Stink bug damage a concern: As is often the case in wetter years, stink bug levels and damage in 2013 were quite a bit higher that in the previous 6 years, receiving this year’s No. 1 pest ranking by our consultants.

 

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Based on our project’s fall boll damage survey of 211 grower-managed cotton fields, stink bug damage to bolls averaged 6.5 percent, compared with an average of 3.4 percent over the previous 6 years. Fortunately, because stink bug damage often spares some boll locks, stink bug damage to bolls is typically scored approximately 40 percent of that of a bollworm-damaged boll in the yield loss category.

Plant bugs on the rise?: The consultants’ survey unveiled some interesting insights about plant bug damage, showing both a significant possible trend towards higher treatment levels in recent years and confirming sharp regional differences in population levels as indicated by treated acreage.

In the 2005-2007 period, consultants’ clients sprayed 5.3 and 6.8 percent of their cotton acreage for plant bugs pre- and post-bloom, respectively.

In the 2011-2013 period, this figure was 19.8 and 45.2 percent, respectively, for the pre- and post-bloom period.

Plant bug levels have certainly appeared to have trended upward in recent years, with 6 of our 24 consultants (primarily in our far eastern counties), having 100 percent of their clients’ acreage treated for plant bugs in 2013 — with some fields requiring 2-4 applications.

On the other hand, 6 other consultants representing our north-central and southern acreage, recommended treatment on an average of 2.8 percent of their clients’ acres this year.

The above survey information shows the value of scouting- and threshold-based spray decisions as opposed to a one-size-fits-all, autopilot, calendar-based approach. The latter approach typically falls under the category of revenge, recreational or default treatments — not a recipe for profit.