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Staying On Top Of Pests Is Key

Andy Graves Graves Agronomy Service, Inc. Clarksdale, Miss. B.S. degree in agricultural economics – Mississippi State University, 1994 • Established Graves Agronomy Service, Inc. in 2003 • Certified Crop Advisor • Consults on cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts and grain sorghum • Member of the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association (MACA) • Married to wife, Kristen. Three children: Drew, 13; Claire, 11; and Griffin, 18 months • Enjoys tournament bass fishing

Sponsored by Dow AgroSciences
My family was in the retail fertilizer application business, so I have been around agriculture all of my life. While I was in college, a local consultant in the Clarksdale area hired me and taught me how to scout crops. After graduating from Mississippi State in 1994, my dad was farming, so I started checking the fields on our farm and working for a chemical company at the same time. In 2003, I became a full-time consultant and established Graves Agronomy Service, Inc.

Farmers in our area are already getting their fields ready for next year. About 50 percent of the land that I check is ready to plant right now. We are putting out lime, potash and phosphate, plus some residual herbicides. Varieties have improved, and we are making a lot more cotton than we have ever made, which puts greater stress on soil fertility. That is why we are now going in with higher rates of fall fertilizer to make up for the large amount of nitrogen that we have lost.

Applying residual herbicides in the fall is something new for us, but you have to spend money to make money. Putting out residuals at this time of the year gives us more time and flexibility in the spring, plus we don’t have to worry as much about drift. We’ve learned that it’s easier to kill weeds by not letting them get out of the ground. The fall residual herbicide applications have held up pretty well prior to planting. Then, at that time, we generally put out Gramoxone behind the planter, plus our second residual shot. We deal with several resistant weeds in our area, so there is a big focus on weed control in addition to insect control.

My biggest yield-limiting factor is nematodes. Therefore, I do a lot of soil work in the fall and in-season where we see problems in the field. For root-knot nematodes, our best crop rotation option is peanuts. For reniform nematodes, we try to rotate to corn.

No. 1 Insect Pest: Tarnished Plant Bug

In the insect arena, the main pest in Coahoma and surrounding counties that I check is definitely the tarnished plant bug. Most of the plant bug pressure comes from adjoining crops. We’ve been able to achieve good plant bug control with Transform insecticide and Diamond insect growth regulator. I use both products, but at different times of the year. We try to rotate products to avoid creating resistance. I’ve noticed that Transform breaks up the plant bug cycles and fills in the gaps that we had with some other products. I’ve seen the pressure fall off at the end of the year and have been extremely pleased with it.

This year, our cotton crop, for the most part, was very good. We had a good growing season. Our cotton infrastructure is still intact – several operational gins and a cotton compress – although many of our farmers have become more diversified.

As far as variety selection and crop mix for the 2015 season, we are still in the evaluation stage. After the first of the year, we will begin making those decisions.


Recap: Staying On Top Of Pests Is Key

1. About 50 percent of the land that I check is ready to plant right now. We are putting out lime, potash and phosphate, plus some residual herbicides.

2. We’ve learned that it’s easier to kill weeds by not letting them get out of the ground. The fall residual herbicide applications have held up pretty well prior to planting.

3. My biggest yield-limiting factor is nematodes. For root-knot nematodes, our best crop rotation option is peanuts. For reniform nematodes, we try to rotate to corn.

4. In the insect arena, the main pest in Coahoma and surrounding counties that I check is definitely the tarnished plant bug. Most of the plant bug pressure comes from adjoining crops.

5. We’ve been able to achieve good plant bug control with Transform insecticide and Diamond insect growth regulator. I use both products, but at different times of the year. We try to rotate products to avoid creating resistance.

6. Transform breaks up the plant bug cycles and fills in the gaps that we had with some other products. I have been very pleased with it.