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Harvest underway in Texas Valley, whitefly pressure a concern

Logan Hawkes 2018-cotton-harvest-up-close-hawkes
Cotton harvest underway in the Valley.
IPM agent warns growers to treat for whiteflies before they irrigate to avoid stained cotton.

Harvest is in full swing as several fields across the Texas Valley have been defoliated and are being harvested with more to come, writes Texas A&M AgriLife IPM Extension Agent Dr. Danielle Sekula, in her “Pest Cast" newsletter. “It has been very hot weather each day with temperatures reaching into the 100s, which has helped some of our later-planted cotton catch up in maturity.”

The primary pest pressure Sekula has seen is whiteflies. “There are so many whiteflies. Many growers and consultants have seen them move from one area to another this week.”

During defoliation, whiteflies will either migrate to a nearby cotton field yet to be defoliated or they will seek refuge in nearby citrus, sunflowers, cabbage, or any nearby crop where they can find shelter and food, Sekula writes.

“Growers, with cotton along the river, are experiencing this the most as some open cotton has lint stained from the sooty mold that can occur if whitefly populations get out of hand. I have some growers that are putting one last irrigation on their cotton to help mature out the top of the canopy. Those growers should really be on top of whiteflies or spray prior to irrigation to avoid stained cotton as the whiteflies continue to migrate out of fields being defoliated.”

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