Friday, September 6, 2013

Outbreak of Sorghum Webworms

Scott Blankenship, Kelly Ag and Chris Parker, Wiregrass Research Center, Headland, AL, report a heavy outbreak of sorghum webworms on grain sorghum in the Wiregrass region of Alabama. As many as 70 to 80 larvae per head have been recorded. Pyrethroid insecticides have given poor control. Other treatment options include: Belt, chlorpyrifos (Lorsban or generics), Lannate, Sevin or Tracer. Growers should note the “days to harvest” restrictions with the various insecticide choices. Webworm picture provided by S. Blankenship.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Final Insect Update of the Season

The Alabama row crop insect control season is rapidly winding down. The few areas that still need attention for a few more weeks are as follows. We need to protect bolls on June planted cotton from stink bug injury until the bolls are approximately 25 days old. We still have plenty of time left in the season to mature small bolls that are present from blooms the last week of August. On soybeans, stink bugs continue to reproduce and feed on pods. Late planted, June to early July, soybeans will be susceptible to stink bug feeding for several more weeks. Stink bug adults will leave other crops when they mature and seek out late planted soybeans as their last host before heading for overwintering sites. I expect to see high numbers of stink bugs in many of these late maturing soybean fields. The good thing is that one application to economic levels of stink bugs in both cotton and soybeans made now should hold populations below damaging levels for the remainder of the season. Stink bug populations currently contain both the brown and southern green species. A high rate of most pyrethroids on soybeans should give adequate suppression. Kudzu bug adults are still present in many soybean fields but they are not as numerous in most fields as they were back a month or so ago. Their numbers seemed to have peaked in April and May planted beans back in the late June to early August window.

Overall 2013 has been a light insect year in Alabama for most species. A summary of what I have observed is the following. For cotton, thrips were moderate to heavy. However, their movement from wild hosts to cotton occurred in May instead of April. Therefore, their damage period coincided with our mid-planting period cotton instead of the earliest planted as happens most seasons. Plant bugs, aphids and spider mites were very light overall. Bollworms and tobacco budworms were low to nonexistent, even in fields of conventional cotton. I have conventional cotton on three research stations spread across the central and southern areas of Alabama. One had to search very hard all season to find a single larva or damaged fruit. Stink bugs were the only cotton insect that occurred at damaging levels in most fields in-season.

In soybeans, Kudzu bugs were extremely heavy in many early planted soybean fields. This was the first year that many soybean growers have had to deal with the Kudzu bug. Others will likely have their first experience in 2014. When all is said and done, I believe we will be able to handle this insect with one, or at most two, well timed sprays. Late maturing beans will likely still see a big buildup of stink bugs in coming weeks as other crops mature and dry down. The foliage feeding complex of green cloverworms, velvetbean caterpillars and soybean loopers have been very light in 2013. This follows the most widespread infestations of the past 40 years last season. Podworms have been very light in soybeans for the past two seasons.

This has been a very unusual year rainfall wise. This may be the only season during my 41 years here as our Extension Entomologist where we had too much rain.

With these comments we will end our in season blogs unless something unusual shows up. I hope my comments have been helpful to those of you that are receiving them. Hopefully we can continue this blog, the Syngenta Insect Hotline, and our tweets during the 2014 season.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early August Insect Update

It has been a number of days since we last reported on Alabama insects. So what has been happening? First of all, August has been dominated early-on with little insect activity other than the bug complex in cotton. Second has been the weather, we had sun yesterday, August 19, for the first time in about 10 days. During this period, rainfall has been measured in inches varying from low single figures to double digits, depending on the location. Up to 4 inches in a 24 hour period has been common. This has resulted in bridges and roadways being washed out and public schools closing during the beginning of the fall term. Agriculturally wise, sprayers have been unable to get into fields and aerial applicators are over booked. Fortunately, insects have overall been low with just a few exceptions. The bug complex has been over threshold in many but not all cotton fields. In the past few days the caterpillar complex has built to damaging levels in soybeans. Some fields have been sprayed by plane for the lep complex, primarily loopers and velvetbean caterpillars. The heaviest infested fields are those where growers just preventatively added a pyrethroid when they were applying a fungicide.

It has been my experience in research plots that an application of a pyrethroid just prior to an infestation of foliage feeding caterpillars is like throwing gasoline on a fire. We usually see much higher numbers of soybean loopers where a pyrethroid application has been made within the previous 10-14 days. My advice to growers is that if they feel they must add something to their fungicide, just add 2 or 3 ounces of a product like Dimilin which does not disrupt the beneficial insects.

Once we have a damaging level of foliage feeders the first thing we need to do is to quantify the species present and the numbers. Five to seven caterpillars per foot of row will usually result in 30% or more foliage loss and therefore require controls. Treatment thresholds for sweep nets on drill beans are not quite as well defined. However, 2 to 5 per sweep would likely require controls. As to species, velvetbean, green cloverworms, corn earworms (podworms) and stink bugs can all be controlled with a pyrethroid. However, if many soybean loopers are in the mix, then one of the newer lep materials will be required. These are, in chemical alphabetical order: Belt, at 2-3 oz.; Steward at 7 oz.; Intrepid at 4-6 oz.; Prevathon at 18-20 oz.; tracer or Blackhawk at 1.5-2 oz. per acre.

One additional thing should be added about soybean looper control, especially if application is by air. Looper eggs are deposited on the lower leaves of the plant, therefore they infest the plant deep within the canopy. As the larvae mature they feed upward through the canopy. In order for any of the newer chemistry to be effective, the leaf containing the droplet has to be eaten. Therefore, it may take several days to fully suppress a looper population. It has been my experience that the surviving  larvae behind application will be early instar larvae found lower in the canopy. Most of these looper insecticides are very rainfast and have long residual on the leaves, so don’t panic if you see a few small loopers behind an application.

I will be on research farms for the next several days and will get back soon if we see or hear of damaging levels of insects developing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stink Bugs Showing Up in Fields

Based on calls from consultants during the past seven days, most insect attention on cotton in Alabama has now shifted to the stink bug complex. This appears to be the appropriate thing to do since no other widespread destructive insect is being reported and a high number of stink bugs are being reported from all the major row crops. This began with wheat during the spring months. Stink bug numbers later shifted to corn. High numbers have been reported in recent weeks in peanuts, with increasing numbers being reported in both cotton and soybeans.

If we back up and review the situation since the end of the 2012 season, this is as expected. Stink bugs built high numbers on soybeans late last season resulting in a high level entering overwintering sites. This past winter was mild and we did not have the excessive high temperatures or extended drought this spring to limit a 2013 population build up.

This complex included both the brown and the southern green species. In the more southern counties within Alabama, the leaf footed bug is also in the mix. Leaf footed bug damage is identical to stink bug damage to cotton bolls. The important thing here is that, control wise, they are more like the brown stink bug. Phosphide insecticides do a much better job in controlling brown stink bugs and leaf footed bugs than do pyrethroids. Growers will need to keep this in mind as they select their chemical for treatment decisions. In Alabama, escape bollworms on Bollgard and Widestrike cotton varieties have not presented a big enough problem to select a pyrethroid over a phosphate for stink bug control. Field monitoring between July 20 and August 10 will determine if that trend holds true for the 2013 season.

In a few weeks, as we begin to make more stink bug control decisions in soybeans, we will have to work more with the pyrethroid chemistry to suppress the brown stink bugs in the complex. Research trials across the south point to bifenthrin as their superior pyrethroid for brown stink bugs in soybeans. We can improve the percent control by using the higher labeled rates.

Back to cotton, here is how we suggest making treatment decisions. First, select a minimum of 25 ten to twelve day old bolls that are still soft to the touch and can be crushed by hand. Select more bolls from at least two locations from larger fields. Crush these bolls and observe for internal injury. Note, it may make this process faster by first separating the bolls with external feeding signs from those that have none. First, crush the bolls with external feeding only and determine the percent that have internal injury. If a threshold is reached, then the remainder of the bolls with no external feeding signs will not need to be crushed. Internal damage may consist of one or more warts on the inside of the boll wall, damaged seed or stained lint. Second, the decision maker needs to know how long that particular field has been in the blooming stage. Most stink bug injury and loss is coming during weeks three though five or six of bloom. This is the period when most harvestable bolls are being set.

In Alabama, I suggest using a 10% internal damage threshold during weeks three though six of bloom. An insecticide application will usually suppress stink bug numbers for seven to ten days unless a field borders another untreated crop with high numbers of stink bugs. If has been my experience that stink bugs do not move rapidly across fields like plant bugs as they reinfest. The first four to ten rows adjacent to corn or peanuts seem to get most of the migration initially.

In our heaviest stink bugs years, cotton in the coastal plains of the southeast have required up to four applications. Under most conditions however, only two or three sprays may be warranted.

One last thing I will mention today is that, in the past, stink bugs seem to cause more internal boll damage in wet seasons than in dry seasons. That being the case, and unless the weather changes, we need to be extra cautious of stink bug damage to cotton in 2013.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Update for the First Week of July

The Alabama cotton crop is growing rapidly resulting from abundant rainfall from multiple thunderstorms that have occurred during the last 10-14 days.

Insect wise things have been rather quiet on cotton but not the case with soybeans which I will discuss later.

Tarnished plant bug numbers have not increased as rapidly as expected in fields that I have observed. An occasional adult and or nymph can be found, depending on the age of the cotton. Migrating adults went to the earlier planted cotton first and have had time to now produce offspring. Cotton planted on April 10 is now blooming in Autauga County, Alabama.

To my surprise, I’m finding as many adult southern green stink bugs as I am adult plant bugs. We need to begin watching stink bugs in early bloom cotton. As I have stated before, these stink bugs will feed on thumb size bolls as soon as the dried bloom sheds. A huge stink bug population is waiting in corn. These adults will migrate to cotton, soybeans and peanuts as corn begins to dry down. This may be the largest population in corn that I have ever observed. There seems to be mating pairs in every corn plant at our research farms in Shorter and Prattville, Alabama this week. Most are the southern green species with an occasional brown in the mix. That will be to our advantage in a few weeks since the pyrethroid chemistry does a nice job controlling the green species.

The other insect that is building on cotton is aphids. They are clumped in terminals on occasional plants in numerous fields at present. These clumps will spread field wide before natural diseases wipe out the population. I would project that aphid population decline will not occur until around July 20.

The most intense insect pressure at present is Kudzu bug populations on soybeans in select fields throughout the state. Ten to 50 adults and over 200 immatures per plant can be found in many April planted beans. More adult Kudzu bugs are moving into beans from Kudzu daily. Beans will have to be scouted weekly for the remainder of this and future seasons. One to three sprays may be needed to protect beans this season. This will open the door to pod and foliage feeding caterpillars for the remainder of the season.

Information on the management and control of the Kudzu bug in soybeans has been posted in blog entries previous to this one and also on the Alabama Crops website (

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kudzu Bug Q&A

by Xing Ping Hu, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

What is a Kudzu bug?
The Kudzu bug is a small yellowish green lady-beetle-like insect. However, they are not a beetle, but a true stink bug with sucking mouths that sip the juice from plants.

They like to aggregate in clusters and release a very strong, foul odor that you can smell several feet away.

Kudzu bugs are also called lablab bugs, bean bugs, globular stink bugs, and bean plataspids.

Are they a new pest and where did they come from?
Yes, the Kudzu bug is a new pest for us in the United States. Many new people are being introduced to it every day. We will all have to learn the best ways to deal with it.

The Kudzu bug is native to Asia. Genetic markers indicate this bug was likely introduced from Japan.

When did they get here and how widely spread are they now?
It was first reported in Georgia in 2009 and spread to Alabama in October 2010. Since then, it has been spreading like wildfire. By the end of June, it has been confirmed in more than 430 counties across 9 Southern Region States. They are in all but 53 counties in Alabama right now.

How do they spread so rapidly?
Many factors aid in their fast dispersal:
  • Hitchhiking on vehicles, airplanes, shipments of products and equipment, and even humans
  • They are strong flyers themselves, capable of flying at least a couple of miles
  • They are attracted to white and lightly-colored surfaces
  • Propensity to migrate
  • Diverse and flexible life history and rapid population growth rate
  • Availability of primary hosts – kudzu plants and soybean crops
  • Most interestingly, the new finding in my lab shows a majority of the adult females become fertilized before overwintering. A single pregnant female can lay egg masses in a new location without the presence of male.
What plants do they infest?
Kudzu bugs are leguminous plant feeders. Their primary host is kudzu plants; that is how they got their name. Of the other leguminous crops, they prefer soybeans to vegetable beans and wisteria vine.

However, they must feed on kudzu or soybeans to be able to reproduce. It is common to see them aggregate and feed on non-legume plants in early spring and late fall when leguminous plants are not available.

If they have been in AL since 2010, why the sudden population outbreak in soybean crops this year?
During the first year of invasion, the population was basically limited to kudzu patches. However, because of the exponential growth, overcrowding populations started to move into soybean fields in 2012 and reached peak outbreak this year.

What is the pest status of kudzu bugs?
They were first considered a nuisance pest in residential areas, but are posing much greater threat than previously thought. In Asian countries, it is a serious pest of soybean and vegetable beans. Here in the United States, besides yield loss of soybeans, it poses threats to international trade of agricultural products to Central America, and is an urban nuisance.

What damages do they cause in soybean crops?
They are slow feeders, sucking plant juice and gradually drawing down a plant’s vigor. They do not eat holes in leaves and do not take bites from pods or seed.

When do kudzu bugs move onto soybean plants and how long they stay in soybean field?

It depends on whether you have early, middle, or later soybean crops and the climate. In 2013, we observed adults of an overwinter generation move to lay egg masses on early-planted soybean crops when they are about 1 ft tall. Nymphs appeared in late May and by the middle of June, nymph population had peaked across the entire soybean field. This was also the optimal time for control treatment.

You will see Kudzu bugs in the field until the soybean plants become unsuitable (not enough juice). Last year’s research showed that Kudzu bug population was greater in early-planted soybeans rather than later-planted soybeans. We are monitoring Kudzu bug population dynamics this year.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kudzu Bug Management and Control in Alabama Soybeans

Ron Smith, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

The Kudzu bug has become a major economic pest of Alabama soybeans in certain fields throughout the state in recent weeks. Populations as high as 50 or more adult bugs per plant were observed in early June. Some of these fields now have 200 or more immature bugs per plant (late June). Calls are being received from growers and field men in recent days from all over the state.

Kudzu bugs are most highly attracted to early planted (April and early May) soybeans. Beans planted later, for example following wheat harvest, are much less attractive.

The primary question asked are when should soybeans be treated and what insecticide should be applied. The second part of the question is the easiest to answer. Most pyrethroid insecticides do a good job of controlling Kudzu bugs. Working thresholds have been previously established by entomologists in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. For pre-flower vegetative beans a treatment threshold of five adults per plant is suggested. After flower, a threshold of one immature per sweep, with a sweep net, is recommended. As an alternative to sweep-net sampling, visual inspections of insect density lower in the canopy will suffice.  If immature kudzu bugs are easily and repeatedly found on the leaf petioles and/or main stems, treatment is likely warranted. However, these threshold guides may be modified slightly based on the number of egg masses that are continuing to hatch.

Kudzu bugs have two generations per season on soybeans. Adults move from Kudzu to early planted soybeans in the spring, deposit egg masses and eventually die. The immatures then hatch and eventually become adults after about six weeks and begin to deposit eggs for the next generation.

A limited number of Kudzu bugs may appear in beans season long. The most efficient and economic use of insecticides occurs when an application is made when the majority of the population in each generation is in the immature stage. Some fields have already exceeded treatment threshold and will likely require two or more sprays during the 2013 season. Fields with lower populations may be able to wait until mid-July or later for a treatment. Only one application may be needed in these fields during the 2013 season. 

Applications made when a high number of unhatched egg masses are present may have to be repeated within one to two weeks. Our goal should be to strategically time these insecticide applications for maximum effectiveness. Treating soybeans repeatedly at close intervals has not resulted in yield increases over fewer well timed applications. The key point is for growers and field men to focus on the peaks of immature Kudzu bugs as we move through the 2013 season.

There will be no way to economically prevent yield losses to Kudzu bugs and minimize inputs without monitoring or scouting soybeans weekly just as we have done in other row crops for decades. Kudzu bugs are not the end of the world for soybean production in Alabama but they do create a new day. Pictures of adult and immatures are available on Ron Smith’s blog Basic Kudzu bug information can be found at Updates on the Kudzu bug status will be posted on the website. The Extension Soybean IPM guide has recommendations for Kudzu bugs on page six Also, there is a podcast now available here


Egg Mass

New Release Information on Kudzu Bug by Tim Reed

The kudzu bug has been “officially” reported to occur in 53 of Alabama’s 67 counties as of June 27. Last year in the first week of June this invasive species had been reported in 15 counties. It is quite likely that this insect is now present in all Alabama counties. Several counties have reported significant populations of kudzu bugs infesting soybeans during June in Alabama in 2013 and numerous fields have been sprayed. 

The time required for the kudzu bug to develop from an egg to the adult stage is 6 to 8 weeks. The egg hatches in about 5 days. The kudzu bug has been found on many plants but presently the only host plants on which it is known to reproduce are kudzu, soybean and wisteria.

Thresholds for kudzu bugs infesting soybeans continue to evolve as more information is gained from research efforts. Southeastern entomologists are currently recommending that growers consider using the following thresholds when making kudzu bug treatment decisions: 5 bugs per seedling, until plants are one foot tall. Then, the threshold will change to 10 bugs per plant for plants from 1-2 feet tall. The established threshold of one nymph per sweep  should be used for plants above 2 feet tall. Plants should be sampled at least 50 feet from the edge of the field.
The reason for this is that the adults have an extended migration period (6-8 weeks) and colonize field edges first. If you sample the edges, chances are you will make a spray decision too soon before the migration is over.

Multiple classes of insecticides have shown activity on kudzu bugs. Insecticide treatments containing bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, zetacypermethrin, carbaryl, or acephate provided greater than 80 percent control 2-5 days after treatment in insecticide efficacy trials conducted in Georgia and South Carolina. Insecticides do not prevent eggs from hatching. Growers actively treating kudzu bugs with broad spectrum insecticides should consider using a preventive application of Dimilin (2 oz/acre rate) at the R2/R3 growth stage for control of velvetbean caterpillars and green cloverworms in July, especially in central and south Alabama which historically have had higher populations of velvetbean caterpillars than north Alabama.


Studies in Georgia and South Carolina have shown that kudzu bug populations are higher on earlier planted soybeans than on later-planted beans.

Tim Reed, Extension Entomologist, Auburn University

Monday, June 24, 2013

Insect and Crop Update for the Week of June 23

After going weeks with light to moderate thrips pressure, damage was heavy on 4-7 leaf cotton in early June, especially in SW Alabama.

Cotton was growing rapidly but thrips damage on true leaves was showing heavy damage from about the 4th to 7th true leaf. (Peanuts also were taking heavy damage during this same period.)

The thrips window is over now and we need to shift our focus to spider mites, aphids and the plant bug complex which includes tarnished plant bugs, fleahoppers and an occasional clouded plant bug.

Mites are primarily found in the TN Valley region of North Alabama and some treatments were being applied last week.

I noticed the first aphids on April planted cotton in central Alabama last Friday (June 21).

Plant bug numbers (adults) were down last week but nymphs are beginning to appear in our earliest planted cotton (mid-April). I would suggest using a sweep net to sample adults for the next 2-3 weeks, depending on the age of the cotton. As we approach first bloom I would switch to a drop cloth and concentrate on the presence of immature plant bugs.

Also, field men should now be looking at pinhead square set. Fields surveyed on June 21 were setting about 90% of the fruit. However, some plants had up to 30% square loss at that point. I believe you will find that migrating adult tarnished plant bugs will seek out the earliest planted and most lush cotton fields. My thought is that this cotton provides the best shade from the 95 degree temperatures, and is the best host for plant bugs.

While looking for pinhead square set I noticed a number of white eggs, likely tobacco budworms. They would not be a concern now, but in the old days it would have created a real predicament. Spraying for plant bugs during a budworm moth flight would have been expensive and also put the grower on a treatment treadmill for the remainder of the season. Sometimes we forget how well we have it compared to the pre-Bollgard years.

On another insect – a few stink bugs are already present in cotton. Normally we do not worry about stink bugs until about the third week of bloom, when we have bolls that are 10-12 days old. However, when stink bugs are present at bloom they will attack thumb sized bolls as soon as the bloom tag sheds. Any feeding to bolls this size will cause the boll to abort. Therefore, fieldmen need to be alert for adult stink bugs in early bloom cotton as they monitor for plant bugs with a sweepnet. Stink bugs will not damage squares or blooms but will seek out these first small bolls.

Since some of our corn was planted later than desired, stink bugs will likely remain with that host until the post roasting ear stage when the kernels become hard. At that time we may have a large movement into other crops such as cotton, soybeans and peanuts.

One word about Kudzu bugs on soybeans. Numbers of adults are out of site on many of our April planted beans. In fact, adult numbers are beginning to decrease in some fields now but numerous immatures are present, which is the trigger we use to treat the field. Fieldmen who have not experienced this insect may overlook these immatures when they are small. They will be a clear to greenish color and very small after hatching.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kudzu Bugs Infesting Soybeans

Kudzu bugs (adults and immatures) infesting April planted soybeans on Auburn University research farm, Auburn, AL.




Monday, June 10, 2013

Insect Update on Cotton and Soybeans

As of 8:45 am Monday, June 10, all is quiet on the insect front. Rainfall during the past week has given cotton a growth spurt. Youngest cotton is 3 to 5 true leaves and overall has little thrips injury. Older cotton is at the 5 to 9 true leaf stage. Many fields are between the thrips injury stage and the stage where we begin to focus on plant bugs. This window is about 7 to 10 days long. Mid April planted cotton already has 2-3 pinhead or larger squares and should be scouted for adult plant bugs. No aphids or spider mites have been reported.

We will be conducting scouting schools in Autaugaville (central AL) and Headland (Wiregrass area of SE AL) this week. In addition to cotton and soybean insects (Kudzu bugs) we will also have presentations on cotton disease and resistant weed management.

Kudzu bug adults are attacking early planted soybeans in the Prattville, Tallassee and Auburn areas. At present our treatment threshold is 5 adults per plant.

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 2013 Scouting Schools

2013 Alabama Scouting Shortcourses Announced
The following cotton scouting shortcourses will be conducted by Auburn Extension staff:
June 11: Autaugaville, Alabama, County Ag Center, Highway 14, for central and west Alabama
June 12: Headland, Alabama, Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, for southeast Alabama
June 18: Belle Mina, Alabama, Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, for northern Alabama
Cotton and soybean insects (description, recognition, life history and damage), seasonal occurrence, management recommendations and threshold levels will be discussed. Identification and scouting for cotton diseases will also be covered.
At the Headland and Belle Mina locations a special section will also focus on managing glyphosphate resistant weeds.
Commercial pesticide applicator recertification points will be awarded. Each program begins at 8:30 AM and will conclude after lunch with in-field visits.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Plant Bug Surveys in Wild Hosts

Historically, years of abundant spring rainfall resulting in delayed cotton planting have been some of our highest plant bug damage years.

Plant bug damage can be more pronounced when the migration of adults from wild host plants occurs prior to or about the time cotton is setting the first pinhead squares (6th to 8th true leaf). One reason for this is that when adult plant bugs feed on pre square cotton they feed in the terminal or growing tip. This feeding can disrupt the physiology of the plant causing abnormal growth (crazy cotton). This abnormal growth can delay fruiting for several weeks.
On May 20, I surveyed one of the primary spring host plants (daisy fleabane) for tarnished plant bugs in Alabama. On that date in Henry County (southeast Alabama) I found that about one-half of the plant bug population was dark (older) adults about ready to migrate to a new host. In past years, cotton is about the only host that is attractive at this time of the spring. Most wild spring hosts are now drying down. The remaining one-half of the population on May 20 were immatures of all stages. This means that the migration to cotton could be extended for a several week period which is common in wet springs.
On May 30, I made a second survey in the same area and found fewer immatures but more light colored younger adults. This may indicate that the older adults have moved to a new host already and some of the immatures are now young adults. I made a second survey on daisy fleabane on May 30 about 80-90 miles farther north than the first one. In this survey I found that they majority of the population was still immature. The fleabane was still greener and fresher at this location which means the plant bug population was in perfect sync with the host plants.
Only time will tell what this means in 2013. However, scouts, consultants and field men should be alert for the presence of adult plant bugs in cotton, and specifically late planted cotton, in the next 10-30 days.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Updates for Week of May 26th

Kudzu Bug adults depositing eggs in April planted soybeans in Barbour Co. (Eufala) on 5/28/13. Will wait for hatch to assess treatment needs.

Low level of cotton fleahoppers infesting 6-7 true leaf cotton at Prattville, AL.

Some controls still going out for adult grasshoppers in Central, AL. Stand loss detected from GH feeding on stems at or above soil line.

Mid May or later planted cotton with seed treatments should not need foliar thrips spray due to rapid growth of the plants.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cotton Growing and Thrip and Grasshopper Treatments

Some of the April planted cotton is finally beginning to grow since the nights have become warmer. April 17 planted cotton at Prattville, AL now has 4-6 true leaves and is about 5 inches high. Thrips pressure is still heavy enough to cause a moderate level of visible injury to true leaves when no foliar insecticide was applied. Most cotton planted in April 2013 definitely needed a foliar spray at the 1-2 true leaf stage. Plants that emerged after May 15 likely will not need this foliar application.

I have had several calls this week about making a combination spray to target thrips and grasshoppers as an over the top herbicide is applied. My comment was positive to do this but realizing that some of the grasshopper population is now adults and will be difficult to control without going to the highest labeled rates of whatever insecticides are applied. I suggest staying with a lower rate and just targeting the thrips and immature grasshoppers.
I will come back in a few days to look ahead at out next potential cotton insect – tarnished plant bug. It has been my experience that wet springs, with delayed planting, have the potential to be bad plant bug years.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thrips and Cotton Update

A lot of cotton has been planted this week (May 13-17). This is the first time many areas have been dry enough since early April. However, believe it or not, much of central Alabama missed rains in the last weather front and it is already too dry for seed to germinate.

Cotton that has emerged has not made much growth to this point. Cloudy weather, cool nights and a moderate number of thrips has severely hampered seedling growth. Based on my observations from monitoring four thrips research trials, I would suggest that the cooler than normal temperatures, especially at night, has done more to prevent seedling plant growth than has thrips injury.
Thrips numbers have not been abnormally high. In fact, it does not appear that the mass movement of thrips from grains and other wild host plants have occurred yet. Thrips damage is moderate to heavy primarily due to the fact that plants are not growing due to cool nights.
Cotton planted this week (May 13-17) should have better growing conditions and grow off rapidly. If that is the case, thrips injury will be minimal in spite of thrips numbers.
I would suggest that cotton emerging after May 20 will not need a foliar spray to supplement seed treatments. My thrips trials planted on April 10 did not emerge and put on a true leaf until more than 21 days after planting. In this situation, much of the thrips control provided by the seed treatments had dropped considerably before a true leaf even emerged.

The bottom line is that growing conditions, moisture and temperature are more important than thrips numbers or the type of thrips control a grower chooses.

No seed treatment and no foliar spray. Plant date 4/10/13.

Seed treatment and foliar spray. Plant date 4/10/13.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Early Armyworm and Thrip Control

Armyworms, either true or fall, in whorl of knee high corn in Mobile County. Pyrethroid is suggested for control.

Cotton planted April 10-12 at Prattville, Alabama is putting on first true leaf bud this week. Remember thrips control with seed treatments drop sharply at 21 days after planting (which with the cool nights in 2013) is about the time that thrips control is really needed.
The best timing for foliar thrips control is when plants are putting on the first true leaf bud. Acephate (Orthene or generic) is one of the most effective treatments.
Our objective should be to push the plant to about the 5th true leaf stage as fast as possible. We want the largest and healthiest plant possible when we reach the 5th true leaf. For that reason, the timing of a foliar spray is more effective at the 1st true leaf than a spray at the 3rd, 4th or 5th true leaf.
Just remember that what we see as far as thrips injury above ground is also happening below ground with the root system. We don’t want these plants, with 1000-1500 lb. yield potential, to start off with a stunted root system.

Follow me on Twitter for updates throughout the season @Ron_Smith23

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grasshopper Control with Winter Weed Burn Down

Several calls have been received from consultants, advisors and Extension agents this week concerning grasshopper control. Reports indicate that numerous early instar grasshoppers and nymphs are present in reduced tillage fields that are receiving burn down herbicides. There are also reports of large adult grasshoppers present in wheat in the southern area of the state.

Based on experiences during the past 10 or so years, it is suggested that where grasshoppers have been a concern in reduced tillage fields of seedling cotton, the best time to control is when applying winter weed burn down.
 Grasshoppers are a “risk” insect when cotton is in the seedling stage. With today’s seed and technology costs at planting, we must manage this risk just as we manage our in-season insects. I do not know of any established thresholds. This problem is much greater in reduced tillage in the central and southern areas of Alabama. The immature stage of grass hoppers are much easier to control in March and April than the adults will be in May. Most all labeled cotton insecticides, at the lower labeled rates, give good control of immature grasshoppers. Control can be achieved for as little as 50 cents to $1.00 per acre with some chemistries by mixing with the burn down herbicides. If that window is missed, broadcast applications behind the planter would not be too late if planting in April.
The addition of Dimilin, at 2 oz. per acre, would give residual control when applications are made in March or early April. Dimilin would provide control of later emerging grasshoppers or those that might migrate from field borders.
No highly effective controls have been found for adult grasshoppers that may be present in May. Cotton is susceptible to grasshopper chewing on the stalk, just above the soil line, until plants reach the fifth to seventh true leaf stage.

More comments about early season thrips control will follow in a week or so.

Follow me on Twitter for updates throughout the season @Ron_Smith23