“In the test, the check plots were pretty well beat up, which is what you would expect in areas that traditionally have high thrips populations. The next treatment was Avicta, and four weeks after application, the cotton plants were beginning to look pretty beat up as well, again what is expected with high thrips pressure,” Bacheler says.

However, when they added imidacloprid to the Avicta seed treatment, the plants looked significantly better, the North Carolina State entomologist says.

“We had similar, though less conclusive, results at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station in Rocky Mount, N.C. when we applied the same combination of seed treatment and imidacloprid.

“So, this does give us some optimism that treatments like this can improve the tools we do have to manage thrips and make some of these more commonly used seed treatments work better and/or longer,” he adds.

The farmer field results in Wilson, N.C., points out another important part of any overall thrips management strategy — the grower. Bacheler says the grower did an outstanding job of applying the material right down the seed row.

In Rocky Mount the application didn’t go on quite so efficiently and the results weren’t quite as good, he says.

In the Wilson test, Bacheler points out by applying more imidacloprid to the seed treatment proved to be efficient, reducing the number of thrips per five plants from 250 in the check field to 9.5 for the test treatment. While that level of control might not be ideal for some growers, it is clearly a big improvement over seed treatments alone for thrips management.

Bacheler says he hopes the results of these tests will inspire companies that sell imadicloprid seed treatments to re-evaluate their labels and, hopefully, increase the label rates to help growers improve the length of control of thrips offered by these products.

Managing thrips is always a challenge in the northern half of North Carolina and in southeastern Virginia — an area often referred to as ‘thrips central’.

This area had a significant reduction in cotton acreage last year and most experts contend the reduction will be even more severe in 2013.

Fewer cotton acres, combined with the need for increased yield and quality to make a profit growing cotton, will likely force growers to plant cotton on their most productive land.

The same combination will make it even more imperative to keep young cotton plants healthy and growing during the highly variable weather conditions that traditionally occur in the area during the first couple of months of cotton production.