Our annual North Carolina Consultants Cotton Survey provides a realistic picture of the status of our cotton major insects and how they were managed by a group that accounted for approximately one third of our state’s total cotton acreage in 2012.

All 25 licensed, independent consultants surveyed returned the completed survey forms this past year.

Because their advice is based on both considerable plant and pest-related experience, extensive sampling, insect and damage recognition and use of up-to-date thresholds, their responses tell us not only the status of major and minor pests across various local production areas of the state (producer/client groupings), but also reveal reliable insecticide use patterns and how insecticide use is partitioned across our major late-season stink bug/bollworm complex.

Thrips: In 2012, 92 percent of our consultants’ total client cotton acreage was treated with a follow-up foliar spray for thrips, very much in line with the rest of our state.

Because we presently rely on follow-up foliar sprays for thrips, timing these sprays to the first true leaf stage should be emphasized to producers in general.

Herbicide/insecticide combination sprays that coincide with the third or fourth true leaf stage are too late for effective control of thrips.

On the plus side, evaluations of ultra-high seed treatment rates and an in-furrow, at-planting spray coupled with a seed treatment have looked promising in early testing and may even hold the promise of avoiding those routine follow-up foliar treatment for thrips.

These and other tests will be greatly expanded throughout the Southeast in 2013.      

Cotton aphid resistance: Only 5.3 percent of our consultants’ client acreage was treated for cotton aphids in 2012. However, one consultant in Gates County found a cotton aphid population that was resistant to chloronicotinoids, our mainstay against this pest.

This resistance was subsequently confirmed in the lab at Mississippi State University.

Another consultant found probable nicotinoid-resistant aphids in several cotton fields in far eastern North Carolina in 2011. However, Hurricane Irene wiped out the opportunity of confirming resistance. We hope to have more aphid samples taken in 2013 to help determine the range of this resistance.

The major factor contributing to this increased resistance is our widespread use the nicotinoids in all cottonseed treatments, in many of our plant bug sprays, in pyrethroid-nicotinoid copacs (i.e., Endigo and Leverage 360), and in essentially all of our cotton aphid sprays.