Cotton Links


Consider All Options
Producers Need Effective Strategy Against
Plant Bugs

Few cotton producers would be surprised to hear that plant bugs ranked as the No. 2 most damaging insect pest last year, according to the 2007 “Cotton Insect Losses” report. The pest was second only to the bollworm/budworm complex. The plant bug invasion hit some producers especially hard in 2007; some had to spray 10 or more times.

“There’s one word to describe the plant bug situation last year – unrelenting,” says Dr. Jeff Gore, Mississippi State University research entomologist. “We averaged 12.5 plant bug applications around Stoneville and 7.5 applications across the Delta.”

Despite the high levels of plant bug populations in many parts of the Cotton Belt, Extension entomologists have sound advice for dealing with this pest.

Holistic Approach

Cotton producers have many ways they can minimize plant bug pressure, which are outlined by the First Forty Days workshops. The first thing they can do is reduce broadleaf weeds in and around fields early in the season, says University of Arkansas Extension entomologist Gus Lorenz.

“Broadleaf weeds, such as cutleaf eveningprimrose, henbit and particularly any weeds in bloom are ideal plant bug hosts,” he says. “The list of wild hosts is pretty extensive.”

Corn is another ideal plant bug host, Lorenz says.

“We have the potential to see huge numbers of plant bugs again this year with the corn/cotton interface,” he says. “We tell growers to limit that interface as much as possible by grouping corn in one area and cotton in another.”

Current Research

Gore, Lorenz and other Mid-South researchers are conducting a multi-state Temik insecticide/ nematicide sidedress study this year. Gore says the researchers will sidedress 32 rows of cotton bordering corn when the cotton has reached pinhead square to reduce the impacts of plant bugs along field borders.

Lorenz says Temik sidedress has always been a good option for extended nematode control, but researchers wanted to quantify the benefits for plant bug control as well. He says Temik applications can help maintain square retention and improve plant health.

“I’ve looked at Temik for more than 30 years,” Lorenz says. “It’s obvious that it enhances growth and development of the cotton plant.”

Other In-Season Options

Gore says several additional insecticides are labeled for plant bug control. Producers should rotate chemistries, and consider decreasing spray intervals and increasing rates when populations are high.

“For example, growers using the half-pound rate of Orthene might want to move up to the one-pound rate,” he says. “We’ve also seen that decreasing spray intervals to every four or five days increases plant bug control by 20 to 30 percent.”

Lorenz adds that rotating chemistries is a good way to guard against possible insect resistance.

“We’re pretty limited on chemistries for control, so we want to keep them viable for as long as possible,” he says.

Lorenz says the bottom line is cotton producers should look at multiple ways to avoid a bad plant bug situation.

“We saw some fields with more-or-less uncontrollable numbers last year,” he says. “We don’t want growers to face that situation again this year.”

Rhea & Kaiser, which represents Bayer CropScience, provided information for this article.

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