The Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton is a useful tool for predicting whether a foliar insecticide application is needed for tobacco thrips control. This online decision aid has been around a few years, but the website recently changed to products.climate.ncsu.edu.
Developed by North Carolina State University, the application uses planting date and local weather data to estimate the size of the local thrips population, the susceptibility of cotton seedling plants and the risk of thrips injury.
The website is simple to use. You select a planting date and mark your farm location on the map. The model will predict the risk of thrips injury for that location and planting date as well as other possible planting dates in the same time frame. The results are easy to interpret — green bars suggest low thrips damage potential, red bars mean predicted risk potential is high. Growers can also see an in-season risk for their geographic location for the entire 2021 planting window.
The tool will give the best predictions within 10 to 14 days after the date you use it since it is based on weather forecasts, according to the website, but you should also check it a few days before you plant.
While designed to be a pre-planting management decision tool, the Thrips Infestation Predictor can also be useful after seeds are in the ground. Checking the site until cotton reaches the four-leaf stage could be helpful in tracking thrips damage potential. It could also aid in decisions such as timing foliar insecticides and identifying key areas and times to scout your fields.
Midsouth entomologists like Scott Stewart with the University of Tennessee are fans of the Thrips Infestation Predictor. Stewart has been promoting the decision aid to producers in western Tennessee for years.
“I think it’s a very useful, user-friendly tool, that growers will like,” Stewart said. “It can help you prioritize the need for making a foliar insecticide application to control thrips. I say give it a try.”
The Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton provides forecasts for thrips damage potential for locations across the Midsouth and Southeast U.S. cotton belt.