Dr. Brooks Blanche, Cotton Development Specialist, Dow AgroSciences St. Joseph, La.
This winter and spring in the Mid-South will be remembered for recordbreaking cold temperatures and ample rainfall. While this has some advantages for reducing insect populations and recharging soil moisture profiles, it is a great disadvantage as the planting season approaches.
Thrips Affect Seedling Vigor, Yield Potential
This year, as in seasons with more typical temperatures, cotton’s smallest pest has the potential to cause the most damage. Thrips can delay plant maturity, reduce stand and cause major yield losses in cotton. These pests overwinter on a variety of weeds and rely on wind to move across fields. Conditions after seedling emergence can have a significant impact on the severity of thrips damage. Cool temperatures, excessive moisture and seedling disease can work along with thrips to reduce seedling vigor and yield potential.
When examining plants for thrips damage, watch for stunted plants. Leaves attacked by thrips may develop a silver sheen and become disfigured. Light thrips damage can delay growth and maturity, but heavy infestations may kill terminal buds and, potentially, entire plants. Cotton is most susceptible to thrips from emergence to the 4th true leaf under normal conditions. At this point, plants become less prone to injury as rapid growth occurs. A premium insecticide, nematicide and fungicide seed treatment along with a foliar-applied insecticide are critical to keeping the seedlings healthy and growing rapidly.
Take Out Plant Bugs
Regardless of how the season progresses, the tarnished plant bug will remain a serious concern for cotton producers. Plant bug infestations can devastate a cotton crop by reducing yield, delaying maturity and increasing height and the likelihood of rank cotton. Transform WG insecticide offers a new class of chemistry and a unique mode of action to help growers protect against resistance while protecting yields. Transform works effectively against sap-feeding insects that have developed resistance to other insecticides.
During the 2013 growing season, consultants took Transform to the field to gauge performance. Each plot was split into 40 acres of a Transform-treated program and 40 acres with the consultants’ commercial standard program. Back-to-back applications of Transform at 1.5 ounces near bloom provided control, resulting in a yield advantage approximately 75 percent of the time when compared with other plant bug programs.
Protecting your crop against early season pests will help you achieve high yields while minimizing agronomic and management challenges associated with these pests.