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.