LUBBOCK, Texas — Winter weeds hosted a multitude of insects and with a late start to the season some farmers are starting to see potential problems.
“We anticipate now with warm weather we may be seeing those insects shift into the cotton crop,” said Kerry Siders, of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “Of course we have a good beneficial load out there as well, a lot of spiders, a lot of ladybugs, green lacewing, which are poised to help out as well but at some point when that cotton crop reaches a size where it can hold more pests more beneficials it will start causing damage and we need to be in the field scouting.”
Spraying a field with chemicals should be a last resort due to the impact of cost and safety to the environment and population.
“On a smaller plant, worms as an example are exposed to a lot of the environment, the heat, winds, and so natural mortality is high,” Siders said. “Then again beneficials take a toll. They have to have a food source and those pests are a prime food source.”
The most important thing producers need to be cognizant of is the squaring, flowering and bowl development of a crop in its current state.
“If a flower that is on a cotton plant is not formed by August 20th odds are that fruit will most likely not result in a harvest-able bowl,” Siders said. “You’re going to be very conservative about what more you put into it. Fertilizer, water, growth regulators, you’re probably going to pull back on those things and say this is not going to yield sufficient enough to pay for these inputs.”
There are resources to help people determine the economic threshold of your crop such as the extension service or a private company.
Whether it is looking at the plant, looking at insects or weeds, having that extra person in the field, putting all this together is extremely important.