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Arkansas cotton besieged by insects

Arkansas’ cotton growers have a triple headache this year due to insects, weeds and hot temperatures, says Tom Barber, Arkansas Extension cotton specialist.

“Pest problems in cotton have been fairly high this year, especially with plant bugs in the Southeast delta region. However, our problems started early with a fairly heavy thrips population and early spider mite problem in Mississippi County and a few other counties.

“The story in the southern part of the state has been heavy plant bug pressure. The increased corn acreage really helped to increase the plant bug problem this year,” Barber said.

Pigweed, or Palmer amaranth, has been a lingering problem. “There have been numerous reports of control failures with … glyphosate on this problem weed. It appears as if we have a growing problem with glyphosate-resistant pigweed across the state. This will continue to be a major problem in the future with cotton production in Arkansas.”

The third tier of this triple headache is the 100-degree heat that plagued Arkansas in late July and August.

“In temperatures as high as we have experienced this year, crop yields could be reduced because of cotton pollination problems leading to boll shed. Irrigation timing was extremely important this year.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service said that as of Aug. 19, 23 percent of the crop was in excellent condition; 44 percent was in very good condition; 23 percent was fair, and 10 percent was poor.

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