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Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 28 Progressive Growers Breakfast

Progressive Grower’s Breakfast July 28, 2015
Jeff’s Restaurant, Kress

                It is no secret that in our Hale, Swisher, and & Floyd area crops there is quite a bit happening on multiple fronts.  From corn disease issues, to sugarcane aphid outbreaks, on to cotton plant growth regulator needs, all the way through to multiple pests, we seem to have it all occurring on some level or another.  With so much going on in the field, it seems to be a good time to put heads together for some answers.  So please come join us over coffee and breakfast and bring the questions you have from your farm.
                The Progressive Growers Breakfasts are open to all producers and usually runs about an hour but we generally stay until all questions are answered and work drags us away.  This group is driven by producers and tries to meet monthly to bi-weekly need depending.  Blayne typically leads off the discussion with a quick ‘bug report,’ which usually highlights what he and other professionals are seeing in production fields in terms of insect, weed, and disease issues.  Often John Villalba, CEA Swisher, makes regular appearances and we could see Jason Miller, CEA-Hale, or Christen Brooks, CEA-Floyd, with reports also.  If possible or practical, district researchers and specialists might even make themselves available for these breakfasts.
                To get on the ‘regular’ Progressive Grower’s Breakfast announcement text please call the Hale County office at 806-291-5267 or the Swisher office at 806-995-3721 and we will get you in contact with Mike Goss, Swisher County Producer, and primary host of the breakfasts. 

2015 Corn Disease Risk

2015 Corn Disease Risk

                Our above average rainfall this season has obliged most of our grain crops.  Although many of our Hale & Swisher fields are later than we would prefer, irrigation systems have remained quiet for the most part.  This has saved untold millions of gallons of irrigation water while maintaining a solid yield potential.  These wetter than ‘normal’ conditions also come with a down side, particularly in corn.  Corn ‘diseases’ in our area are running high.  This stands to reason as most of these diseases are fungal related and require moisture and humidity to spread and certainly for the spores to germinate.  Continually keep driblets of water present on the leaves and the diseases thrive.   
                On that ‘usual’ year, the only disease we can count on seeing in our area corn year in and year out is Common Rust.  This pathogen is not usually economic for us but can become economic in the right conditions.  With the additional rains, morning dews, and higher humidity, the conditions have certainly been right for Rust this season.  For most of our Plains Pest Management scouting program corn acres, I am estimating a 2 – 3 fold increase in common rust as of this week.  That is not the only pathogen we are finding in field, and certainly not all we are getting reports of. 
                We are also identifying Southern Rust, Northern Corn Leaf Blight, Grey Leaf Spot, and a handful of other ‘blights’ to lessening degrees.  Several of these lesser blights have flared on a few spots or in some cases for just a few days and ceased when conditions dropped back below ‘ridiculously wet’  with little impact made other than the knee nocking turmoil of potential trouble brewing in the field.  The Southern Rust and Northern Corn Leaf Blight look to have more staying power this season with the conditions we have, and potential to become economic if they have not already.  In our older or more developed program corn fields the impact of all of these diseases has been minimal so far, but these fields have all been treated with fungicides in a preventative manor recently before any real harsh problems developed.   This is not the case for all area fields.
                Last week we were getting reports from across Hale, Floyd, and farther south that Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB) looked to be hitting post tassel corn pretty hard with long term affects to be felt in yield and harvestabality later.  Emergency treatment applications were soon abound for those scouting closely enough to catch and identify the problem in time.  The NCLB now seems to have slowed this week with ‘the line in the sand drawn’ through good scouting and slightly dryer conditions predominating the area. 
                Still a growing concern today is Southern Rust.  Clay Golden, independent crop consultant based in Floyd County, spoke with me recently about what he is seeing in Floyd County, “We have quite a few fields that we treated with fungicide two weeks ago and quite a bit for NCLB last week.  There are a few fields treated two weeks ago that are now in the dough stage.  We have Southern Rust rebuilding now (that residual from our treatment is running out).  We really don’t want to, but we might be forced into making a second application in a few spots if the trend continues.”
                I also spoke with Dr. Jason Woodward, extension plant pathologist district 2, this week about the increase in corn disease pressure this season.  Dr. Woodward explained, “The wetter weather has increased the corn disease pressure throughout the region and there has been a lot of fungicide go out to combat them.  Much of the older corn in the Lubbock area has reached dent stage and I feel pretty confident stating that those fields should be on the downhill side of the rust and blight risks.  Even if those post dent fields have an increase in disease it might not be an economic situation as that field starts to dry down, especially if they have already been treated.  On the other hand, the whole region has quite a bit of late corn that hasn’t even tasseled yet.  Those fields are going to be a major concern for disease issues as we move forward if the moist weather persists.  As the days start growing shorter, the nights cooler, and morning dew becomes common, in conjunction with a continued wet weather pattern, and we could see some major issues with several of these corn diseases over the next few weeks and months on those younger corn fields as they progress through key and later reproductive growth stages… Now that many of these diseases are present in the region at a noticeable level, I might even expect to see even higher disease problems in pivots compared to say drip fields where we will be making applications of water to the plant even if the much appreciated rain patterns slow.”
                This situation described by Dr. Woodward certainly holds true for the late corn fields in our scouting program corn acres and looks valid throughout Hale, Swisher, & Floyd with greater than normal late corn acres due to be hitting those key reproductive stages soon.  We really do not want to chase away any future rainfall that we know we will need but we should be aware of the potential problems that could arise with the blessings of a good rainfall pattern. 

Please call or come by if you have any questions,

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sugarcane aphid arrives in Floyd and Hockley

By Dr. Pat Porter

Blayne Reed, Extension Agent - IPM for Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties, found several small to moderate sized colonies in a sorghum field 5 miles north of Lockney on July 21st. These aphids were below treatable levels and there were abundant yellow sugarcane aphids (a different aphid species) and spider mites in the field as well.

Kerry Siders, Extension Agent - IPM for Hockley, Cochran and Lamb counties, found sugarcane aphids in a sorghum field 5 miles west of Ropesville today, July 21st. The aphids were below economic threshold.

Sugarcane Aphid Workshops Pending in Hockley, Cochran and Lamb counties:

Wednesday, July 22, 9:00am, Wilbur Ellis-Levelland
Thursday, July 23, 8:30am, Platinum Bank Levelland (sponsored by Farmers Coop Elevator, Levelland)
Friday, July 24, 9:00am, CHS-Anton
Monday, July 27, 9:00am, AG Products, Levelland
Tuesday, July 28, 8:00am, CHS-Ropesville
Wednesday, July 29, 9:00am, Olton Ag Pavillion
Thursday, July 30, 9:00am, Farmers Coop – Sudan
Monday, August 3, 8:30am, Lamb County Ag Center, Littlefield
Tuesday, August 4, 7:15am, Wilbur Ellis – Earth
Thursday, August 6, 8:30am, Lewis Farm & Ranch, Morton
Monday, August 10, 8:30am, Extension Office – Cochran Co. Activity Room, Morton

Contact Kerry Siders at 806-638-5635 for more information about these meetings.

Thanks Pat!

     Thanks to Gary Bursen for is work in Floyd helping confirm the aphids there.  Folks in the Hale, Swisher, & Floyd area are welcome to attend the meetings Kerry is putting together.  Here in Hale, Swisher, & Floyd we will be having a Progressive Grower’s Breakfast soon where we can sit down over coffee and discuss aphids, corn diseases, cotton PGRs and other issues important to you.  Watch for the announcement here soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sugarcane aphid management and whorl stage sorghum on the Southern High Plains

Sugarcane aphid management and whorl stage sorghum on the Southern High Plains

Tommy Doederlein, Pat Porter, Blayne Reed and Kerry Siders

Sugarcane aphid arrived early in south Texas this year but its northward expansion was apparently slowed by the record rainfall. However, in the last two weeks it has made a rapid advance and was found in Lubbock County on June 29th.  This is two months earlier than the August 27th, 2014 first detection by Blayne Reed in Floyd County. Last year’s late arrival allowed us to avoid making insecticide applications. While it is still too early to guess how severe the problem might be this year, we would like to provide some information on management practices prior to boot stage.

When on whorl stage sorghum, economic populations of sugarcane aphids can result in near total yield loss because it destroys leaf cells that provide nutrition to keep the plant growing, exert the panicle and fill the grain. The worst case is a heavy sugarcane aphid infestation on whorl stage plants. Later infestations on headed sorghum are somewhat less of a problem and may only result in minor yield losses and harvest difficulties due to honeydew accumulation.

Early detection is the key to successful sugarcane aphid management. All fields should be scouted weekly from shortly after emergence until one week before harvest. If sugarcane aphids are not found in a field then the weekly scouting should continue. If light populations of sugarcane aphids are found then the scouting should occur twice per week. The doubling of the scouting interval is because of the rapid reproduction of the aphid. As Angus Catchot, Entomologist at Mississippi State University, put it, “This is the first pest I have seen that can go from ‘barely there’ to ‘Oh my God’ in five days.

Sugarcane aphids are easy to differentiate from the other aphid pests of sorghum and there is a recognition guide posted here: .

The treatment threshold is an average of 50 – 125 aphids per leaf on whorl stage plants. Research in Texas has shown that an average of 250 aphids per leaf is around the break point where yield declines equal the cost of control, but this many aphids can cause a honeydew and sooty mold problem. The goal is to apply the insecticide soon enough to keep the aphid numbers below 250 per leaf. Quick action is needed when fields reach the economic threshold, so don’t delay in pulling the trigger. The treatment threshold is the same for susceptible sorghum and the “resistant” or “tolerant” sorghum hybrids; once threshold is reached then insecticides should be applied as soon as possible. Blayne Reed, Extension Agent in Hale, Swisher and Floyd counties, with support from all our regional IPM specialists, is leading our 2015 research on how the “resistant” hybrids withstand sugarcane aphid. It is far too early to say anything other than, from a management perspective in 2015, expect resistant hybrids to perform in line with susceptible hybrids. The so-called resistant hybrids should be scouted like susceptible hybrids and sprayed like susceptible hybrids with the yet field unproven hope there will be fewer aphids or better performance from the “resistant” lines.

There are two good insecticides available; Sivanto and Transform. Expect each product to provide around 10 days of control. Be sure to visit the field 3 – 4 days after the application to make sure the insecticide is working. If a follow-up application is needed after 10 days then rotate to the other insecticide. Insecticide rotation is critical for resistance management; aphids are extremely dangerous as far as resistance because they are genetic clones (no sexual reproduction and mixing of resistance and susceptibility alleles). If the mother has resistance alleles then the offspring will have the same resistance alleles; if the mother survives the dose then the progeny will survive the dose, and so will all of their progeny and their progeny across generations and growing seasons. The only way to kill these resistant insects is with the other insecticide. Insecticide rotation is the key to preventing resistance, and aphids are exceptionally adept at becoming resistant.

It is important to preserve beneficial insects – they won’t prevent sugarcane aphid from reaching threshold on the High Plains (yet), but they will slow the aphid down. There is evidence from the Gulf Coast that, after three seasons of the aphid and the beneficial insects coexisting, the beneficial insects are starting the season in high enough numbers to exert a significant amount of control on the aphids. This is not the case in the High Plains; our beneficial insects have not had the chance to arm up against the aphids and we don’t have enough of them to keep aphid populations under control. But we do have enough of them to slow the aphids down and perhaps avoid an additional insecticide spray later in the season. The best way to help the beneficials is to avoid pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticide applications; use Sivanto or Transform and let the beneficials live.  We have a new publication called Insecticide Selection for Sorghum at Risk to Sugarcane Aphid Infestations, 2015. ( ). This publication discusses insecticide choice for sugarcane aphid control and insecticides to use on other pests in fields that have sugarcane aphids in them. Other sugarcane aphid resources available at We have established a statewide sugarcane aphid news website at

We don’t know what to expect in 2015 as far as sugarcane aphid. All we know for sure is that it has arrived two months earlier than last year and is now threatening whorl stage plants. We encourage weekly field scouting until the aphids are found and then twice-weekly scouting thereafter. Apply insecticides when there are 50 – 125 aphids per leaf and use either Transform or Sivanto. Check to make sure the insecticide worked and, if an additional application is needed later, be sure to rotate insecticides in order to prevent resistance. 

The sky is not falling folks!  These aphids can be managed.