Field trials conducted in the past two years in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are providing valuable insights into how Southeastern cotton producers can battle thrips infestations.

“We’ve been doing identical trials on a number of different fronts looking for ways to mitigate our thrips infestations,” says Michel Toews, University of Georgia entomologist.

“In the Southeast, we seem to have more than our fair share of thrips, and we seem to get everything from cosmetic damage to definite economic impacts.

“Delayed maturity is very common in our untreated plots, and in some cases, we see stand loss under severe conditions in the northern part of the Southeast.”

The loss of aldicarb or Temik is driving the need to identify alternatives that growers can use, says Toews.

“We’ve shown conclusively that our damage is much worse on conventional-tillage in early planting windows,” he says.

Research has shown that neonicotinoid seed treatments are inadequate in terms of preventing economic damage under very high-pressure situations, he says. “We’ve also shown that if you don’t have a neonicotinoid treatment under there, it can really look bad. So we’re recommending to our growers that such a treatment is absolutely essential in everything we do,” says Toews.

Research also has shown that repeated foliar applications can lead to secondary pest outbreaks, so they should be avoided if at all possible. Growers should limit foliar application for thrips to just one during the best time possible, he recommends.

“We’ve looked at the efficacy of different foliar insecticides in trying to identify different chemistries that’ll be effective. Also, we know that a fast-growing plant is less susceptible to thrips injury, so we wanted to increase the speed at which the plant would be growing.