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Pearce Consulting, LLC
When I was a little kid, Desha County, Arkansas, was probably 90% cotton. Everything revolved around it. Three sides of my yard were cotton fields, and the cotton gin was about a half mile from our house. Cotton was what we grew, and when I started scouting, that’s all we scouted. In 2005, I started Pearce Consulting, LLC. Today, I consult on cotton, rice, soybeans, corn, and wheat.
Tips For Cotton Insect Control
Although the 2022 cotton season started out hot and dry, we are 100% irrigated and had on average one of the best cotton crops we’ve ever had. Much of it yielded more than 1,500 pounds per acre. However, after an early sandstorm stunted the crop, we had thrips as bad as I have ever seen. We were only getting about 60% control with organophosphates, and the pressure was so high that a lot of my farmers switched to Intrepid Edge® insecticide for thrips control.
We also are one of the hottest spots in the country for tarnished plant bug numbers. When the cotton is early and short — first square until bloom — we scout using a sweep net to look for adults flying back and forth out of the field. Once the cotton starts blooming and retaining some fruit, we scout using drop cloths. Signs of plant bug damage are loss of square retention and seeing small, yellow-flared squares. Every time I walk in and out of a cotton field, I do 50 square counts beginning with the third node down from the top. As long as I can stay over 80% to 85% square retention, I am fine.
Because the key to achieving plant bug control is to never let them get established, we apply Transform® WG insecticide to achieve early control with a long residual. As soon as I start getting tarnished plant bug nymphs in the field, I normally end up with three shots of Transform and Diamond insect growth regulator on my cotton to break those breeding populations. You can’t fight plant bugs from behind. If you let the numbers get out of hand, you will have plant bugs all year.
Important To Avoid Drought Stress
We have some of the best cotton varieties I have seen during my career. Many of them have high-yield potential. You can’t let these racehorse varieties get hot on the front end. We may get some early rains, but make sure the cotton doesn’t get drought stressed. It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 inches tall or already big and blooming. I like for my farmers to water their cotton every 10 days.