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Mid-South Agriculture Consultants
Growing up in Crittendon County, Arkansas, I’ve always been intrigued by cotton. My dad and grandfather both farmed, and my dad also wound up teaching vocational agriculture for 35 years. Every year, he took me to the Cotton Carnival and the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis. It was fascinating to walk down Main Street and Front Street where cotton merchant offices were lined up one right after the other. Today, I even have a full size, 500-pound cotton bale in my office. It gets in your blood.
In 2020, our cotton crop was good, and insects weren’t much of a problem. We didn’t go through spells of seven or eight days of cloudy weather that we do in some years. Tarnished plant bug seems to like cloudy, wet weather.
This season, growers in general have done a good job with burndown and/or tillage, so our ditch banks and turnrows are in good shape. We probably are not harboring or overwintering a lot of insect pests that could cause us problems in cotton going forward. We are starting clean and will stay clean as much as we can.
Proactively Manage Plant Bug
We start checking cotton for plant bug at the first sign of pinhead square — actually a little before to get an idea about early season numbers and pressure. We use thresholds set up by the University of Arkansas and the Mid-South entomology team made up of all the universities from a four-state area.
The first plant bug application generally targets adults. Our initial recommendation will be Vydate® C-LV insecticide/nematicide or Centric. We generally move from there to Transform® WG insecticide at 1.5 to 2 ounces and add Diamond to the mix. The next application, if needed, will be another shot of Transform. Back-to-back applications of Transform seem to work best for plant bug control.
Late season, we apply Bidrin or acephate plus bifenthrin and hopefully get to defoliation without too many applications. This year’s crop is running late, and there is a lot of corn to host plant bug, so we will see.
Keep A Positive Attitude
Farmers and consultants know how to work problems and will find solutions one way or the other. I tell my growers, “We have never missed a cotton crop, and we are not going to start now. It may not come out exactly like we want it to in the end, but we are going to be OK.”