“But if you plant in April or about the first of May, you need a supplemental foliar spray for thrips control — it improves the yield. The ideal timing is at first true leaf. That gives us more of a yield boost than with second or third true leaf.”

There are a number of products that will control thrips, but nothing works better than acephate or Orthene, he says. “It is equal to or better than all the other products.”

There was a migration in some Alabama cotton fields of tarnished plant bugs in late June, says Smith, and those resulted in a hatch-out of in-field immature plant bugs in early July.

“As we moved into July, we waited out aphids in most cases, and the natural fungus took them out. Later in July, when we’d expect to find a flight of bollworms, they were very low.

“Every year in Alabama, we monitor the cotton bollworm and corn earworm and ship them to laboratories to study for Bt resistance. We went through about 6,000 ears of corn this year to get 1,000 earworm larvae, so that’s how scarce they were.

“We couldn’t even pick them up in conventional cotton at that time. There have been a few in places since then, but with Bt and more crops, we may be suppressing that population.”

The grass strain of fall armyworms have been everywhere in the state this year, says Smith.

“They will not feed on cotton, which explains why we haven’t had to treat for fall armyworms. But they will feed on peanuts and soybeans, so we need to keep an eye on that.”

Meanwhile, hay and pastures have been attacked throughout the state, he says. “I believe if this armyworm situation continues on pastures and hay, they will have to be scouted weekly just as some of our other crops.”

For the third consecutive year, Alabama cotton producers have seen few stink bugs, according to Smith.

“We’re not really sure why, but we have an idea. In the first of those three years, we were coming off a cold winter. The last two years, we’ve had a hot and dry June. June is when stink bugs multiply for the remainder of the summer.

“They’re on corn and wild weeds, and early instar nymphs cannot survive high temperatures and dry conditions.

“In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a gradual buildup of stink bugs in cotton, both the brown and green species. The browns over-wintered very well, and they were plentiful in wheat. They’re out there now in some fields, so we need to be aware of them for the rest of the season.

“I hope we haven’t let down our guard on stink bugs, because they have the ability to come back in future years. Our threshold slides — right now, we’re thinking 30-percent internal damage to the top bolls.

“We’ll have to be concerned about stink bugs as long as we’re trying to make bolls for harvest.”

Generally speaking, Alabama cotton growers are probably “over the hump” this year as far as insects are concerned, says Smith.

“As cotton matures out, stink bugs don’t hang around where there’s not a food source. They will be moving and looking, so we’re set up to have a real flush of stink bugs move into soybeans late-season and move into these soybeans that were planted behind wheat.”

phollis@farmpress.com