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Thrips in Cotton

It was a struggle to get corn planted this year what with the persistent cool wet conditions, and Dominic Reisig, associate professor, and extension specialist with NC State Department of Entomology says those producers that did get corn planted on time, had an unusual surprise:

“It seemed like a lot of guys that got in with timely planted corn were lucky because that seemed to yield the best, but we also had a 2 week period that was cold and wet. And it’s possible that seed treatments were not taking up well and even if they were the corn was just sitting there and not outgrowing any injuries. Once we got past that period, there were a lot of stink bugs that seemed to hit seedling corn. That is unusual.”

Reisig says for now corn has outgrown the problem:

“The billbugs are cycling through their lifecycle and the females are laying eggs in the corn and a lot of the corn is outgrowing that. The stinkbugs move around in the system and have moved back to the weeds. There are some back in the corn but now that its larger they are not doing much and the corn is not susceptible to injury until it begins to form ears.”

Taking a look at cotton, thrips has been a real issue this year says Reisig:

“It’s a little tougher to deal with. For the past two years we have been lamenting the loss of temik from the system as it was near guarantee that along with seed treatment was good in a tough situation. Now neonicotinoid resistance and tobacco thrips is what we struggle with. Many in the industry have shifted their seed treatments to more effective chemistries. This year is both normal and not normal. We can never predict when that splice is going to occur. It’s very dependent on environmental conditions, primarily temperature and rainfall. If we were to put an average on it, it seems to be later than normal. A lot of our earlier planted cotton avoided it, and our later planted cotton is getting hit by thrips.”

If a producer is thinking about spraying, Reisig has this advice:

“If they have a seed treatment alone, they almost certainly need to spray. And the earlier they get the spray on the more effective it will be. We are fairly certain that cotton at the 1-2 leaf stage is more susceptible than cotton at the 3-4 leaf stage. What we really want to avoid are the revenge sprays. If you spray at the 3-4 leaf stage, you will kill thrips but it’s really not going to impact yield, unless you have a terrible situation. Cotton is safe by the 5 leaf stage.”

And Reisig has this advice before writing off thrips damage as cosmetic:

“Even injury at this stage is not cosmetic, it will cause yield loss. Cotton has an amazing ability to compensate. Sometimes thrips injury will delay maturity and that can be a good thing, if there is a dry spell in the summer it can help you avoid it robbing yield. We do know that protecting the cotton plant from thips is a good idea and on average will make you some yield.”

NC State Extension Entomologist Dominic Reisig.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.