⋅ BY AMANDA HUBER ⋅
Research is all about adding to the knowledge base of a given topic or problem until specific recommendations can be made. Even during that process, before there’s a real take-home message for producers, there are suggestions and advice researchers and Extension can offer. One opportunity to learn more about what researchers are working on is at the annual University of Georgia cotton and peanut research field day in Tifton in early September.
At the field day and standing in front of cotton plants bent over slightly from Hurricane Idalia, UGA Extension cotton specialist Camp Hand talked about the Georgia crop and what farmers should be doing in the field.
“This is a great time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t on your farm to plan for next year,” said Hand. “Look at what’s gone on in the field in terms of what that means for next year.”
Hand said now is a good time to pull nematode samples if that might be the answer to a problem in cotton fields.
“Fertility is also something to think about. This time of year, you can see where you might have an issue with potash and adjust for next year. Those are the things I would be thinking about.”
Finally, Hand said Georgia leads the way in losing more of the crop at harvest than any other state — not something you want to be No. 1 at.
“On average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says we lose 150 pounds per acre more than any other state, and I think it’s because we’re leaving the crop out there a little too long,” Hand said. “Whenever the price is 85, 86, 88 cents per pound, every pound counts and 150 pounds is a lot. We need to defoliate efficiently, stay on target and get the crop out of the field to maximize yields.”
More About ThryvOn Trait
UGA Extension entomologist Phillip Roberts said a high priority coming into 2023 was a better understanding of how the ThryvOn cotton trait would help with tarnished plant bug. After seven years of research, they know how good it is for thrips control.
“ThryvOn provides excellent protection from thrips feeding and injury. In all the years we have looked at this trait, we’ve never had an occasion where we would even consider making a foliar spray for thrips,” he said.
Tarnished plant bug has traditionally been a pest farmers deal with only occasionally, Roberts said. “However, 2023 will go down as likely the worst tarnished plant bug year we have experienced in Georgia. Certain parts of the state had to spray multiple times, and one of the things I think we’ve clearly established this year is that ThryvOn is not perfect. It’s a tool. There still may be a need to treat ThryvOn cotton for plant bugs.”
That said, according to Roberts, the number of times farmers needed to treat tarnished plant bug was reduced by 50% in the ThryvOn cotton, which is good.
In closing, Roberts said, “We know when we plant early, we have a higher risk of thrips. Interestingly, the same risk factor — planting date — also holds for tarnished plant bugs. I think most farmers would agree, the worst plant bugs are on April-planted cotton or that planted the first two weeks of May. As a grower, position the technology to get the greatest value.”
Cotton Leafroll Dwarf Virus
UGA crop virologist Sudeep Bag said work is continuing on cotton leafroll dwarf virus, although the virus has not been as prominent in the field of late.
“We have worked on CLRDV for the past four years and have gained a lot of knowledge in the field. However, for the past two years, we have not seen as much incidence of the virus,” he said.
They are still monitoring CLRDV at the research farm and responding to any calls from farmers or Extension to go take a look. As for research, they have moved into a more controlled environment to learn more.
“We are now in the greenhouse trying to understand why this particular virus is having an impact on some varieties versus not showing any incidence at all on other varieties,” Bag said. “We have a clone of the virus that we use to inoculate plants. Then we can see what symptoms CLRDV is producing. We are learning more about how the host is responding to the presence of the virus, if it is transmitting the virus and how different varieties, mainly just three cultivars at this point, respond to the virus.”
Although it may seem to take years to learn about how to manage some insects or viruses in cotton, the work researchers do each year is astounding and only adds to the mountain of what we already know about this unique crop.