The high hopes that Gaines county farmers had, based on a wet fall and winter, have diminished somewhat at planting time as timely rains for seeding spring crops never materialized.
“We have watched several storms detour around Gaines County in the last month,” said Texas AgriLife integrated pest management specialist Manda Cattaneo. “As a result we have not received any significant rainfall since March,” she said.
Even with dry conditions farmers are well on the way to finishing irrigated cotton and peanut seeding. “Most of the irrigated acreage has been planted and growers are working on planting their dryland production fields,” Cattaneo said. “The final planting date for insurance purposes in Gaines County is June 5. Current cotton growth stages range from just emerged to 3 true-leaf, with most at the 1 true-leaf stage.”
Weather also has affected heat unit accumulations. Cotton planted in late April and early May had several weather fluctuations. “We have had several cold spells in which no heat units were accumulated during a 1 to 3 day period,” Cattaneo said. “As a result, emergence was slow in early planted cotton and peanut fields. I have seen some seedlings with reduced vigor due to ‘big shank.’ Several of these plants have succumbed to fungal pathogens that reduced the plant stand in a few fields.”
Cattaneo noted several adult thrips in cotton during the last week. “I have not seen any immature thrips,” she said. “This indicates that the seed treatments or soil applied insecticides are holding in these fields. However, growers should be monitoring fields on a weekly basis to detect potentially damaging thrips populations, which can develop quickly in fields that did not receive an at-planting insecticide.”
Thrips are slender, straw colored insects about 1/15 inch long. Adults are winged. The pests attack leaves, leaf buds, and very small squares. Symptoms may include silvering of the lower leaf surface. “When scouting for thrips, be sure to tease open any closed leaves, because thrips love to hide in the curled up leaves,” Cattaneo said.
“At our current weather conditions, it may be beneficial to treat for thrips when the average number is equal to the number of true leaves. For example: If you have 2 true leaves, then your action threshold is 2 thrips per plant.”
Cattaneo said several reports of stand reduction indicate injury from false wireworms feeding on cotyledon cotton. “I was able to confirm the false wireworms in a couple of fields in the southwestern section of the county. Preventive seed treatments are the best means of managing wireworms.”