Predictably Predictable

In 2007, information from the Cotton Foundation and Mississippi State University showed that thrips cost growers 145,040 bales. That put thrips squarely in third place as the most damaging cotton insect pest behind the bollworm/budworm complex (229,186 bales) and tarnished plant bugs (171,478 bales).

But what must be considered is that thrips have a much smaller window of damage potential than either of the others, making it potentially the most damaging early season insect. Thrips can damage cotton from emergence to around the 5-leaf stage, and they feed on leaf surfaces, leaf buds and small squares.

“Thrips are an annual pest and we are basically going to have them on every acre,” says Dr. Phillip Roberts, Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Georgia. “Thrips are just so predictable and consistent.”
But because of that, there is very little left unanswered on how to control thrips.

“We haven’t had the severe losses you might imagine from thrips for a couple of reasons,” says Dr. Roger Leonard, a Louisiana State University AgCenter entomologist. “Practically 100% of our acreage receives a seed treatment or Temik at planting. That’s a preventive strategy. In addition, many of our acres are sprayed with a single foliar application that is triggered on the presence of thrips on immature seedlings with fewer than five leaves.”

Roberts says approximately 90% of Georgia’s cotton acreage receives an at-planting treatment for thrips: “We encourage growers to use a preventative treatment at planting like Avicta Complete Pak, Cruiser, Gaucho Grande and Temik. Any of these.

“It’s very important to protect seedlings as they develop,” Roberts continues, “but it’s rare that we would have to treat for thrips after the 5-leaf stage.”

No Automatic Sprays

There are many foliar insecticides with excellent activity on thrips, but growers are cautioned not to automatically apply a thrips material with the first application of glyphosate: (1) They are ineffective and wasteful if thrips are not at economic thresholds, (2) they can flare other pests, and (3) they can be hard on beneficials.

“We discourage people from making an automatic foliar spray because it will disrupt beneficials,” says Roberts. “But the point is, if we have an issue with thrips, we need to address it. Unfortunately we do not have a foliar product that will control thrips without killing beneficial insects.”

Another point to consider is that cotton is often described as being a great compensator. “We do see injury, but fortunately have enough season left in Louisiana to compensate for most of the minor damage,” says Leonard. “When our soils warm up and cotton jumps out of the ground and starts growing, thrips do not affect our crop as much as they would in Arkansas and Tennessee.”

Wheat, Wheat and More Wheat

This season could bring a new challenge in thrips control, particularly in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas where wheat acreage has nearly tripled since 2006. Wheat is an excellent host for thrips, and cotton adjacent to maturing wheat could see higher than normal thrips pressure, especially after on-seed treatments and Temik have played out.

“It’s hard to predict what an insect is going to do, but generally we are going to have high thrips numbers with the amount of wheat acreage we have in the state,” says Mississippi Extension entomologist Dr. Angus Catchot. “There’s not a lot of things we can do preemptively at that point, but you need to be aware of it.”

Depending on the weather conditions and crop progress, tarnished plant bugs and spider mites can also present early season problems.

Plant bugs, which were devastating late-season in parts of the Mid-South in 20007, can be nearly as problematic early season. At high population levels, terminal feeding may result in “crazy cotton,” where the main stem no longer dominates branch growth.

Spider mites are more closely associated with extreme heat and inadequate moisture later in the season, but have been showing up earlier for the past several years. They feed on epidermal cells on the underside of cotton leaves, resulting in moisture loss and drying of the damaged leaves. The damage can also disrupt photosynthesis.

Chart headlines:

Regional Thrips Losses
(in bales)
Beltwide Insect Losses
(in bales)
Source: Cotton Foundation/Mississippi State University

Captions/photos:

Photo 1:
Source: University of California

Photo 2:
Thrips damage.
Source: North Carolina State University

Photo 3:
Source: Penn State University

Photo 4:
“Crazy cotton” is the result of plant bugs damaging the main terminal.
Source: University of Tennessee

Leave a Reply

Insect Control Stories

Insect Control

Genome Mapping Signals Brighter Days for U.S. Cotton

December 6, 2014

At a time when growers rely increasingly more on genetic advancements in yield and fiber quality to keep cotton economically viable, cotton breeders and researchers are excited about the possibilities that genome mapping brings to variety and trait development.

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

Deltapine Announces Class of 15 Cotton Varieties

December 16, 2014

Deltapine has announced two new high-yielding cotton varieties for its Class of 15, with several potential varieties awaiting regulatory approvals of the Bollgard II XtendFlex technologies.

Precision Technology

NORAC Hybrid Mode Receives U.S. and European Patent Approval

December 8, 2014

NORAC Systems International Inc.’s Hybrid Mode in-crop spraying feature has received patent approval in the U.S. and Europe.

Product News

Americot Adds Another High Yielder for 2015

November 24, 2014

Americot rode to success on the performance of two top varieties in 2014. For 2015, the company is adding another workhorse variety to the stable.

Product News

CROPLAN a Brand to Watch for 2015

November 21, 2014

Growers familiar with CROPLAN corn and soybean varieties in the South may want to keep an eye on the company’s cotton program, too.

Product News

Deltapine Focused on Raising the Yield Bar in 2015

November 17, 2014

No brand of cotton seed was planted on more acres in 2014 than Deltapine. So it stands to reason that the company’s variety researchers are preparing to introduce monumental changes to their seed lineup in 2015.

Product News

Growth Continues for Dyna-Gro and All-Tex

November 13, 2014

Crop Production Services has put a two brand approach in place for its Dyna-Gro and All-Tex brands of cotton. And their varieties are getting stronger each year.

Product News

PhytoGen Gaining Foothold in West Texas Market

November 12, 2014

In a year that saw PhytoGen introduce several new varieties to the Cotton Belt, an old standard once again stole the headlines as the company looks to gain more of the Southwest market.

Product News

Monsanto, Sumitomo and Valent Extend Crop Protection Partnership

November 10, 2014

Monsanto, Sumitomo Chemical and Valent U.S.A. have agreed to extend their strategic partnership in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions platform for U.S. cotton and soybeans.

Latest News

Insect Control

Genome Mapping Signals Brighter Days for U.S. Cotton

December 6, 2014

At a time when growers rely increasingly more on genetic advancements in yield and fiber quality to keep cotton economically viable, cotton breeders and researchers are excited about the possibilities that genome mapping brings to variety and trait development.

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.