Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lygus Tops Watch List for Valley Cotton Growers

Every season, we talk about the threat of lygus bugs to the cotton crop.
Well, this season it’s even more important than ever for growers to keep a close eye on this pest, especially during the squaring period.

Here is cotton square damage from lygus. - UGA photo
Field scout Carlos Silva reports an uptick of lygus bugs and lygus nymphs in the cotton fields.Some growers are already treating for the pest, fearing a heavy loss of squares and, in the long run, a drop in yield. Lygus is a constant threat from early squaring to final boll set.

The pest will pierce squares and damage anthers and other tissues, according to UC IPM. “When squares are less than 0.2 inch (5 mm) long, they shrivel, turn brown, and drop from the plant. Damage to larger squares may be to anthers, styles, and stigma, and may interfere with fertilization. If many squares drop, the plant may put its energy resources into vegetative growth, resulting in tall, spindly plants and reduced yields,” UC IPM adds.

Dr. Pete Goodell of UC IPM points out growers need to be even more vigilant to preserve as many squares as possible to protect their yield this fall because of the drought. Due to the uncertainty of water supplies later this summer, growers may wind up harvesting earlier than usual.
Lygus bug damage to a terminal. - UC IPM photo.

Carlos is snagging an average of one to two lygus bugs per 50 sweeps of his sweep net. In one field, he collected three to five lygusper 50. As a rule, UC IPM puts the treatment threshold at two per 50 from June 15 to 30.

Lygus bugs finds a home in alfalfa.
“Staying on top of lygus is a big issue right now,” Carlos says. For growers with nearby alfalfa fields, it is crucial they leave strips of uncut alfalfa during harvest to help keep lygus from fleeing into cotton. Remember, lygus prefer to live in alfalfa. “There is a lot of lygus in the alfalfa fields,”Carlos notes.

Meanwhile, Carlos says alfalfa growers are preparing for another cutting over the next couple weeks. One grower cut his crop a little early to minimize damage from weevils and worms.
In general, though, “pest counts have been pretty low in alfalfa,” Carlos says.

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