Michasia Dowdy, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
UP AND GROWING: Cotton planting in Kansas was largely complete by the end of the first week of June, with many fields that were planted in late April and early May already up and growing.
ANTS AND APHIDS: Many early season insects are not a big threat to the seedling cotton crop. That includes aphids and ants, shown on this seedling. Those would-be pests have natural enemies that tend to move in and take care of them.
CUPPED LEAVES: This cotton seedling damage is not caused by a natural pest, but rather by herbicide drift. The cupped leaf damage is indicative of damage from exposure to 2,4-D.
NO PROBLEM: Several growers have seen large worms like this one and become alarmed. But agronomist Rex Friesen says they are not a problem. They are “white lined sphinx moth” larvae, and they love purselane weeds but don’t eat cotton.
GRASSHOPPER NYMPH: Grasshoppers rarely do enough damage to the cotton crop to require treatment, Friesen says. They generally show up on the edges for fields or in grassy waterways. If nymphs are present in large numbers when the crop is very young, they may require intervention. Otherwise, as the crop grows it becomes less vulnerable to damage.
John C. French Sr., Retired, Universities:Auburn, GA, Clemson and U of MO, Bugwood.org
VULNERABLE STAGE: For newly emerged cotton, thrips are the greatest insect threat. In years when the cotton is growing before wheat dries down, that can be a major problem. Thrips prefer to feed on wheat and will remain in the fields as long as the wheat is green. When it matures, they move out of wheat and into cotton fields. The crop is most vulnerable at about the two true leaf stage.