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Focus on Cotton

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Managing Thrips in Seedling Cotton With
Starter Fertilizer and a Single Foliar Application

By Michael D. Toews, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
University of Georgia
Dept. of Entomology

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Summary: Studies were conducted in the southeastern United States to investigate optimal practices for mitigating thrips injury to seedling cotton. Thrips are the most consistent insect pest of cotton production and the loss of aldicarb from the marketplace is driving the need for alternative treatments. In a comparison of foliar insecticides, there were fewer thrips immatures observed in plots treated with Benevia (cyazypyr), Radiant SC (spinetoram), or Orthene 97 (acephate); conversely, little thrips suppression was observed in plots treated with Karate with Zeon Technology (lambda-cyhalothrin). Results show that the optimal timing of foliar applications was at 90% first true leaf bud. Finally, there was a clear benefit to using starter fertilizer when planting early on conventionally tilled soils under irrigation. Generally speaking, thrips should be considered an early season plant stress that can be masked by plant compensation, but managing thrips will provide a healthier plant that is better able to withstand later stresses such as drought, plant pathogens, nematodes, or herbicide injury.

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