Article by Jack Bacheler.
Most cotton producers should be “enjoying” a lull between the end of the thrips season and the time when plant bugs could show up as a square loss issue. Due to our recent rainy weather, a large amount of field border, ditch bank, CRP land and other plant bug host vegetation is present. This vegetation could result in significant plant bug levels (at least by North Carolina standards), if we get the hot dry weather conducive for rapid drying of these plant bug hosts. During the pre-bloom period of squaring, assessing the need for treatment relatively straightforward because high upper square retention (80% or more) typically indicates that plant bugs are not an economic issue at that time. Conversely, square retention of less than 80% signals the need for sweep net sampling to determine if the treatment level of 8 plant bug/100 sweeps exists. In most years in North Carolina, square retention levels are often in the 95%-plus range. Once blooming begins, a drop (aka beat cloth) is the sampling device of choice for a combination of adult and especially immature plant bugs. Additionally, although usually not widespread consistent pests in NC, cotton aphids and spider mites can be a real pain on some farms. Finally, every year brings its share of insect surprises. This year will be no different