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The cotton season in the Missouri Bootheel and West Tennessee got off to a rough start this year. We started planting at the normal time but got a lot of rain, and soil temperatures were a little cool. Although it has been a fight and we had to replant some acres, persistence paid off and we have a stand.
In general, insect pressure was on the light side last year. We may have made one less application than we normally make. The crop was early, and all the cotton was blooming by July 4. We will be scuffling to find a bloom by July 4 this year. The biggest factor that will affect insect pressure is that we had a mild winter so our winter kill is probably light. With the late cotton, we may have to fight insects a little longer, if I had to make a prediction.
Tarnished Plant Bug Scouting And Treatment
The No. 1 pest we are looking for is the tarnished plant bug. The best way to scout for them is with a sweep net followed by a drop cloth. While using the sweep net the first two weeks of squaring, the threshold is 8 tarnished plant bugs per 100 sweeps. After that while you are still sweeping, the threshold goes up to 15 per 100. Shortly after bloom when we start using the drop cloth, the threshold is 3 on a 5-foot drop.
To control tarnished plant bug, my first insecticide shot is usually a neonicotinoid. My second shot is Transform WG insecticide on all fields at 1.5 ounces per acre. Occasionally, I tankmix acephate or Bidrin with it to add another mode of action. Some farmers come back with a second shot of Transform based on threshold.
The two biggest pluses for this insecticide are its unique chemistry that allows us to give bugs something they don’t ordinarily see and its great residual.
Another plus is by incorporating Transform into your tarnished plant bug control program early, you won’t see any aphids for a long while, and there are always some out there. Transform is a good product to keep them at bay.
Positive Outlook Going Forward
We are glad to have the Section 18 emergency exemption for Transform again this year. I appreciate all of our cotton entomologists going to bat for us on that. If we didn’t have this insecticide to control plant bugs, it would be bad.
Despite the tough conditions we have faced, I am always encouraged by the fortitude of the American farmer and especially our Mid-South farmers. If we can get a stand — and we are just about there — we have a chance. The crop is a little later so we have to work it a little harder, a little differently, but we will be fine.
TennArk Crop Service
- B.S., agriculture, University of Arkansas-Monticello
- Started TennArk Crop Service in Southeast Arkansas in 1984 with partner Billy Beegle. Moved the business to Dyersburg, Tennessee, in 1992
- Consults on cotton, soybeans and corn in West Tennessee and the Missouri Bootheel
- Named 2016 Cotton Consultant of the Year
- Married to Tracie. Two daughters: Paula Stamps (husband David) and Rachel Robitaille (husband Jeremy).
- Five grandchildren — two sets of twins: Marie and Bradley and Olivia and Charles, and Paige
- Enjoys hunting, fishing and spending a lot of time with the grandkids