What is in this article?:
• Consultant responses to our insect survey questionnaire are both an accurate account of the past “insect year” and represent approximately one third of North Carolina’s total cotton acreage.
Stink bug damage
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.
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.