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Articles from 2019 In December


This is young emerging California rice field

Little markets with large gains in 2019

By Michael Hirtzer and Ashley Robinson

The trade war, wild weather and angry farmers all generated major headlines in 2019 on corn and soybeans. But thinly traded niche commodities posted the most impressive gains for the year.

Rice, vegetable oils and lumber all posted price increases of at least 25%. The reason: Crazy climate conditions were magnified in smaller markets where there’s often less certainty over the supply cushion. Lower trading volumes can also make for exaggerated price moves.

Here are some of the little markets that saw large gains:

Rice and Oats

Excessively wet field conditions hampered U.S. planting and harvesting of rice, soybeans, corn and spring wheat. While crop concerns helped spark annual gains for all those markets, rice’s 28% surge was outsized.

As concerns mounted over U.S. supplies, Brazil’s rice output was also hampered. That means there are fewer options for countries that typically source supplies in the western hemisphere.

“We have one of the smallest rice crops on record in the western hemisphere,” said Milo Hamilton, president of Austin, Texas-based Firstgrain, a rice-trading advisory company. “The domestic price in Brazil is shooting through the roof.”

Oats are on pace to post a fourth straight yearly gain, the longest streak since 2007. The climb was propelled in part by rising demand for oat milk, according to Scott Shiels, grain procurement manager at Grain Millers Canada in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

It’s hard to tell if the gains will last, since relatively better prices may entice farmers to plant more in 2020.

“Rice has outperformed soybeans and corn, so that will create some acreage next year and probably some lower prices,” said Jack Scoville, vice president at Chicago brokerage Price Futures Group.

Vegetable Oils

Prices for cooking oils saw a big boost. The move comes amid the spread of African swine fever in Asia, which is killing off tens of millions of hogs. With a shrinking hog herd, Chinese soybean processors are crushing less to make livestock feed, thereby also reducing supplies of soy oil. The palm-oil market has also been helped by supply concerns and expectations for robust biofuel demand.

Soybean oil traded in Chicago is up 27% in 2019, heading for the largest increase since 2010. Palm oil traded in Malaysia jumped about 47%.

Lumber

Lumber prices had a bit of a roller-coaster ride in 2019. First, Chicago futures fell as much as 15% to this year’s low of $286.10 per 1,000 board feet in late May. The wet spring caused U.S. housing starts to tumble, while producers in Canada’s British Columbia were struggling to manage supplies.

Tides turned when lumber companies finally curbed production, while U.S. housing starts rebounded. Prices are now on pace for an annual gain of 27%.

The rally is expected to continue in 2020. The Canadian curtailments will keep supplies tight in North America, said Kevin Mason, managing director of ERA Forest Products Research.

“It’s going to be definitely a much stronger market,” Mason said.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Michael Hirtzer in Chicago at mhirtzer@bloomberg.net;
Ashley Robinson in Winnipeg (Non BLP Loc) at arobinson193@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net
Millie Munshi, Reg Gale
© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Dec. 31, 2019

Have you checked your stock investments? Numbers are up at the end of the year.

However, the farming economy has had a rough year. Because of that, a bill has been introduced to address mental health on the farm.

There might be a marijuana shortage in Illinois when it can be legally sold starting tomorrow.

decade-ag-changes-1195381597.jpg Andrii Yalanskyi/Getty Images Plus

Reflecting on the 2010s

As we conclude another decade at the end of 2019, it is a good time to reflect back on some things that have occurred in the past decade. Many times, there can be dramatic change over the course of a decade, which has been no different in the decade from 2010-2019. In 2010, iphones were just beginning to get used by large numbers of people, while today the iphone is an essential tool in the lives of many in the U.S. population. Online purchasing of goods and services was just developing at the beginning of the decade, while today, online shopping has forced the closure of many traditional merchandize stores and has changed the entire dynamics of the consumer retail business model.

Most businesses or individuals could come up with many examples how things have changed in the past decade from 2010 to 2019. There have also been some interesting developments in the agriculture industry in the past decade. Following are just a few things that have occurred.

  • There has been a rapid growth of technology in agriculture in the past decade, which has affected everything from farm machinery to farm business management. In 2010, auto-steer technology in farm machinery was in its developmental stage and today it has become quite common in crop production. Robotic milking equipment has been initiated during the past decade, and while it is still quite expensive, it is definitely a “wave of the future”.
  • The growth of “precision farming” methods was enhanced greatly during the most recent decade, allowing crop producers to more precisely apply crop fertilizer and chemicals, which is both more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
  • In the past decade, we have seen significant genetic improvement in corn hybrids and soybean varieties, which has resulted more weather tolerance and greater yield potential. Some of these corn hybrids and soybean varieties have been bred to allow for alternate chemicals for weed control, as well as for more natural control of diseases and insects, without the use of as many chemicals. While there can be both economic and environmental benefits from the development of advanced seed genetics, there are many groups and individuals opposed to the growth and use of GMO seed hybrids and varieties.
  • The livestock industry has also continued to see both genetic and meat quality improvement in the past decade. The industry continues to offer high quality and safe meat and dairy products to consumers in the U.S. and around the world.
  • The ethanol industry grew immensely in the decade from 2000-2009, growing from under 50 production facilities to 185 ethanol plants, and production increasing from just over billion gallons per year to over 15 billion gallons per year. In the past decade the U.S. ethanol industry has been more stable, with approximately 200 operating ethanol plants producing over 16.5 billion gallons per year. The capacity to use ethanol in the U.S. has also flatlined in recent years at a total usage of just over 15 billion gallons per year, despite efforts by industry groups and States such as Minnesota to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline fuel blends. The soybean-based biodiesel industry has also continued to grow and develop during the past decade, and Minnesota has also been a leader in this industry.
  • Land values increased sharply during the first few years of the past decade before declining toward the end of the decade. Based on the Iowa State University land value survey, which released in December each year, average Iowa land values were $4,371 per tillable acre at the end of 2009, then reached a high of $8,716 per acre by the end of 2013, before declining to an average of $7,183 by the end of 2016. In the most recent survey, the average land value in Iowa was $7,432 per acre at the end of 2019.
  • Government farm programs also changed considerably during the past decade. The 2008 Farm Bill governed farm programs from 2010-2013, which included guaranteed annual direct payments of $25-30 per corn base acre and $10-15 per soybean base acre in southern Minnesota. These direct payments were eliminated in the 2014 Farm Bill (2014-2018) and replaced by a farm program that gave eligible producers a choice between the price-only, price loss coverage (PLC) program, and the ag risk coverage (ARC) program, which was revenue-based factoring in both crop prices and yields. The 2018 Farm Bill has continued a choice between the PLC and ARC programs for 2019-2023.
  • The importance of ag trade and exports of grain and livestock products has been growing in importance for several decades and continued to increase in the most recent decade. China, Mexico and Canada account for over 40 percent of all U.S. ag exports, So, when normal ag trading was stymied by tariffs and an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and these three countries in the past two years, it reduced the U.S. exports and lowered farm income levels in both 2018 and 2019. The trade war also resulted in USDA making significant market facilitation program (MFP) payments to crop and livestock producers in those two years to offset the reduced income levels. As we end 2019, there appears to be some hope to end the trade war with China and to implement a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
  • Climate change and global warming were just beginning to be discussed at great length by U.S. and world leaders, as well as by the agriculture industry, at the beginning of the decade. As we enter 2020, ways to address these issues are being discussed by every major industry and by all levels of government. Many of our political leaders at the nnational and state levels are considering measures that could drastically impact farm operations in the future, as well as affect the entire U.S. population.
  • During the past decade, there has been a desire by an increasing number of consumers to know more about the original source of their food and how it was raised. This has resulted in the growth of niche marketing opportunities for farm families to raise organic crops, to sell products through farmers markets, and to sell “natural” or “source identified” meat and dairy products. This growth of this trend is likely to continue in the coming years, especially closer to urban areas of the U.S.
  • The winery and craft brewery industries are quite related to agriculture, with both industries in their infancy in 2010 in states such as Minnesota; however, both industries are now mainstays in many Midwestern communities at the end of the decade.
  • Up until a few years ago, hemp was only associated with marijuana; however, the production of industrial hemp for fiber and CBD oil has really taken off. This was further enhanced when hemp was included in the 2018 Farm Bill as a viable crop, making hemp eligible for crop insurance in 2020. More than 30 states, including Minnesota, now have licensing procedures for raising hemp. In 2016, Minnesota issued 6 grower licenses totaling 38 acres under a hemp pilot program, which had grown to over 300 growers and over 8,000 acres by 2019. There are still many unanswered questions related to hemp production, grower contracts, and the potential for the hemp industry, as we head into the next decade.    

There have been many changes in the agriculture industry and in the daily lives for everyone during the decade of from 2010-2019. We are likely to see many more changes and advancements during the next decade; several that at are positive, as well as some that may be negative. Whether in the agriculture industry or just being a citizen, we all need to be prepared to adjust and adapt to change in the coming years, because it will happen.

1. SWFP-SHELLEY-HUGULEY-19-BARRY-EVANS-WHEAT-HARVEST-23.jpg Shelley H. Huguley/Farm Press
For the 2005 through 2009 marketing years and the 2015 through 2019 marketing years, world wheat exports increased from an average of 4.602 billion bushels per year to 6.557 billion bushels per year.

The Black Sea may be the key to higher wheat prices

Wheat production from the Black Sea exporters (Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) may be the major market factor that will impact Oklahoma/Texas wheat prices. Minor price factors include world wheat production, U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat production, corn production, soft red winter wheat production and wheat production by other major wheat exporting countries.

The world’s hard wheat (hard red winter and hard red spring) exporters are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. Between 2015 and 2019, hard wheat exporters account for 70% of the world’s wheat exports.

For the 2005 through 2009 marketing years and the 2015 through 2019 marketing years, world wheat exports increased from an average of 4.602 billion bushels per year to 6.557 billion bushels per year.

During the same time period, hard wheat exports increased from 47% of the world’s wheat exports to 70%. Every hard wheat exporter’s exports, as a percentage of world wheat exports, declined except for the Black Sea’s percentage, which increased from 16% to 33%.

During the 2010/11 wheat marketing year, projected Black Sea wheat production declined from a projected 4.95 billion bushels to 2.56 billion. Oklahoma and Texas wheat prices increased from $3.90 on July 1, 2010 to $7.03 on December 2, 2010. On February 9, 2011, wheat prices were $8.99. The major reason for a $5.09 price increase was a 49% decline in Black Sea wheat production.

Note during this same time period, U.S. wheat production increased from a projected 2.067 billion bushels to 2.208 billion bushels. Prices increased with above average and higher than expected U.S. production.  

PRICE INCREASE

The stage now is set for a major price increase. Black Sea wheat ending stocks are projected to be 404 million bushels. Black Sea 2019 wheat production was 4.2 billion bushels. This leaves a stocks-to-use ratio of 9.7%.

By contrast, U.S. hard wheat ending stocks are projected to be 779 million bushels from 1.41 billion bushels production and 1.467 billion bushels use. This is a stocks-to-use ratio of 53%.

The Black Sea doesn’t have any spare wheat. Lower 2020 production (depending on how much lower) would result in significantly higher world and U.S. wheat prices.

The current wheat price in Burlington, Oklahoma, is $4.07 and the forward contract price for the 2020 harvest is $4.19. The Perryton, Texas’ current wheat price is $3.91 with a 2020 wheat harvest forward contract price of $4.19. These prices are based off a KC December contract price of $4.31 and a KC July contact price of $4.54. The starting price for the 2020 crop is $4.19.

It is believed that the $4.19 price forward contract price is based on 11.3% protein wheat. The current KC protein premium for 12.6% protein wheat compared to 11.3% is about 40 cents.

Some trade projections indicate that U.S. hard red winter wheat plantings may be 10% less than for the 2019 crop. This lower production could have a limited but positive impact on wheat price.

However, recent history indicates that the Black Sea exporters hold the key to wheat prices. As the charts indicate, they grow 51% of the world’s hard wheat and sell 47% of all wheat exported on the world market. The Black Sea exporters dominate the hard wheat markets.

WheatOutlook.jpg

dfp-brad-robb-grain-bin.jpg Brad Robb
Preserving the quality of grain inside the bin is essential when it is time to sell. New technologies are helping farmers do that while also providing consumer-demanded tracking and tracing information.

Grain bin monitoring systems getting smarter

The need to track and trace commodities used to make the world's food and fiber is being driven by consumers. New grain bin technologies can allow farmers to collect data that can be used to increase a commodity's production and handling transparency to meet those demands while simultaneously protecting the quality and marketability of their grain.

One such technology was highlighted at this year's USA Rice Outlook Conference in Little Rock, Ark. "More consumers are demanding to know the origin of the food they feed their families," says Ian Wade, director of sales, AGI Suretrack, who detailed highlights of BinManager, an automated control system that manages grain inside the bin. "Consumers are basing, in part, their buying decisions on a product's sustainability and how that product's ingredients are handled and protected."

Wade works with farmers, seed processors, seed companies dealing with genetics, and co-ops to protect grain quality as it progresses through the supply chain. "I was told long ago that a grain bin is like a bank, but it's not a bank if you can't sell your grain," Wade says. "Producers always talk about yield, but we're finding buyers will pay premiums if a farmer can grow the genetics and/or quality characteristics buyers want. But that quality must be maintained after harvest."

Creating the technology

While working for an independently-owned Midwestern seed company exporting tofu soybeans, Todd Spheres, founder of IntelliFarms, was responsible for maintaining quality seed the company could export, as well as insuring the ongoing relationships with farmers who grew the soybeans for the seed company that was more than willing to pay a premium.

"Todd couldn't replace the growers fast enough who were leaving because soybeans were losing that premium quality inside their grain bins. They were spending their time growing a premium product but would end up having to sell it for a commercial price," Wade says. "He eventually worked with an engineer to develop a system that could run autonomously based on preset temperature and moisture targets."

Iterations of the technology progressed and today BinManager provides moisture and temperature readings at multiple points within the bin via sensors mounted within cables hanging down through the grain.

"The whole premise is wrapped around knowing the temperature and moisture levels inside the bin. The system takes into consideration the ambient temperature, and then controls the heaters and fans until that target moisture level and temperature are reached," Wade says. "Carbon dioxide levels are important, especially for any grain that will be labeled food grade, so we added a CO2 monitoring component into the system."

Safety and monitoring

Grain bin entrapments have taken too many lives and their occurrence has been on the rise the last several years. "This system essentially takes away the need to ever climb into a grain bin because it provides you with all the information needed to prevent spoilage or molded grain that can create large chunks that get pulled down to the sump and bridge over the hole," Wade says. "A clogged sump has been the ticket to danger for so many famers."

The web-based system will generate multiple updates each day to a smart phone. "More times than not, if a heater doesn't come on at 2 a.m., a farmer isn't going to know it," Wade says. "If the system doesn't check in on the hour as it's supposed to do, it will send an alert signaling a problem and in what bin the problem is occurring."

A farmer's grain is an economic asset. Knowing how many bushels each bin holds is important to track those assets. "At some point in the future, I believe insurance adjusters and bank loan officers will want to know all of a farmer's assets when applying for a loan or filing a claim," Wade says. "It's important to be able to provide that information, as well as that commodity's tracking and tracing history that seems to be having more impact on the economics of selling grain and the food products made from it."

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (C) attends an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People Jan. 2, 2019 in Beijing, China . MarkSchiefelbein/Pool/GettyImagesNews
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, center.

China-U.S. trade deal signing expected this week

Updated Dec. 31.

President Trump is tweeting about the trade deal with China this morning.

White House advisor Peter Navarro on Tuesday said the “Phase One” trade deal between the U.S. and China is a certainty at this point, CNBC reports.

Both sides say the package includes increased purchases of American farm goods by China in exchange for some easing of US tariffs. It also includes some provisions on intellectual property and currency, but no text of the deal has been released, according to CNN.

The phase one trade deal, which was agreed to on Dec. 12, calls for Beijing to purchase $200 billion worth of U.S. products over the next two years, in addition to protecting against intellectual property theft and technology transfer, according to Fox Business. In return, the U.S. has agreed to reduce its tariffs on Chinese goods, but will still levy duties against $380 billion in goods.

The trade deal leaves Beijing's business subsidies untouched, the Washington Post reports.

The South China Morning Post reported Chinese Vice Premier Liu He was expected to sign a phase-one trade deal with the U.S. this Saturday.

Meanwhile, former deputy assistant Secretary of State Joel Rubin likens the deal to a pause, according to CNBC.

The South China Morning Post explored the U.S.-China trade war in this article.

farmer spraying pesticides on field fotokostic/iStock/Getty Images Plus

4 herbicide brands change hands

American Vanguard Corporation has acquired four herbicide brands from Corteva Agriscience.

The brands involved are Classic, First Rate, Hornet and Python. This transaction includes acquisition of end-use registrations, commercial sales and marketing information and finished goods inventory. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Acquisition of these four brands from Corteva Agriscience provides our crop protection business with a strengthened portfolio of valuable herbicides that play an important role in weed control and resistance management," said Eric Wintemute, Chairman and CEO of American Vanguard. "These brands broaden our U.S. herbicide offering in soybeans, corn, peanuts and a number of other niche crop markets.”

What are the product uses?

  • Classic is a tank-mix partner with other post-emergence herbicides. It is used to expand the weed control spectrum in soybeans and peanuts.
  • First Rate provides both pre- and post-emergence control in soybeans.
  • Hornet is used for early-to-mid season control of hard to manage glyphosate resistant weeds.
  • Python is used on post-harvest, weed elimination “burn-down” applications in corn and soybeans.
Source: American Vanguard, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 
John_Hart_Farm_Press_Charlie_Cahoon_Brent_Jackson.jpg John Hart
Dr. Charlie Cahoon, left, North Carolina Extension weed specialist for corn and cotton, discusses auxin stewardship with Oak City, N.C., consultant Brent Jackson during the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants fall conference Dec. 6 at the Homewood Suites in Raleigh

Mandatory auxin training returns to North Carolina in 2020

Mandatory training for anyone who plans to apply auxin herbicides over-the-top of auxin-tolerant cotton or soybeans in North Carolina begins in earnest Jan. 14 and runs all the way through March 26 at locations across the state.

A total of 31 mandatory 2020 Auxin Herbicides Best Management training sessions will be conducted by North Carolina State University weed scientists, in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The 2020 Auxin Herbicides-Best Management Practices fulfills the training requirement mandated by the federal and 24(c) labels for dicamba containing products registered for over-the-top use on dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans.

The training will also meet 24(c) label requirements for 2,4-D choline containing products for over-the-top use on 2,4-D-tolerant cotton and soybeans in North Carolina.

All persons planning to apply dicamba (Engenia, FeXapan, Tavium or XtendiMax) to Xtend cotton or soybeans or 2,4-D choline (Enlist Duo or Enlist One) to Enlist cotton or soybeans must complete the training.

All applicators of dicamba products must also be certified or licensed pesticide applicators.

Dr. Charlie Cahoon, North Carolina State University Extension weed specialist for cotton and corn, notes that a clear message will be emphasized at each of the training sessions this winter is that any pesticide is capable of drift and that applicators must exercise caution, particularly when applying 2,4-D or dicamba near sensitive crops or plants.

“I saw more 2,4-D damage to cotton than I wanted to see in 2019. I’d like to see zero,” Cahoon said at the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association fall conference Dec. 6 at the Homewood Suites in Raleigh.

“With our auxin training and fewer restrictions on 2,4-D, some people got complacent thinking it was safer from an off-target standpoint. In regard to sensitive plants, 2, 4-D and non-2,4-D cotton do not mix,” Cahoon said. “2, 4-D cotton and non-2, 4-D cotton are oil and water.”

Cahoon said agriculture will continue to be scrutinized for how applicators manage auxin herbicides. He said farmers can’t let their guard down on off-target movement.

In 2019, six auxin application complaints were submitted to NCDA, compared to six in 2018 and 13 in 2017. In 2019, five cases were proceeding through the regulatory process with one withdrawn.

In 2018, five settlement agreements proceeded through the regulatory process with one withdrawn.

In 2017, there were 11 settlement agreements.

In 2019, crops showing damage included three soybean complaints, one tobacco complaint and one residential tree complaint. In addition, one sale to an uncertified applicator was filed.

Cahoon noted that these are official complaints filed with NCDA. He said there are likely more reports of damage to crops that just weren’t officially filed with NCDA.

Cahoon said the majority of issues surrounding off-target damage in 2019 was due to physical drift issues. He said farmers can expect even more scrutiny on off-target movement of herbicides in 2020.

“Physical drift issues were the culprit for the majority of fields I walked this season. In some cases the herbicide moved a lot farther than I was comfortable with,’ Cahoon said.

“In one particular case, my colleague, Dr. Wes Everman, noted the average wind speed was in compliance with label requirements, but wind gusts peaked at 18 miles per hour which carried the pesticide a very long distance from a physical standpoint,” Cahoon said.

 “Wes and I plan to emphasize cases like this in the 2020 auxin training,” Cahoon said.

Cahoon noted that most of the damage is caused by “knucklehead” errors with “one person in the neighborhood spraying 2,4-D or dicamba with blatant disregard for adjacent sensitive crops.” He emphasized that the technology is here to stay, and farmers and applicators need to learn to use it better.

John HartJohn_Hart_Farm_Press_Huseth_Pegram_McKemin_Jordan.jpg

On hand for the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association fall conference in Raleigh are from left, Dr. Anders Huseth, Extension entomologist at North Carolina State University, Tom Pegram with Syngenta, Tom McKemie with Coastal Agrobusiness, and Michael Jordan with FMC.

John HartJohn_Hart_Farm_Press_Guy_Collins_Jason_Sweeney.jpg

North Carolina State University Cotton Agronomist Dr. Guy Collins, left, discusses cotton variety selection with Jason Sweeney, a research specialist with Tidewater Agronomics in Belvidere, N.C., during the fall conference of the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association.

Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

MORNING Midwest Digest, Dec. 31, 2019

As the year ends, perhaps it's time to resolve to stay in touch with people better in 2020?

Many are concerned about the mental health of farmers, and a bill has been introduced to help address that.

Airports have major construction projects going on.

Not every state in america is growing. 

John_Hart_Farm_Press_Fowler_Stewart_Gore_Kerns_Roberts.jpg John Hart
Discussing thrips and tarnished plant bug control at the Deltapine NPE (New Product Evaluator) Summit at the New Orleans Marriot Dec. 14 are from left Ty Fowler, technology development manager with Bayer, Dr. Scott Stewart with the University of Tennessee, Dr. Jeff Gore with Mississippi State University, Dr. David Kerns with Texas A&M University, and Dr. Phillip Roberts with the University of Georgia.

Thrips and plant bugs: Gifts that keep on giving

Thrips have become public enemy No. 1 for many cotton farmers with tarnished plant bugs becoming a bigger and bigger pest in many parts of the Cotton Belt.

Thrips and plant bugs are the gifts that keep on giving because insecticide resistance is becoming an issue with many growers having to make multiple applications to achieve control of both pests.

Plant bugs are popping up in places they haven’t been before, while thrips are often the biggest yield robbing pests for many cotton producers.

Cotton farmers are hoping for new tools to help battle both thrips and plant bugs. And at the Deltapine NPE (New Product Evaluator Summit) at the Marriott in New Orleans Dec. 14, Bayer revealed its new biotechnology trait, ThryvOn Technology, designed to protect cotton from both pests.

ThryvOn is the first biotechnology trait designed to provide season-long protection to the whole cotton plant against tarnished plant bugs and thrips species. Pending regulatory approval, ThryvOn is expected to be commercially available in the next few years — the early 2020s.

Scientists across the Cotton Belt have conducted research on the new biotechnology trait since 2014 and say it shows promise as a new tool to battle thrips and plant bugs.

At the NPE Summit, a panel of entomologists from the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, Mississippi State University and Texas A&M University discussed the challenges of thrips and plant bugs and how ThryvOn technology can help.

In Mississippi and across the Delta, plant bugs have become a consistent yield robbing pest over the past few years. Dr. Jeff Gore, a Mississippi State University entomologist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said Delta farmers in some cases have to spray for plant bugs up to 15 times per season with eight to nine applications very common.

“The one consistent pest we see a yield response to in our environment is the tarnished plant bug. Even missing one to two sprays in a bad year is going to mean yield loss and we’ve seen it happen,” Gore said at the NPE Summit.

In Georgia, plant bug pressure hasn’t been a problem as it has been in the Delta, but thrips are a different story. Dr. Phillip Roberts, Extension entomologist at the University of Georgia, said basically 100 percent of the state’s cotton will be infested by thrips.

He said some type of preventive action against thrips is needed and he sees the ThryvOn technology as a good potential preventative tool for thrips. He said preventive control is a must to battle thrips in Georgia.

Seed treatments have worked well, but Roberts noted farmers have seen erosion of control due to resistance. One of the ways Georgia farmers have combatted resistance is with timely foliar sprays.

“We’ve added a trip to do it right to fully preserve yield. We like to be back in at first leaf, and we have a small window to truly preserve that yield potential,” Roberts said.

In Tennessee, Dr. Scott Stewart, professor of entomology and IPM Extension specialist at the University of Tennessee, said if thrips weren’t controlled, they would likely be the No. 1 yield robbing pest year in and year out in the state.

“In our environment, it’s very common to spray at least one time foliar for thrips. Because of that and because we have consistent pressure, we’re starting to see resistance issues. We’re seeing resistance to thiamethoxam and neonicotinoids. Recent data shows orange back thrips might be developing resistance to acephate,” Roberts said.

Stewart said the ThryvOn technology will definitely save a thrips spray. He calls it “excellent technology” for controlling multiple species of thirps.

“We still have to develop some knowledge of this product as it gets released on a larger acreage. A lot of the activity of this product is repellency or avoidance. It’s very strong on tobacco thrips and definitely a factor with tarnished plant bugs. We didn’t think and nobody thought the technology killed adult tarnished plant bugs. But we received improved square retention in a lot of our plots. If we’re not killing them, they must not be feeding on them,” Stewart said.

In Texas, resistance to seed treatments means farmers are having to make more sprays to control thrips. “In most situations, with the resistance, we’re having to spray for thrips earlier than we did previously,” said Dr. David Kerns, professor and statewide IPM coordinator at Texas A&M University.

Kerns noted that the thrips spray applications don’t line up with herbicide applications which means an extra trip and additional costs to growers.

Thrips pressure does vary in different geographical regions of the Lone Star State. Kerns said certain areas constantly experience thrips pressure, while in other areas thrips don’t present a problem. He estimated that roughly 1.5 million cotton acres across Texas are treated for thrips, a significant amount.

“I think when we figured out the costs of applications across the state associated with thrips injury, it comes up to $20 million to $25 million. Thrips are a significant pest for us,” Kerns said.

As with thrips, when it comes to tarnished plant bugs in Texas, pressure varies by geography.

“There are some areas in south Texas where we get some pretty bad plant bug pressure. You move up the coast and it plays out, but you will still have them out there. And as you move west the species changes, so you go from regular tarnished plant bugs to western plant bugs, a different species, but they do the same thing,” Kerns said.

In Tennessee, plant bugs also vary by region, but Stewart noted that virtually every acre in the state gets treated for tarnished plant bugs.

“We probably average three or four applications per year. As we get closer to the Mississippi River and the Delta environment, we struggle more with tarnished plant bugs. The other thing we are struggling with, particularly in the Mid-South because we spray so much, is insecticide resistance. Things that used to work when I got to Tennessee 16 to 17 years ago don’t work near as well now. We need some new chemistries,” he said.