Manage Plant Bugs to Protect Yield

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The 2013 summary of Cotton Insect Losses showed that the highest percentage of losses from insects came from plant bugs – an estimated 188,250 bales lost to cotton’s top pest. Add in the costs for scouting and treatment, and the price tag for plant bug control can get frightening very quickly.

Mid-South states are often considered Ground Zero for plant bug problems, due, in many cases, to the proximity of cotton to corn fields. Yet growers in the Southeast also have to watch fields closely, especially as wild host plants play out in early summer.

Regardless of geography, plant bug control is a management issue.

“It comes down to being good managers,” said Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee Extension entomologist. “Growers need good data. It means having a qualified person looking at cotton and making treatment applications as needed.”

It’s a similar story in the Southeast. In fact, says Auburn Extension Entomologist Ron Smith, a good sweep net may be a grower’s best friend.

“It’s critical to stay at or below threshold levels,” he explained. “Growers and consultants need to focus on pinhead square retention prior to first bloom, then monitor the crop for adult and immatures and treat accordingly.”

To protect pinhead squares, Smith suggests a sweep to see if adult plant bugs are actually present, since other factors can also contribute to square loss. After first bloom, another sweep can help gauge the presence of adults and immatures for threshold treatment decisions.

Stewart and Smith both note that later planted – and later maturing – cotton is often more susceptible to plant bug injury. Both acknowledge that good insecticide products are available, including new modes of action like Diamond and Transform. “We have very good treatment thresholds,” added Stewart. “We just need growers to use them.”

Smith also reminds growers to keep their newer, high-yielding varieties in mind when making decisions about plant bug treatments.

“These newer varieties have much higher yield potential,” he pointed out. “If we have the weather and moisture conditions to produce four bales, then we don’t want to sacrifice a lot to insects.”

Protect Cotton Profits

Left untreated, a wide range of chewing and sucking insect pests put your cotton yield potential at risk. Stay on top of insect pressures with Leverage 360 insecticide and Baythroid XL insecticide from Bayer.

Leverage 360 offers control of sucking and chewing pests, including stink bugs and bollworm.

  • Two modes of action deliver fast knockdown and extend residual control.
  • Leverage 360 with Stress Shield protection enhances the crops’ ability to handle a variety of stresses, helping plants stay vigorous for bigger yields.

Baythroid XL insecticide offers fast, effective and consistent control of primary and secondary worm and sucking pests, including plant bugs.

  • New technology delivers faster knockdown, longer-lasting residual and better value than other pyrethroid insecticides.
  • Short re-entry and preharvest intervals offer end-user flexibility.
  • EC formulation is easy-to-use.

For more information, visit the BayerCropScience website.

Jim Steadman is Field and Online Editor for Cotton Grower magazine. He has spent more than 35 years in agricultural writing and marketing.
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