U.S. cotton producers lost 3.01 percent of their crop to insects in 2011, one of the lowest percentages since entomologists began reporting losses 32 years ago, according to a preliminary report of Cotton Insect Losses 2012, compiled by entomologist Mike Williams.

The report said management costs are up about $10 an acre from 2010, at $62.25. Costs plus loss came in at about $100 per acre, compared to $91 per acre in 2010.

Williams said that costs plus loss trended higher from the 1970s to about 2000, then started a sharp decline. “It looks like we may have bottomed out in 2009, then in 2010, we started back up. The trend is still low, which is good for farmers.”

Williams said anytime total insect losses fall below 4 percent, producers have done a good job of managing pests. “It really is a credit to all of the industry and entomologists in that we are able to keep it that low.”

The data, gleaned from surveys of cotton entomologists across the Cotton Belt, was presented at the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Orlando, Fla.

Lygus, or tarnished plant bug, was the No. 1 cotton pest in 2011, supplanting the bollworm/budworm complex, which led the field in 2010. Losses to Lygus totaled 1.03 percent. That’s about one-third of the losses reported, according to Williams. “About 50 percent of U.S. acres are infested with Lygus. California reported losses of 3.8 percent, which is pretty high for them. The majority of the losses were reported in California, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.”

Thrips were the second most-damaging pest in 2011, according to the preliminary data. “This year, the acres infested are down a little bit, from what is usually over 90 percent of the total acres, to 83 percent. Kansas, Tennessee and Virginia reported the highest losses to thrips. But it’s still less than 1 percent, 0.69 percent.”