nd true leaf stage with plenty in the final stages of emergence or are receiving the ‘last rights’ as a failed field.

    Thrips remains surprisingly high, yet below what I would consider normal. With the economic threshold for thrips remaining at about 1 thrips per true leaf stage, our field numbers are ranging between 0.08 up to 1.83 thrips per true leaf stage with most yet untreated fields ranging between 0.5 and 1.5 thrips per true leaf stage.

    More on Cotton

    Unable to display feed at this time.

    Areas in what would typically be wheat areas are still experiencing the normal and higher thrips pressure despite the great reduction in surviving wheat acres. However, not all fields in this area are requiring treatment but around 80% do. In the southern areas, this had been dropping to around 40% of fields being over ET so far.

    I can say that once treated, thrips numbers are not rebounding as quickly as we are used to this year with solid control coming from one treatment. In the very few fields that miraculously have a few early pinhead squares, we are seeing no fleahopper pressure or square drop yet. Beneficial populations are lagging very far behind with very few turning up in our cotton counts yet.

    Corn & Sorghum

    Our sorghum fields this week range from germination to V7 stage while our only program corn field stands at V6. We still had no pest of note in either field this week. Diseases even remain hard to find in these fields so far. Weeds continue to be a concern for all fields with herbicide treatments running fast and furious.

    Getting rolling this year for the program seems just as difficult as the crop. With labor issues and other setbacks, we are a bit late getting the Hale and Swisher bollworm traps out but should have data for you starting next week.

    This year, we will also be trapping fall armyworm, western bean cutworm, and southwestern corn borer working within a larger regional trapping program. We should be able to start sharing that data here as well next week too.

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