Our damaged boll survey, though just now beginning, has covered just over 100 cotton fields in 4 counties in the state.

Trends have already become evident.

To no one’s surprise, stink bug damage is off to a strong start, while bollworm damage has been extremely light. Some growers appear to have completely overlooked stink bugs as a potential threat this year, while most producers appear to have managed them reasonably well.

Unfortunately, these surveys do not uncover earlier damage from thrips and plant bugs. I suspect our independent crop consultants survey of pest-specific insecticide use, their comments and our field test results will show that both thrips and plant bugs were a headache for many cotton producers this growing season.

In all but the most unusual circumstances, insect pests such as stink bugs and bollworms should not cause economic damage from this point on (late soybeans may be another story).

During the past week, I have been in a few very late, immature cotton fields with mostly squares and immature bolls. These fields would have made me nervous about potential stink bug damage to bolls a few weeks ago.

In four recent days of assessing boll damage across Halifax, Northampton, Wilson and Wayne counties, I found only a single 3rdstage green stink bug. It appears stink bugs have now fled even most late cotton fields in search of greener pastures — in some cases soybean fields undergoing pod fill.

With this final update, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank county agents, independent crop consults, industry personnel, colleagues both here at NCSU and elsewhere, and producers for making my 38-year career here enjoyable and rewarding.

With all entomology field crops responsibility (except for tobacco) soon falling to a single individual housed two hours from NCSU, I am hopeful we can fill an Extension/research position to address the many insect current and upcoming issues facing our 3.5 million acre, 1.5 billion dollar field crop industry.