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

Keeping a Watchful Eye on Plant Bugs

June 22, 2016

Plant bugs are back. Diligent scouting and careful management can help lessen their impact.

Insect Control

Start Putting Plant Bug Plans in Place

June 13, 2016

Early planted Mid-South cotton is beginning to square. Growers need to be on alert for plant bug activity.

Insect Control

AgriLife Extension: Monitor and Treat Early for Cotton Thrips

May 17, 2016

With cotton planting underway across the High Plains, cotton producers should be on the lookout for thrips and be prepared to treat, if needed.

Insect Control

Tennessee Sets Cotton Scout School

May 17, 2016

Tennessee’s annual Cotton Scout School is set for May 27 in Jackson.

Insect Control

States Seeking Transform Exemption for Plant Bugs

May 6, 2016

Three Mid-South states have requested emergency exemptions to use Transform for tarnished plant bug control in cotton.

Young Cotton Plant
Insect Control

New Webcast Addresses Thrips Management Strategies

May 3, 2016

A new webcast focusing on thrips management strategies for the Southeast has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

Insect Control

Providing Sudden Impact in Worm Control

April 8, 2016

Twenty years ago, Bollgard technology came to U.S. cotton fields. Cotton production hasn’t been the same since.

Around The Gin
Product News

Record Yields Set by 2015 FiberMax One Ton Club

May 4, 2016

The 127 members who qualified for the FiberMax One Ton Club pushed cotton yields and quality to higher levels in 2015.

Product News

Meister Media Worldwide Website Relaunches With New Resources

April 22, 2016

Meister Media Worldwide — publisher of Cotton Grower magazine – has relaunched its corporate website, highlighting information and services available from one of agriculture’s leading media companies.

Product News

ReinCloud Promises Remote Control

April 18, 2016

New software set to combine irrigation management and data collection – all in the palm of your hand.

Product News

Search Begins for Deltapine Class of 17

April 14, 2016

Deltapine’s NPE program is nine years old, and the search for the company’s Class of 17 cotton varieties is underway.

Product News

Texas Farmer First to Plant Enlist Cotton Variety

April 11, 2016

Dean Hansen of El Campo, TX, was the first cotton grower in North America to plant the first commercially-available cottonseed with the Enlist cotton trait.

Product News

New Options for Roundup Ready PLUS Program

March 25, 2016

The Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions program for 2016 includes a new tool for weed management and new incentives for farmers looking to fight insect pests in corn.

Product News

Greenleaf Launches easyFlow Closed Transfer System

March 24, 2016

Greenleaf Technologies has launched the company’s new easyFlow closed transfer system for the North American market.

Product News

AgLogic Launches Aldicarb Product in Georgia

March 15, 2016

Growers in Georgia will be able to use a new aldicarb pesticide in 2016 for nematode and early season pest control.

Latest News
Insect Control

Keeping a Watchful Eye on Plant Bugs

June 22, 2016

Plant bugs are back. Diligent scouting and careful management can help lessen their impact.

Insect Control

Growers Urged to Comment on Aldicarb Re-Registration

June 13, 2016

Cotton growers in the Mid-South have until June 22 to comment on re-registration of aldicarb for use in the region in 2017.

Insect Control

Start Putting Plant Bug Plans in Place

June 13, 2016

Early planted Mid-South cotton is beginning to square. Growers need to be on alert for plant bug activity.

Insect Control

EPA Approves Five Section 18s for Transform in Cotton

June 8, 2016

The EPA has granted Section 18 emergency use exemptions in five Mid-South states for use of Transform insecticide for control of plant bugs in cotton.

Insect Control

AgriLife Extension: Monitor and Treat Early for Cotton Thrips

May 17, 2016

With cotton planting underway across the High Plains, cotton producers should be on the lookout for thrips and be prepared to treat, if needed.

Insect Control

Tennessee Sets Cotton Scout School

May 17, 2016

Tennessee’s annual Cotton Scout School is set for May 27 in Jackson.

Insect Control

States Seeking Transform Exemption for Plant Bugs

May 6, 2016

Three Mid-South states have requested emergency exemptions to use Transform for tarnished plant bug control in cotton.

Insect Control

New Webcast Addresses Thrips Management Strategies

May 3, 2016

A new webcast focusing on thrips management strategies for the Southeast has been added to the Focus on Cotton online series from the Plant Management Network and Cotton Incorporated.

Insect Control

Providing Sudden Impact in Worm Control

April 8, 2016

Twenty years ago, Bollgard technology came to U.S. cotton fields. Cotton production hasn’t been the same since.

Insect Control

AgriLife Extension Scout School Set for April 5

March 24, 2016

The Texas Panhandle Scout School, hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, will be held April 5 in Amarillo.

Insect Control

Thrips Continue to Drive Seed Treatment Use

March 2, 2016

With thrips present in nearly 100% of Mississippi and other Mid-South cotton fields, growers can’t afford to cut back on seed treatments to help get their crop off to a solid start.

Insect Control

Options for Tarnished Plant Bug IPM Programs

February 5, 2016

With the availability of Transform in question for 2016, Mississippi State Extension specialists and researchers have developed two IPM programs for management of tarnished plant bugs.

Insect Control

2016 Mississippi Insect Control Guide Now Available

December 17, 2015

The Mississippi 2016 Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops is now available online, with hard copies available in January.

Insect Control

EPA Issues Cancellation Order for Transform

November 16, 2015

EPA has issued a cancellation order for products containing sulfoxaflor – including Transform – in response to a September ruling by the Nine Circuit Court of Appeals that vacated the product registrations.

Insect Control

USDA Exploring New Options for Pink Bollworm Control

October 6, 2015

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is using remotely piloted aircraft to help eliminate small-scale outbreaks of pink bollworm.