I grew up in Manila, Arkansas, surrounded by agriculture in the northeast corner of the state. I started scouting for the University of Arkansas Extension Service when I was 16 and worked for them all the way through college. From the very start, cotton caught my attention. In 2019, we started out behind the eight ball because of wet weather but had good heat units in August and September to finish out the crop. We experienced a lot of pressure from tarnished plant bugs and worms walking through the 2-gene Bt varieties that we hadn’t seen in a long time. Aphids were widespread last year, too.
In the Missouri Bootheel, we struggle with plant bugs and spider mites, and worms also are becoming an issue. Where we have nematodes, I typically apply 17 ounces of Vydate® C-LV insecticide/nematicide at pinhead square. We get two bangs for the buck — help with nematodes and early plant bug control as well as giving a boost to the cotton plants. Up front, we are trying to build beneficial insects and not flare secondary pests. If we start fighting thrips this year, we are going to roll Intrepid Edge® insecticide into the program to help avoid flaring early season spider mites.
Forward-Looking Control Strategies
At the peak squaring stage, I try to get Transform® WG insecticide on as many acres as I can to control plant bugs. I start out with 1½ ounces per acre and then come back with another 1½ ounces if we have heavy pressure, especially around corn. Where we don’t make the sequential application, we run a Transform tank-mix if plant bugs and aphids are present. This strategy gives us longer residual control for heavy plant bug pressure and any aphids that may be present in the field. If we continue to spray, we constantly rotate effective modes of action to prevent resistance.
After experiencing heavy worm pressure last year, many of my growers are trying some of the new triple-stacked cotton varieties with the goal of protecting yield. I think a lot of the worm pressure is coming from cornfields in close proximity to cotton fields.
To cover large acreages, farmers have to make timely sprays. We use FieldX software, so they can sync their tablets to immediately view our scouting report. As we are walking out of the field, they are coming in to spray. Then the next week, we can see exactly what day they sprayed, which helps us determine if a respray is needed. Timing is everything. That’s where my farmers are bumping yields.
As we begin the 2020 season, I tell my growers we are here to give 150% to keep them rolling through another successful year. Stay positive and keep looking forward.