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Posted 29 June 2015. PMN Crop News.

Managing Plant Bugs in Squaring Cotton

Source: North Carolina State University Press Release.

Raleigh, North Carolina (June 18, 2015)--Although it looks like plant bugs may be again be an issue in 2015, we donít need to panic. What I mean by donít panic is that we shouldnít spray if itís not needed. Growers in the Midsouth contend with plant bugs at much greater densities and frequencies than we do. Managing plant bugs is as easy as any of our other pests if you have a scouting plan and stick to it. At least go out and look to see what is in your cotton before you decide to spray or not spray. I cannot urge how important it is to both monitor square retention and to check for plant bugs. Plant bugs arenít the only cause of square loss- other stresses in the environment can cause this. So you donít want to spray a field where bugs arenít the problem. Also, plant bugs are extremely mobile, and can rapidly move in and out of fields. Sometimes they may be present (especially adults), but not causing square loss.


Weekly checks of upper square retention is the most efficient way to assess if plant bugs can either be ruled out as an economic concern at that time or if sweeping for the adults and nymphs is needed. An upper square retention rate of 80% of more usually indicates that plant bugs are not present at damaging levels. Focus on first position squares. If upper square retention is less than 80%, you should sweep six to eight or 10 locations in the field away from the edge, looking for live adult and immature plant bugs. In most years in North Carolina, square retention is very high Ė often in the mid-90ís. A threshold of eight plant bugs per 100 sweeps combined with loss in square retention usually indicates that a spray is needed at that time. Remember that when cotton is approximately one week into blooming, a five-foot black beat cloth is a more accurate sampling devise than the sweep net for plant bug, especially immatures. Iíll blog about this sampling option in the coming weeks. This article covers what you can spray.