Plant Bugs Are Enemy No. 1

According to data from Mississippi State University, tarnished plant bugs are not only the No. 1 most damaging pest, they are by a wide margin. The study sponsored by the Cotton Foundation shows that across the Mid-South, plant bugs reduced yields by 115,451 bales in 2007, nearly double that of the next closest pest – the tobacco budworm/cotton bollworm complex.

A Peaceful Coexistence

Preventing corn insects from becoming cotton’s problem.

As corn begins to mature and dry down, insects will be moving to the greener pastures of nearby cotton fields.
Roger Carter with Agricultural Management Services in Clayton, LA, advises his cotton growers to take several steps that will hopefully minimize the impact of plant bugs moving out of maturing corn and into green cotton. His recommendations begin with keeping corn fields as far away from cotton as possible. “If planted side-by-side, leave a strip of non-planted cropland – 32 to 26 rows wide – between the corn and the cotton,” says Carter. “This reduces the ‘breeding ground’ that develops immediately adjacent to corn.”
If corn and cotton are planted side-by-side, he says to begin treating the first 100 rows of cotton immediately adjacent to the corn with a plant bug adulticide plus Diamond insecticide, at 6-9 ounces per acre, as soon as plant bug movement is detected.
“And, if possible, sidedress with 5 pounds per acre of Temik once cotton reaches the sixth to seventh node,” says Carter. “Growers also should maintain a regular spray schedule with a five-day interval until plant bug movement stops and bugs are manageable.”
In Alabama, most growers are aware that corn is a great reservoir for stink bugs, says Dr. Ron Smith, an Auburn University Extension entomologist. “As corn dries down, stink bugs will move in a relatively short time to another source of food. At that time, cotton is at the perfect stage, as we’re just beginning to set bolls. If cotton is nearby, stink bugs will logically move into it,” he says.
It’s well known that stink bugs can damage cotton bolls, and they prefer that bolls be about half grown, says Smith. “But if stink bugs get into cotton earlier, they will feed on younger bolls,” he explains.
Although it didn’t happen in Alabama this past year – possibly due to high temperatures and extreme drought conditions – bollworms can move in great numbers into cotton. “You’re raising, in most years, thousands and thousands of corn earworms per acre in a corn crop, and they’re going to move into cotton in the next generation. …That would be the late July or early August generation in cotton,” says Smith.
This would be a perfect time, he adds, for overspraying pyrethroids. In most areas and in most years, pyrethroids still are the most economical control of corn earworms. They also would provide excellent control of the Southern green stink bug, he says. Later on in the season, Smith advises growers to use a product like Bidrin to control stink bugs. “This past year, we didn’t see that many stink bugs – they crashed in the spring and then did not build up in corn and spill over into cotton. They eventually were in cotton, but it was later in the season,” he says.

Editor’s note: Information for this story was provided by Doreen Muzzi, an agricultural journalist from Shaw, MS, and a regular contributor to Cotton Grower.

In the Delta area of Mississippi, growers spent a staggering $67.50 per acre to combat plant bugs, the study says. Louisiana and Arkansas spent roughly half that. A majority of the blame was placed on plant bugs that migrated in waves out of maturing corn and into still-green cotton. Hypothetically, plant bug control could have approached 100% on Monday, and a grower could be spraying a new infestation only a few days later.

This year, an additional host crop and another pest could double the trouble. According to USDA estimates, winter wheat acreage across the Mid-South has nearly tripled since 2006 to 1.67 million acres this season. Wheat is a very good host for thrips, and when wheat begins to dry down, they could beat tarnished plant bugs to adjacent cotton fields.

“There’s not a lot of things you can do preemptively, but you need to be aware of it,” says Mississippi Extension entomologist Dr. Angus Catchot. “When cotton is in an area where there is a lot of wheat, generally we can expect thrips. It’s hard to predict what any insect is going to do, but generally we are going to have high thrips numbers with the amount of wheat we have in the state in fields that are adjacent or close to cotton.”

Catchot says essentially 100% of Mississippi’s cotton has either an on-seed treatment or Temik on it. “That does work well,” he says. “We had an increase in wheat acres last year and we had significant thrips damage. People wondered at that time if seed treatments were holding up, and they were – it was just extremely high pressure.”

The proof of that, Catchot says, was in test plots scattered through the state. “We did have a little damage on plots with seed treatments,” he explains. “But we had plots next to those that were not treated with anything for thrips and the plants were almost dead.”

Cut Out Cutworms

The higher wheat acreage also is causing producers to modify their preplant burndown herbicide applications on cotton land because of the potential for drift onto neighboring wheat fields. “Cotton growers and pesticide applicators are concerned about the non-target effects of the burndown treatments and have tried to wait for days when wind is not a factor. By trying to be good stewards, they ended up spraying later than normal,” says Dr. Roger Leonard, an LSU AgCenter entomologist. “Producers tried to control heavy vegetation, which is dying slowly, and some will likely be present when planting occurs. If the soils are cool, cotton is going to emerge slowly, and the opportunity for cutworm problems could be quite extreme where there is residue.”

In those cases, Leonard says pyrethroids should be applied as a preventive application. “This treatment can be applied just prior to planting, at-planting, or immediately after planting. It does not matter as long as they put one out,” he adds.

Another consideration is that if a cutworm kills a transgenic cotton plant before the plant-protection trait can be expressed, you’ve lost more than just that plant. “You are not going to recoup that investment if a cutworm takes that plant out – you’ve lost the technology up front,” Leonard explains. “Don’t forget about cutworms.”

Caption for Sidebar:
Cotton next to corn was a common sight in 2007.

Chart:
Mid-South Insect Losses in 2007 (in bales)
Source: Mississippi State University and Cotton Foundation

Leave a Reply

Insect Control Stories

Crop Inputs

Managing Populations, Retaining Squares Are Keys to Plant Bug Control

June 2, 2014

No surprise. Plant bugs have emerged as the most important pest in many Cotton Belt states.

Crop Inputs

FMC to Acquire Cheminova

September 8, 2014

Auriga Industries has agreed to sell its wholly-owned subsidiary Cheminova to FMC Corporation.

Crop Inputs

Managing Bollworms in Dual Gene Bt Cotton

August 15, 2014

Specialists at Mississippi State University have been monitoring recent bollworm activity, which is beginning to threaten cotton containing dual gene Bt traits. They offer guidelines for determining when – or if – additional treatments may be needed.

Crop Inputs

Record Cutout Dates, Save Insect Treatments

August 7, 2014

Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee Extension entomologist, says that growers who record the date of cutout can start counting down the days until treatments for some insect pests can be ended.

Crop Inputs

New Webcasts Focus on Minimizing Sticky Cotton through Aphid and Whitefly Management

July 29, 2014

Two new webcasts focusing on minimizing sticky cotton through aphid and whitefly management have been added to the Focus on Cotton online webcast resource.

Crop Inputs

Crunch Time for Cotton Insect Management

July 28, 2014

According to Tennessee Extension Entomologist Scott Stewart, cotton growers are entering a critical window for managing insect pests in cotton, as immature plant bugs, stink bug and bollworm infestations may all coincide during the mid-flowering period.

Crop Inputs

Options Available for Plant Bug Management

July 10, 2014

With plant bug season in full force in many areas of the Southern Cotton Belt, Extension entomologists in the Mid-South have developed a list of products and treatment options for cotton growers to consider.

Around The Gin

Product News

PhytoGen Partners with Farmers to Aid Local Charities

October 17, 2014

Since becoming a partner in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program three years ago, PhytoGen has made donations to 25 charities on behalf of state farmers of the year.

Product News

Enlist Duo Herbicide Approved; Enlist Weed Control System Now Cleared for Use

October 16, 2014

The Enlist Weed Control System from Dow AgroSciences has been approved for field use in corn and soybeans in 2015 by federal regulatory authorities, with introduction in cotton still scheduled for 2016.

News

Registration for 2015 Beltwide Cotton Conferences Opens as Program Takes Shape

October 3, 2014

Registration now is open for the 2015 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, set for January 5-7 at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, TX.

Product News

October 10 Deadline for Public Comments on Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System Plants

September 25, 2014

The public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for cotton and soybean plants for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System will remain open through October 10.

Cotton Production

New Cotton Webcasts Focus on Using Yield Monitor Data for Precision Planning

September 10, 2014

Two new webcasts to help growers successfully capture and use data from yield monitors have been added to the Focus on Cotton online webcast resource, developed by Cotton Incorporated and the Plant Management Network.

Marketing

First Class Selected for Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame

September 8, 2014

Five honorees have been elected to the first class of Cotton Incorporated’s newly-established Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame.

Crop Inputs

FMC to Acquire Cheminova

September 8, 2014

Auriga Industries has agreed to sell its wholly-owned subsidiary Cheminova to FMC Corporation.

Crop Inputs

Bayer CropScience Opens New Cotton Research Greenhouse in Memphis

September 4, 2014

Bayer CropScience has opened its newest cotton research facility – a $17 million, 76,000-square foot state-of-the-art greenhouse and headhouse addition to its existing site at Agricenter International in Memphis, TN.

Latest News

Crop Inputs

Managing Bollworms in Dual Gene Bt Cotton

August 15, 2014

Specialists at Mississippi State University have been monitoring recent bollworm activity, which is beginning to threaten cotton containing dual gene Bt traits. They offer guidelines for determining when – or if – additional treatments may be needed.

Crop Inputs

Record Cutout Dates, Save Insect Treatments

August 7, 2014

Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee Extension entomologist, says that growers who record the date of cutout can start counting down the days until treatments for some insect pests can be ended.

Crop Inputs

Crunch Time for Cotton Insect Management

July 28, 2014

According to Tennessee Extension Entomologist Scott Stewart, cotton growers are entering a critical window for managing insect pests in cotton, as immature plant bugs, stink bug and bollworm infestations may all coincide during the mid-flowering period.

Crop Inputs

Options Available for Plant Bug Management

July 10, 2014

With plant bug season in full force in many areas of the Southern Cotton Belt, Extension entomologists in the Mid-South have developed a list of products and treatment options for cotton growers to consider.

Crop Inputs

Monitor Square Retention in Young Cotton

June 20, 2014

Now that plant bug season has arrived, Extension specialists suggest taking square retention counts along with sweep net counts prior to bloom to help with treatment decisions.

Crop Inputs

Plant Bugs Off to an Early Start in Tennessee

June 18, 2014

Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee Extension entomologist, says the phone has been ringing about plant bugs – including immatures – in West Tennessee cotton.

Crop Inputs

Managing Late Thrips and Early Plant Bugs

June 17, 2014

Now that Mid-South cotton has basically outgrown the thrips threat and squaring has begun, growers should be watching closely for plant bug activity.

Crop Inputs

Mississippi: Plant Bug Nymphs Reported in Pre-Bloom Cotton

June 16, 2014

Mississippi State Extension entomologists are reporting early plant bug nymph activity on pre-bloom cotton.

Crop Inputs

Patience Is a Virtue in Technology Development

June 3, 2014

Companies often wait more than a decade before seeing their new research ideas in the commercial market.

Crop Inputs

Managing Populations, Retaining Squares Are Keys to Plant Bug Control

June 2, 2014

No surprise. Plant bugs have emerged as the most important pest in many Cotton Belt states.

Crop Inputs

Helena Adds Tempest Dual-Action Insecticide

May 22, 2014

Helena Chemical Company has introduced Tempest Dual-Action insecticide, a new pest management tool for quick knockdown and long residual control of sucking and chewing insects.

Cotton Production

Five Keys to Higher Cotton Yields

April 24, 2014

As growers in the Southern Cotton Belt begin shifting their planting focus to cotton, they should consider five optimum pre- and early season opportunities to manage for top yields.

Cotton Production

New Questions Facing Thrips Management

April 10, 2014

Control options for thrips still work, but potential issues bear watching.

Crop Inputs

Sanders Adds Crafton Commission to North Arkansas Locations

March 28, 2014

Jimmy Sanders Incorporated – a subsidiary of Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC – has acquired Rupert Crafton Commission Company, located in Blytheville, AR.

Crop Inputs

Monsanto and MIT Researchers Collaborate to Develop Ag Biologicals

March 25, 2014

Monsanto and two researchers from MIT have established Preceres LLC to develop highly specific biological controls for insect and weed pests.