Farmers in some parts of Alabama got a reprieve this year from kudzu bugs, but they should expect the insect pest to be statewide in 2014.

“Next year, I think we have the potential for kudzu bugs to be a statewide issue on soybeans,” says Tim Reed, Auburn University Extension entomologist. “This year, we sprayed for it in about a dozen counties, along Interstate 85 and the Georgia state line and in counties like Blount, Talladega and Tallapoosa.”

This year, says Reed, in certain locations, pressure built on early planted soybeans severely and quickly. “It scared some folks, and they went out and sprayed when they were running five per plants on plants that were less than 1 foot tall. If you see that, it’ll scare you, and they will be bad for a long time during the growing season if they start out on seedling beans at such a high density,” he says.

Kudzu bugs were in large enough numbers to be of any use to researchers in central Alabama, says Reed. “The only place where I’ve got kudzu bugs in large enough numbers that I should be able to get data on yields is at the Prattville agricultural unit. They have been really heavy there this year after not having them at all last year. There’s kudzu on either side of that substation, and I suspect that contributed to it. At Crossville, where we had them last year, they haven’t been bad in our plots. They started out like they might be, but they never built up.”

At Prattville, Reed says he initially became concerned when he started picking up about five per sweep. “Research from the University of Georgia indicates that might be the critical point to start spraying, especially if part of that count is in immature insects. But in the unsprayed plots that were planted in mid-April with a late Group IV, they were running 60 per sweep. That’s pretty heavy, and I’m expecting to see some yield loss in those plots,” he says.