“The later we planted, the greater the yield loss we had from plant bugs,” Gore says. “So, our bottom line message is that consultants and growers need to be aware that planting early and using an early maturing variety can reduce the impact of plant bugs and reduce the number of insecticide applications.

“If you plant a later-maturing variety, definitely plant that variety first and save the shorter-season varieties for your last plantings.”

Data from work by another Delta Research and Extension Center researcher, Don Cook, show that managing thrips early and getting the crop off to a good start is also important to prevent delays in maturity and improve plant bug management, Gore says.

“We’ve also looked at shortening spray intervals and rotating, as best we can, the few insecticide options we have available. Shortening intervals from 7 days to 5 days can help to maximize plant bug control.”

Over the last couple of years, he says, “We’ve also been looking at timing of applications of Diamond, an insect growth regulator that affects plant bug nymphs. In 2009 tests, we found that adult plant bug populations peaked between the third week of squaring and first week of bloom, and that applying Diamond when the adults first begin migrating into the fields provided a protective barrier as those adults laid eggs and nymphs hatched.

“We saw 150 pound to 300 pound lint increases from one application of Diamond during the window when adult populations peak. Across all treatments where Diamond was applied early, we had a 172 pound yield advantage.”

In 2010, trials were expanded to look at different timings, different numbers of applications, and different combinations.