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New thrips forecasting tool helps cotton growers with pre-plant decisions

NC State researchers have created a thrips forecasting tool to make pre-plant decisions for cotton.

To manage thrips, most cotton growers know that they need to treat before planting, either by using an insecticidal seed treatment or an insecticide in-furrow. However, many growers aren’t sure which one will be more effective, or whether a foliar spray will do the trick.

The online forecasting tool can help make those decisions easier. Researchers at NC State University have used their knowledge of what factors influence thrips damage and have developed a tool that uses planting date, temperature, precipitation and timing of thrips pressure and its severity to predict when cotton is at risk.

The tool saves growers time the money by giving them information that will focus their most intensive management efforts on cotton that will be planted at the highest risk time for thrips. In a post on the NC State Extension website, the researchers give some additional tips to help make thrips management more effective:

  • Scout cotton in high thrips risk areas more intensively than other areas.
  • By the time thrips injury is detected, it is usually too late to prevent damage to the crop.
  • Immature thrips are a good sign that at-plant insecticides are running their course and another spray may be needed.
  • Cotton is most sensitive to thrips damage when the first true leaf begins to appear between the cotyledons. Targeting foliar sprays at this time has been proven to be more effective than foliar sprays at later stages (2-3 true leaves).

Because the tool is based off of weather forecasts, it will give the best predictions within 10-14 days after the date you use it. Researchers recommend using the tool two weeks before planting, followed by an additional use a few days before planting. The tool should be used every week after planting to track damage potential until the four leaf stage.

A web-based training will guide users on how to use the tool. The presentation includes usage instructions for growers in North Carolina and the Southeast.

Read more about the new thrips management tool.

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