From his six trials in 2013, Smith reached a few conclusions.

“There’s no doubt that thrips are the most widespread insect pest of cotton because they affect every acre every year across the entire Cotton Belt,” he says. “They’ll likely always be a factor in cotton production. I don’t see any technology or anything coming in the future that’ll keep thrips from always being a factor.”

It’s also important to remember that thrips damage in an individual field is influenced by several things, says Smith. “These include planting date and weather. Weather could have an impact on the thrips themselves, on cotton, or, like last year, on the wild hosts where thrips are coming from. Rainfall amounts and nighttime temperatures impact thrips the most.”

Another factor, he says, is the tillage system being used. “You get fewer thrips in a reduced tillage system. The more litter that’s on the ground, the fewer thrips you’ll have. We don’t exactly understand that, but thrips are much heavier in conventional tillage systems.”

Additional factors affecting thrips pressure include the in-furrow seed treatments used at planting and whether or not you make a foliar spray on top of the in-furrow seed treatment.