Whatever excitement Mid-South cotton producers were feeling about the new farm bill was dulled considerably in mid-May by a plague of unfavorable growing conditions and thrips.

“We need a measure of patience right now,” said Charles Snipes, Extension area agronomist with Mississippi State University. “Three days of the north wind and the 40-degree nights have really magnified the small problems that we used to ignore. But what we have right now could be fixed by a spell of warm weather.”

Cool weather, slow-growing plants, the degradation of in-furrow materials and the drying winter wheat crop have encouraged the development of thrips in cotton, which have been obliging to say the least.

How much damage has cotton incurred from the pest? “A lot will depend on how well the cotton grows off subsequent to damage and what level of damage there is,” Snipes said. “Thrips can cause some serious problems in the terminal if they're bad enough.”

According to Gordon Andrews, Extension entomologist at Mississippi State University, the drying down of wheat crops and winter grasses were a primary source for thrips in cotton. “The thrips were really heavy last week, but seem to be a little lighter this week (of May 20).”

Andrews believes that drier areas “probably have more of a problem with thrips than wetter areas. But if you don't have something underneath your cotton, it's worse.

“We're also getting close to the end of that three-week period when Temik and all your seed treatments play out on you,” he added. “So if you have thrips on your plant, you better get them off. And we need some warm weather so we can get some leaves on the plant.”