After substantial rains and moisture last year followed by an exceptionally mild winter, entomologists expressed concern earlier that conditions appeared ripe this growing season for an uptick in pest pressure for much of Texas.
True to predictions, plant bugs in cotton and the early arrival of sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum this spring has South Texas producers seeing a substantial influx of crop pests, especially in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
For grain sorghum producers, the fight against sugarcane aphids (SCA) has a couple of dependable choices this year in their chemical armory. Dow AgroScience's Transform WG and Bayer CropScience's Sivanto are available for use, both belonging to relatively new classes of insecticides, sulfoximines in the case of Transform, and butenolides for Sivanto. Both products have proven effective in test trails in Texas conducted by Extension researchers last year.
The use of Transform, however, requires a Section 18 emergency use permit from the Environmental Protection Agency before use. While once used as a registered chemical, use was subsequently restricted by a federal court in California when it was determined widespread use could be harmful to pollinator populations.
A Section 18 is an emergency exemption allowing use of a pesticide on a specific crop for the management of a specific insect pest for a given time period. While Transform WG did receive a Section 18 use permit for use against SCA in Texas grain sorghum earlier this year, the product was not authorized for use in cotton until last week.
Cotton producers will need it. In recent weeks, a significant influx of plant bugs in cotton has proven problematic in Rio Grande Valley cotton. The Texas Valley represents the first geographic area within the United States were cotton is planted each year.
Weslaco-based Extension integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Danielle Sekula reports high numbers of sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum and high numbers of cotton aphids and other cotton plant bugs at various locations across the three county area of the Lower Rio Grande Valley as early as last month (March), at least three weeks earlier than average. She attributed the early arrival of pest pressure to good soil moisture through the second half of the last growing season and mild winter temperatures that allowed many pests to overwinter.
Since March, sugarcane aphid populations in sorghum have declined, thanks to management and control efforts, including early treatment. But plant bugs in cotton have been increasing across much of the lower Valley in recent weeks. Aphids, fleahoppers, spider mites and whiteflies have been reported in many fields in spite of treatment, though numbers were being controlled through systematic spraying applications of products including Strafer, Assail, Carbine and Sivanto.
What happens in the Valley generally spreads over time to adjoining areas like the Coastal Bend and other parts of South Texas, with a few farmers north of the Valley already reporting pests in young cotton.
Nueces County Extension agent Jason Ott is awaiting the latest scouting reports from across the county, but says there was an uptick in pest pressure last year because of substantial moisture. Combined with a mild winter, he does not intend to be surprised when pest problems arrive this season.
Reading the handwriting on the wall, some South Texas farmers say they need additional tools to incorporate in their control and management plans in cotton this year. The Texas Dept. of Agriculture subsequently made a request to the EPA for a special Section 18 emergency permit for the use of Transform in cotton to control plant bugs, and that emergency use permit was granted last week and is effective through Oct. this year.
Effective immediately, Transform WG is available for restricted use in cotton to control plant bugs with the following instructions:
This labeling must be in the possession of the user at the time of application.
- It is in violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.
- Read the label affixed to the container for Transform WG insecticide before applying. Carefully follow all precautionary statements and applicable use directions.
- Any adverse effects resulting from the use of Transform WG under this emergency exemption must be immediately reported to the Texas Department of Agriculture.
This product is highly toxic to bees exposed through contact during spraying and while spray droplets are still wet. This product may be toxic to bees exposed to treated foliage for up to three hours following application. Toxicity is reduced when spray droplets are dry. Risks to managed and native pollinators from contact with pesticide spray or residues can be minimized when applications are made before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. local time or when the temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit) at the site of application.
Directions for Use
For plant bugs, 1.5 to 2.25 ounces per acre are authorized.
Advisory Pollinator Statement
Notifying known beekeepers within one mile of the treatment area 48 hours before the product is applied will allow them to take additional steps to protect bees. If known apiaries are within one mile of cotton fields intended for treatment, applications should be made within three hours of sunset during the flowering period. Prior to use of Transform WG Insecticide, growers are advised to refer to and, where feasible, observe the cooperative standard outlined in the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) for additional guidance and bee conservation stewardship efforts.
Treat in accordance with local economic thresholds. Consult your Dow AgroSciences representative, cooperative extension service, certified crop advisor or state agricultural experiment station for any additional local use recommendations for your area.
Use a higher rate in the rate range for heavy pest populations. Two applications may be required for optimum tarnished plant bug control under high pest pressure or heavy immigration of plant bugs from other crops.
Spray Drift Management
Applications are prohibited above wind speeds of 10 miles per hour (mph).
- Pre-harvest Interval: Do not apply within 14 days of harvest.
- Minimum Treatment Interval: Do not make applications less than five days apart.
- Do not make more than four applications per acre per year.
- Do not make more than two consecutive applications per crop.
- Do not apply more than a total of 8.5 ounces of Transform WG (0.266 lb. active ingredient of sulfoxaflor) per acre per year.