Time to Check Cotton for Thrips

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This is just a reminder to check cotton for thrips. It’s a hard reminder when there is so much to be done, but early sprays are worth more. Don’t forget thrips injury is a function of plant growth and thrips dispersal. A slow growing plant and lots of thrips can mean lots of injury. Right now, even though growing conditions are improving, thrips are dispersing off maturing winter weeds and wheat into cotton.

The new thrips forecasting tool predicted that cotton planted during the first two weeks of May will be very susceptible to thrips injury (see this article for more details on this tool). We also have solid research demonstrating that early sprays for thrips (at, or just before, the one leaf stage) give you the most bang for your buck. This is because the adults migrate to fields and lay eggs in cotyledons. So if you see immatures on your plant (see photo), it means that those eggs have hatched and your seed treatment or in-furrow could be breaking. Our threshold to spray is two immature thrips per plant, with injury present on 25% of the plants.

tobacco thrips

Adult (left) and immature (right) tobacco thrips, the common species on NC cotton. Photo credit Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia, Bugwood.org