Early season practices for managing plant bugs in cotton can result in significantly higher yields for Mississippi growers, studies have shown.

“There are a lot of things growers and crop consultants can do early season to have an impact on plant bug management,” Jeff Gore, assistant research professor at the Delta Research and Extension Center, Stoneville, Miss., said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association at Mississippi State University and a following presentation at the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association annual meeting at Alexandria, La.

“Several factors affect earliness: variety selection, planting date, thrips management, weed management — anything that delays the crop can make plant bug control more difficult.

“In our trials, the later the planting date, the more insecticide applications were required and the greater the yield loss from plant bug damage. If we planted mid- to late April and early May, we only had to make three or four applications during the entire season, whereas with mid May-early June plantings we had to spray a lot more.”

Selecting varieties for earliness is also important, Gore says. In studies conducted by graduate student Brian Adams, combining early planting with early maturing varieties resulted in less damage and less yield loss.