Friday, August 31, 2012

Update for Week of August 26

The cotton insect control season is basically over. I say that realizing that there are a few late maturing fields within the state that may still need a stink bug spray. There are even fewer fields that have high numbers of tarnished and clouded plant bugs present. Where growers are attempting to make a top crop, in fields that have exceptional yield potential, plant bug controls may still be applied. Our greatest concern now in cotton is boll rot and disease. The past few days of overcast skies and rain showers have increased boll rot. The next weeks forecast is much the same. Other than a few southwestern counties, the state was spared from the excessive rainfall from Isaac.

At present, the insect action is primarily happening in soybeans and to a limited degree in peanuts. The lep feeders are occurring on soybeans state wide. We have more soybean loopers on beans in the Tennessee Valley area of North Alabama than I can ever remember. This complex also includes the green cloverworm statewide and the velvetbean caterpillar as far north as Selma and Montgomery in central Alabama.

Loopers, (all are the soybean looper, more difficult to control) are occurring at 1 to 8 or more per sweep. Most of our beans are drill so we cannot use a drop cloth. Our threshold experience with loopers using drop cloths is well established at 5-8 per row foot. We are wrestling with a sweep net threshold. Two loopers per sweep are not causing more than 5% foliage loss while 8 per sweep is causing 30-35% foliage loss. Our threshold is 20% foliage loss with beans at the stage they are now. So somewhere between 2 and 8 loopers per sweep is a treatable level. Based on my field observations I would treat in the neighborhood of four loopers per sweep.

Stink bugs are increasing in beans and will likely continue to do so in the days ahead. Therefore, in many fields a stink bug material (pyrethroid) or acephate (Orthene) may need to be added as we treat for loopers with the recommended insecticides of Tracer (Blackhawk), Intrepid, Steward or Belt.

One or more soybean fields in Southwest Alabama are infested with the garden fleahopper at damaging levels. This is a first for this insect on soybeans. They occurred on peanuts in that area a couple of weeks ago.

Some peanut fields are also infested with this mix of caterpillar pests. In this mix we are also finding fall armyworms, southern armyworms, corn earworms, cutworms, yellow striped armyworms and immature burrowing bugs.

Both soybeans and peanuts need to be scouted weekly for the remainder of this season and future seasons. The old method of spraying an insecticide on soybeans or peanuts when fungicides are applied is really just a stab in the dark. The odds of this being good timing for insect control is somewhere between slim and none. With the price of beans we have to do a better job with insect control than automatic sprays based on the stage of the beans.

Most of our comments in the next week or so will be directed towards soybeans and peanuts.

Soybean Loopers Threaten Alabama's Soybean Yields

Soybean loopers became an economic threat to soybean growers in Baldwin County (on the Gulf  Coast) this year during the first week of August. Soybean loopers were treated in many Blackbelt (west central Alabama) soybean fields this week as looper numbers increased and defoliation levels rose. Now farmers on both sides of the Tennessee River are preparing to spray numerous soybean fields for this pest for the first time since 1988. Densities of soybean loopers at the Fairhope Research station across the bay from Mobile were an average of 8 per sweep (all sizes) in test plots that were averaging an estimated 10 to 15% defoliation when an insecticide was applied on August 7. Eight days later defoliation in untreated plots ranged from 25 to 40%. Farmers in the Tennessee Valley have found as many as 3 loopers per sweep this week and defoliation levels are steadily heading toward the 20% threshold level in many fields.  Farmers in north Alabama west of I-65 are watching the weather hoping that they can find  an opportune time to spray the loopers during  a projected 5 day period of scattered showers. Most of the soybeans in the Tennessee Valley were planted behind wheat and yield potential is good presently. These later planted soybeans are mostly in the R4 to R5 stage of development and need another good rain to produce a strong yield.  One such field that is being monitored in Franklin county was running one looper per sweep on August 25 and had 5% defoliation. This field had 2 loopers per sweep (all sizes) on August 30 and 10% defoliation.  A few loopers had pupated in the field and had attached themselves with silk to the undersides of leaves. No diseased worms were observed while sampling. Stink bugs are also present in these fields but numbers are mostly below the threshold of 2 per 15 sweeps from bloom to mid-pod fill and 3 per 15 sweeps after mid-pod. Three-cornered alfalfa hopper (3-CAH) numbers are usually running from less than one to two per sweep .  Pod worm numbers are very low in most fields. Chemicals currently listed in the Extension Soybean IPM guide for soybean looper control are Belt 4SC, Intrepid 2F, Steward 1.25 SC and Tracer 4 SC. None of these products will control stink bugs or 3CAH’s. Belt, Steward and Tracer are labeled for control of pod worms in soybean. Hopefully, one application will be sufficient this year to manage soybean loopers but growers should continue to monitor fields following looper sprays to insure that populations do not rebound.

By: Tim Reed- Extension Entomologist and Ron Smith- Entomologist and Professor Emeritus

Monday, August 20, 2012

Update for the Week of August 19

Our April-planted cotton is beginning to open, and has varying levels of boll rot due to the weather the past 7-14 days. This same weather pattern of frequent thunderstorms and overcast conditions has been ideal for the spread of leaf spot diseases in out late planted cotton.

Insects have been light-to-nonexistent in recent days. There are a few plant bugs present and stink bug numbers have increased in some fields. I am not sure if either are at damaging levels, especially the plant bugs.
I believe we could safely say that leaf spot diseases are potentially more important than insects for the remainder of the season.
Growers who have peanuts or soybeans should monitor these crops carefully for the remainder of the season. Peanuts are attractive to a number of foliage feeding insects – including loopers, fall armyworms, bollworms, budworms, green cloverworms, velvet bean caterpillars and cutworms. Two peanut fields in Monroe County were identified last week with a high infestation of the garden fleahopper. To my knowledge this is the first time for this insect on peanuts. I am not sure what kind of damage potential they present. However, in cotton this pest can cause extensive foliage damage by leaving all leaves with stippling type feeling.
This same type of damage in peanuts would seem to be just as economic as a foliar disease.
Soybeans would be susceptible to damage from all the leps mentioned under peanuts plus the pod feeders – podworms and stink bugs. Many of our beans are late, planted behind wheat, and were just in full bloom the past 10 days. These beans will be susceptible to insect injury for weeks ahead. Only by scouting will growers know when economic insect losses are occurring and when controls are needed. We already have some fields in Baldwin County with damaging levels of soybean loopers. Foliage loss was as high as 35% last week when I made surveys in that area. Soybeans will be the last crop that stink bugs are attracted to this season. Even though it has been a light stink bug season, if they all accumulate in soybeans late season, controls will likely be needed.
I have heard little from the Kudzu bug on soybeans after finding them in the northeast counties of Cherokee and Cleburne back in July. Follow up surveys are needed in that area whenever time permits.
As the season winds down we will get back with further updates as new information becomes available and the situation changes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Update for the Week of August 12

Last week was rather quiet insect wise on cotton. Many areas received thunderstorms throughout the past 7 days. The comments that I will make today are based on observations made in the field from several different areas of the state last week.

The first point is when to back off of stink bug controls. Our early April cotton is beyond the eighth or ninth week of bloom with few to no 10-12 day old bolls remaining. In fact, my test plots of PHY 375 planted April 9 had several open bolls per plant early last week. Even with cotton that still has a few 10-12 day old bolls remaining, stink bug numbers are so low in most fields that a stink bug threshold could never be reached. I would not be concerned at all with 10-20% internal damage as cotton is maturing out and beginning to open. For those who would be spraying with ground equipment, and that would consist of the majority of growers in Alabama, a ground rig going through mature cotton would destroy far more good bolls than the few smaller bolls near the top of the plant that stink bugs might injure.

Spider mites populations held steady last week but did not seem to increase, likely due to the frequent thunderstorm occurrence. I would just keep an eye on them and delay treatment decision as long as the current weather pattern holds.
One of the heaviest tobacco budworm flights seen in several years has been ongoing in the southern counties. Moths, eggs, and small larvae have occurred in high numbers from Dothan in the southeast to Fairhope in the southwest. This will have no impact on cotton with Bollgard or WideStrike technology. However, conventional varieties are a different story. I was in research plots of conventional cotton with no insect technology at Fairhope, AL on August 7 and found 32% worm square damage with 9% of the squares containing live larvae. Who says the technology has less value than it once did? In the old days, what would we do under this level of pressure, with thunderstorms occurring every afternoon?
Growers that may be impacted by this budworm pressure are soybean and peanut producers. If these crops are infested with budworms then the newer chemistry will be required because pyrethroids would not perform at all.
Chemical choices would be, in alphabetical order: Belt, Steward, or Tracer and possibly Lannate. Some might include Intrepid with this group but I do not know how effective it would be on budworms. Peanut growers should monitor their fields closely for the next 7 to 10 days for budworm numbers. New growers applying a fungicide to soybeans should not automatically add a pyrethroid for insurance purposes. If an insecticide is added in a preventative mode, I would suggest Dimilin at 2 oz. for future foliage feeders.
One other soybean pest that I will mention in closing is soybean loopers. Most soybean fields have a few green cloverworms or an occasional looper. However, one field in Baldwin County was observed last week with about 10 loopers per foot with about 10-15% foliage loss already. Therefore, all fields are not alike and must be scouted to stay on top of the soybean insects.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Corynespora Leaf Spot

In those areas that have gotten good rain or are irrigated, Corynespora leaf spot has become an issue in cotton.  Much of the cotton acreage in Baldwin Co, an area that has gotten good rain, has been treated at least once with either Twinline or Headline fungicides.  While Phytogen varieties, which previously were shown to be susceptible to Corynespora leaf spot, have been damage, this disease is also a threat to defoliate other cotton varieties as well.

While it’s getting late, producers and consultants should be advised to check cotton for symptoms of Corynespora leaf spot as they scout weekly for insect pests.  Labels for both Twinline and Headline specify that the first fungicide application may be made when first symptoms appear in the lower leaf canopy.  Dryland or irrigated cotton with a 2+ bale/A yield potential that’s getting good rain should be targeted for treatment with a fungicide.

In research trials at outlying units, noticeable disease development has been seen in fungicide trials in dryland cotton at the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center and irrigated cotton at the Plant Breeding Unit.  At GCREC, heavier leaf spotting was noted in Phytogen 499 as compared with DPL 1050, which suffered only light disease development.   In the PBU study, noticeable leaf spotting with some (10%) defoliation was noted in Phytogen 499, while some spotting on the lowest leaves was found in DPL 1050.  Hard to tell in both trials whether or not the single application of Headline has had much impact on disease spread.  My intention is to evaluate disease development in cotton variety trials at both of those locations as well as Wiregrass Research and Extension Center sometime in the next week.   In the good looking dryland fungicide and variety trials at the Field Crops unit at EV Smith, disease development is minimal.  So, frequent showers or irrigation appears to be a critical trigger for disease development and spread.  If you want to look at trials at the outlying units, get an outline from the station superintendent.

I have also seen minor leaf spotting caused by Stemphylium and Alternaria fungi in cotton.  Leaf spotting attributed to these fungi are associated with a potash deficiency.   Individual leaf spot lesions are much smaller when compared with Corynespora leaf spot.  On Phytogen 499, the target or zonate pattern leaf spots associated with Cercospora leaf spot have a diameter of up to ¾ inches and are circular compared with the unevenly shaped, and much smaller Stemphylium or Alternaria leaf spots.

If you have any questions with the diagnosis of this disease, send a sample overnight fedex or UPS to the Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, S Donahue Dr., Auburn University, AL 36849.

By: Austin Hagan

Update for the Week of August 5

We are now in the home stretch, as far as insect control, in most fields of April planted cotton. Overall, there are a few things that I would be on the outlook for this week.

Stink bugs pose the greatest threat to most fields for the remainder of the season. Numbers vary greatly from field to field and in many cases from area to area within fields. For this reason, surveys must be thorough enough to detect the overall situation in each field. A dozen or so bolls will not accurately reflect the true infestation in most instances. Remember to select or sample 10-12 day old (quarter diameter) bolls. First separate out those with external damage from those with no external feeding signs. Second, crush those bolls with external damage and observe for internal injury. Our recommended “dynamic threshold” ranges from 30-50% internal damage early in the blooming period down to 10% during weeks 3-6 of bloom. This low threshold corresponds to the period when a high percentage of the total bolls are being set. Later into the blooming season, which is where many of our fields are now, we can relax our treatment threshold back up to the 30-50% range.

Now onto some other pests:

The mid-to-late July bollworm flight was maybe the lowest in modern times. Bollworms have been almost non-detectable in fields in central, SW and SE Alabama, even in cotton with no genetic technology.

As to tobacco budworms – while at the Wiregrass Research Center (SE Alabama) last week, numerous TBW moths were observed. This matches up with reports from SW Georgia that indicates an extremely high budworm flight going on in that nearby location. This will not be anything of concern for   Bt cotton but this could be a very significant event for peanut growers and even soybeans.

No questions were received concerning spider mite control last week. However, I personally observed mites in numerous fields that have not historically had mite infestations. They are present in many fields and their explosion will be greatly influenced by temperature and moisture for the remainder of the season. Growers treating for stink bugs would be wise to select an insecticide that is least likely to help flare mites.

With these thoughts we will end today and get back with another update as conditions change.

Soybean Insect Pest Update

Fall armyworms have been reported infesting pastures across Alabama and last week this pest was found feeding on soybeans in Lawrence County in the Town Creek area. These fall armyworms appeared to have moved from a bermudagrass pasture and crossed a wooded area to reach the soybeans. The caterpillars were feeding on the soybean foliage in the portion of the soybean field adjacent to the woods. Since this report from last week, fall armyworms and yellow striped armyworms have been found in many soybean fields in North Alabama at densities as high as 3 to 4 per 15 sweeps. Since theses armyworms have been found across the R2 to R6 soybeans, it is likely that these worms were derived from eggs deposited in the fields by moths. Only a very limited number of soybean fields have been treated strictly for foliage feeders in Alabama thus far---but numbers of green clover worms are increasing in north Alabama and velvetbean caterpillar numbers are increasing in south Alabama as far north as Monroe county. The economic threshold for foliage feeding caterpillars from pod set to maturity is as follows: Prevent greater than 20-percent leaf  loss. Treat prior to 20-percent leaf loss when five to eight foliage feeding caterpillars (soybean loopers, armyworms, green clover worms, velvetbean caterpillars)  0.25 inch long or longer, are present per foot of row.

Treat when you catch an average of 1.5 foliage feeding worms per sweep. Soybean loopers are harder to dislodge with a sweep net and each looper should be counted twice. Each larva eats a high percentage of the total amount of foliage it consumes during the last 4 to 5 days of the larval cycle. If disease is present in the population growers may wish to delay application  for 2 to 3 days, especially if larvae are less than a half inch long and populations are not much above the minimal threshold. Both fungal and viral disease can wipe out a caterpillar infestation within a week under the right conditions. Podworm and stink bug numbers have been below threshold levels thus far in the vast majority of soybean fields.  However soybeans planted behind wheat could see increasing populations of these two pests as we enter the pod-fill stage.  Three-cornered alfalfa hopper (3CAH) numbers are variable (usually less than 2 per sweep) but numbers in most untreated fields are increasing.  Some growers who applied a fungicide to their soybeans have also included an insecticide to reduce 3CAH numbers.  As soybeans mature we will see more fields with multiple insect pest species present.  At times there will be 2 or more species at densities which are just below treatment threshold levels. It can be difficult to make a treatment decision in this situation.  If you need assistance in making a soybean treatment decision you can call me at 256-627-3450.

By: Tim Reed