Are you seeing problems statewide or are there worse pockets?

“This armyworm infestation hit hard in the south of the state. But it’s been just as heavy, or maybe worse, in the northeast.

“It looks like it will be a statewide issue, that the insects will be bad everywhere.

“A lot of rice stinkbugs went through the wheat crop. We’re still seeing those on wild hosts, right now. There are enough wild hosts to sustain them. Rice stinkbugs were bad in 2011 and, while levels may not be quite as high this year, they will be a problem once rice begins to head.”

More on the mild winter/warm spring…

“The growing conditions this spring have been exceptionally good for wild hosts. That’s also good for the pests that build up on those weeds. All the numbers are extremely high for nearly every pest we’ve got.

“With the mild winter, it’s not a big surprise that the pest numbers are higher than normal. But the level of populations so early is a surprise.

“We’re already getting reports of spider mites on seedling cotton in the Bootheel of Missouri and northeast Arkansas.

“Western flower thrips are also moving through the state. Those began in Louisiana, I believe, and have now hit a lot of Arkansas cotton. That cotton had a seed treatment and the western flower thrips waited it out. They’re now banging up some of the earliest-planted cotton from southeast Arkansas up to Marianna.

“Thrips numbers are also extremely high in early-planted crops.”

On treatment options in an unprecedented situation…

“My biggest concern in soybeans is with garden webworms, fall armyworms and, yellowstriped armyworms. Those caterpillars normally show up in late June or July, and hardly ever are at damaging levels.

“I worry that a lot of pyrethroids will be applied early, probably the worst scenario for conserving beneficial insects. We need to save our beneficial complex as much as possible.

“My suggestion is to stay away from the pyrethroids this early. Try to use an alternative chemistry like Intrepid or Tracer – something that doesn’t disrupt the beneficials.

“In cotton, a lot of applications for thrips will reduce our beneficials and make mite and aphid problems worse.

“We really need to make applications of insecticide only as needed. Convenience applications or spraying an insecticide because you’re going across the field for something else can actually cause more problems than it will solve. There will be plenty of opportunities to spray for insect pests this year, I guarantee it. So, spend your money wisely, only as needed.”

UPDATE

On May 11, Farm Press again spoke with Lorenz who said his earlier fears were well-founded. “The worms are definitely hitting soybeans – bollworms and other lep pests. We’re picking up a whole complex of worms.”

Corn is yet to be as badly hit. “I guess they’re still small and down in the whorl.

“The worms are only about 25 percent to half-grown, right now. Some folks still aren’t picking them up. But I’m getting a lot of worried calls, particularly in the southern half of the state.”

Lorenz expects the week of May 14 “to give us a good idea of how bad these pests will be.”