Monday, April 15, 2024

Battle Against Insect Pests Begins Again


hank jones
Hank Jones
RHJ Ag Services
Winnsboro, Louisiana

We consultants find ourselves matching wits yearly with creatures that weigh mere milligrams but can potentially inflict millions of dollars of damage to cotton. Thankfully, the past growing season will not be remembered as anything other than typical for me — same cast of characters, same set of problems. Bollworms have climbed the ranks again to attain the title of “main pest of interest.”

With the advent of resistance to multiple Bt proteins, we are returning to the bollworm scouting techniques used more than 25 years ago. Thanks to our university entomologists, we are constantly updated with the best methods to manage this
unfurling saga.

Cotton planting in 2019 is delayed but underway in north Louisiana. I’ve not learned how to predict the future yet, but historically the later we plant cotton, the more insect problems we encounter. Most of the acres I consult this year will be cotton and corn. Consultants well know about the potential onslaught of tarnished plant bugs migrating from corn into cotton.

Strategy To Control Tarnished Plant Bugs

new Transform logo Managing that migration can be intense and requires anticipation and endurance. Remember, plant bugs have no regard for producers or consultants.

I scout cotton with this thought in mind: Plants bugs feel just as entitled to feed on squares and small bolls as a producer does to harvest those bolls. It sets the stage for an epic battle when I consider myself in competition with a tiny insect for a cotton fruiting position.

My focus in managing plant bugs is making sure I’ve scouted fields accurately. I typically use a sweep net to sample at pinhead square. It is crucial to stay ahead of plant bugs during the pre-bloom period. They are stealthy insects, and adults can damage small squares in quick time. A reduction in square retention is often a better reflection of the presence of plant bugs during the two to three weeks of squaring.

Around bloom, I use a black drop cloth to sample. During this time, I typically recommend applying Transform WG insecticide to combat tarnished plant bugs. If pressure is heavy, I make a second application seven days later. This insecticide is reliable and keeps tarnished plant bug populations in check during the early bloom period.

insect recap hank jonesTransform also gives me confidence knowing the best plant bug product is out during the most critical time to make cotton. I am very pleased that Transform was again granted a Section 18 for Louisiana. Without it, I am convinced producers would have spray two to three additional times with harsher chemistries.

I encourage everyone to persevere this year. Many have been dealt a bad hand up front. However, I’d like to think all the face cards are still in the deck still waiting to be drawn. Keep drawing cards and don’t fold just yet!

hank jones and family
From left: Daughter Stella, consultant Hank Jones, daughter Nina, wife Melanie and son Owen.

Hank Jones
RHJ Ag Services
Winnsboro, Louisiana

• B.S., agronomy, Louisiana Tech University; M.S., entomology, Louisiana State University

• Consulted for 18 years on cotton, corn, soybeans and rice

• Graduate of the LSU AgCenter Agricultural Leadership Development Program, Class 11

• Past president and current board member of the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association

• Member of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants and the Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association

• Board member of the LSU AgCenter Agricultural Development Program and chairman of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences Consultants’ Committee

• Married to Melanie. Three children: Stella, 10; Owen, 9; and Nina, 5

• Enjoys reading, deer hunting and playing guitar

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