Auburn, May 25---Farmers
are always battling some type of problem it seems, and right now,
the problem for many is insects. Cotton farmers are dealing with
several insect pests at the moment says an entomologist with the
Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Dr. Ron Smith, whose
work focuses on the pests of cotton, says cutworms are a widespread
problem for the state's cotton farmers.
emergence as a cotton pest is somewhat a result of increased use of
conservation tillage methods," says Smith. "Cutworms are
the larval form of a particular family of moths. The females lay
their eggs in the dry organic matter left on the soil surface by
conservation tillage. This is an excellent food source for cutworms
and then they attack other plants, including cotton seedlings.
Cutworms can really decimate a stand."
Smith says cutworms are
just part of the territory these days for Alabama cotton farmers. He
says the best control for these pests is to prevent an outbreak.
"Farmers are having
good success keeping them under control by applying pyrethroid
insecticides at planting," Smith says. "It costs them less
than a dollar an acre and it just makes economic sense to use those
Another insect is a
growing problem in Alabama cotton fields: that pest, the
"For the third
consecutive year, we have had to deal with grasshoppers in cotton
fields. They can devastate a stand of young cotton seedlings if a
farmer does not use some type of control," says Smith.
"Their emergence as
a new pest of cotton may also be related to increased use of
conservation tillage. Grasshoppers benefit from the increased food
source much the same way as cutworms do," he says. "But
the grasshopper problem may also relate to the extremely dry weather
we have experienced over the last several years."
As with cutworms, Smith
says it's best to use an insecticide control on grasshoppers prior
to the cotton seedling's emergence from the ground. They can be
controlled by several insecticides.
One insect problem has
just about resolved itself for the year.
Smith says this spring
farmers saw the worst outbreak of true armyworms in the state in 30
"I don't think I
can recall a worse year for true armyworms."
True armyworms are an
almost annual spring phenomenon, but the good news is that usually
only one generation of the insect causes problems to economic crops
such as small grains, corn and fescue pastures.
Smith cautions that true
armyworms should not be confused with either beet armyworms or fall
armyworms. Both these pests occur later in the growing season and
usually do more economic damage than true armyworms.
Source: Dr. Ron Smith,
Extension Entomologist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, (334)