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Friday, June 30, 2017

Plains Pest Management News - June 30, 2017

Good Afternoon!

Below you will find a link to the latest issue of the Plains Pest Management Newsletter.

Plains Pest Management News - June 30, 2017


Thank you,

Blayne Reed

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sugarcane Aphids Getting Close



Sugarcane Aphids Getting Close

This week, Dr. Katelyn confirmed sugarcane aphids in sorghum in southern Lubbock County, making this the farthest north in Texas that the aphids have been found in 2017. Only small colonies have been found so far, but now might be a good time intensify scouting efforts in our sorghum.  To date, we have not confirmed any in Hale, Swisher or Floyd yet.  SCA do tend to increase quickly following boot stage.  As of this week, I have not noted any sorghum in Hale, Swisher, or Floyd at this stage yet, but many early planted fields are getting close.


Blayne

Friday, June 23, 2017

Plains Pest Management News - June 23, 2017

Good Morning!
 
Below you will find a link to the latest issue of the Plains Pest Management Newsletter.

Plains Pest Management News - June 23, 2017


Thank you,

Blayne Reed

Friday, June 16, 2017

Plains Pest Management News - June 16, 2017

Good Afternoon!
 
Below you will find a link to the latest issue of the Plains Pest Management Newsletter.

Plains Pest Management News - June 16, 2017


Thank you,

Blayne Reed

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Taking Cotton Stand Counts (Getting Plants per Acre) Following Hail Events



Taking Cotton Stand Counts (Getting Plants per Acre) Following Hail Events

               Taking plants per acre data, or otherwise called taking stand counts, is always important early in cotton’s growing season to producers.  The benefits are multiple but include understanding field establishment success, plant population in relation to profitability level expectation, and better managing input amounts to fit the established plant population at the very least.  The wise producer and crop consultant can make use of this information in deeper ways.  Other uses such as cotton varietal fit, fitting precision application needs to exacting acres, and precisely calculating pest populations to a per acre economic level are all based upon knowing the plant population per acre.  Stand counts are never more important that following hail or other weather events that damaged and likely killed many plants per acre like isolated acres in our area did this week.  It then becomes essential that we know precisely what the surviving plants per acre (PPA) are so that we can make an educated decision regarding the profitability of the damaged field.  In many cases, it is obvious.  Either the damage was light that our PPA was only lightly impacted, if at all.  In the other extreme it does not take an expert to see that there are just not enough surviving plants to remain a field.  Unfortunately, it is not always so cut and dry.
               It has been proven that a bare minimum of 27,000 irrigated and 13,000 dryland fairly evenly distributed plants per acre need to have healthy growth points before the field loses profit potential.  Gaps in a field that are larger than a foot can cause significant yield loss, but cotton can compensate for gaps shorter than a foot if they aren’t too repetitive.  So, to share with you how our scouting team helps producers find their establishing and / or surviving PPA stand counts, I have asked one of our summer interns, Nikolas Clarkson to explain what I expect of our field scouts when we gather this data.

            My name is Nikolas Clarkson and I am currently a student at Texas Tech. I am interning for Texas A&M AgriLife this summer with IPM Agent Blayne Reed in Hale, Swisher, and Floyd County. Last summer I worked for Mr. Reed as a field scout which gave me a wealth of experience of how to recognize issues and problems in cotton, corn, and sorghum fields in West Texas that I plan on building on this year to carry me throughout my career.
When I step into a young cotton field, an important thing to do is to take stand counts.  Producers should be able to utilize this information for the whole season.  I know we do in Blayne’s recommendations and suggestions to our producers.  Because we must get multiple stand counts from across many fields in a day, we need a method that can be managed efficiently.  Blayne likes for us to use 1/1000th of an acre and for us to get at least 5 of these counts per field.  The minimum number of these counts can go much higher than that with field size and perhaps damage level considerations.  The length of row feet that makes up this 1/1000th of an acre is determined by how wide a farmer’s rows are or their row spacings.
The very first thing you need to know to figure how much 1/1000th of an acre is in any field is the number for square feet per acre, which is 43,560.  This number helps us start calculations.  Next, you need to determine what the row width is in the field you are checking.  This could be from 30 inch rows to 40 inch rows.  Next, convert this row spacing number from inches to feet.  For example, for 40-inch rows, this is 3.3̅3 or 40 divided by 12.  Then divide 43,560 by the 3.3̅3 figure.  This gives us 13,068. This means there are 13,068 row feet in one acre of 40-inch row spacings.  Next, you divide this number by 1000 so you know the exact number of feet is in a 1/1000th of an acre.  This very large number then becomes a manageable 13.068 feet.  Therefore, there would be 13 feet 0.8 inches inches in a 1/1000th of an acre at that row spacing.
Now, you can measure each stand count with a measuring tape, or even cut rope and stakes to that length but Blayne likes us to record our toe to heel steps for all of the various row spacings our producers utilize.  In order to do this, you will need a big tape measure, and measure out 13’ 0.8” (for our 40-inch row example) on flat ground.  This may require a partner to help you.  Now, start with your heel at 0 and start stepping heel to toe right next to the tape putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the desired length. This always reminds me of taking a sobriety test. Count and record the number of your steps it takes you to get to 13’ 0.8” for 40-inch rows.  It is not likely to be an exact number of steps, so for the last bit, we say it was a ¼ step or 9/10 step or whatever, just so you know on your shoe where the exact end length is.  In the example of 40-inch rows, my steps are 13 ¼.  Now I know that I can go to a field and mark off 13 & 1/4 heel to toe steps to accurately measure a 1/1000th of an acre.
Here is a listing of 1/1000th of an acre in feet for all the common area row spacings:
40” = 13.068’
38” = 13.756’
36” = 14.52’
32” = 16.335’
30” = 17.424’
            So now that we know how to calculate a 1/1000th of an acre and have our steps for stand counts, we can go into the field an actually do it.  When getting stand counts in a field try to cover as much ground in the field as possible so that you are able to see every side of the field and account for all variables.  We are getting a minimum of 5 counts per field, but need to account for weed patches, low spots, edge effects, and slopes to make sure our ‘random’ samples actually representative of the field.  The more variables the field has, or the larger the field, or even the tougher the decision in keeping a field or plowing it up will cause us to need to get more stand counts.  Blayne always tells us, “the more data, the better data.  We just need to get enough data to find the answers we need, but we better have enough or we will be wrong.”  I don’t always like that but taking more stand counts won’t really hurt you it will just give you a more accurate number in the end.  In pivots, it might be more important to get a few more samples from the outer pivot towers as that represents more acres than inside.
When we are ready to actually get our stand counts, I look ‘randomly’ for an average, representative row to take my stand count on.  We are taught to just pick a random row and start our stand count, measure off your steps (1/1000th of an acre), mark the correct distance, and count the living plants in-between your marks.  Some rows will look better than others and it may be a natural tendency to do every stand count on the best rows or to find the problem areas and get too much data from those areas trying to understand them better.  Either of those mistakes will get you inaccurate data.  The best way to find a row to do a stand count on is just picking at random at even intervals across the field, but checking the area around that row to make sure it represents the area well.  After you have counted all the living plants between your 1/1000th of an acre stepped off marks, record them well and move on to the next ‘random’ stop for another stand count.  To calculate how many plants per acre a field has, you simply average all of your stand counts recorded for each field and multiply by 1000.   
Sometimes the tough part in getting stand counts is determining a living plant, especially following hail or bad weather.  Early on as the stands are just emerging you can usually tell which cotton seedlings are going to die from seedling disease, cool weather, or had too many problems in coming up.  These plants just cannot keep up in the heat and will wilt or sometimes will show wireworm damage or some other clue that lets you know they will not survive.  Simply do not count these plants.  They will die in a few days.  After bad weather, like hail, it is best to wait a few days before getting stand counts.  The day following the damage, all plants will look terrible and it is very easy to get bad data.  It is much better to wait a until 2 to 4 days so that you can tell if the plant is coming back with a healthy growing point or alternate growing point.  If enough plants survive without too many gaps and regrow from this early season damage, it might still regrow into a profitable field, or at least the producer would be financially better to keep the field.  If the stand for a field is too gappy or does not have enough plants per acre, they likely need to turn the field into insurance and possibly see about replanting, possibly to another crop.

Thanks Nik!
Blayne   

Friday, June 9, 2017

Plains Pest Management News - June 9, 2017


Good Afternoon!
 
Below you will find a link to the latest issue of the Plains Pest Management Newsletter.

Plains Pest Management News - June 9, 2017

Thank you,

Blayne Reed

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Scouting for Thrips in Cotton



Scouting for Thrips in Cotton

               This past week I have received quite a few questions about scouting for thrips in cotton.  The questions have not revolved around so much ‘how’ to scout for thrips as most have already watched our how to scout for thrips in cotton video.  If you have not and would like to do so, the link is here:
               These questions have dealt more with, “How many plants do I check per field for thrips?”  Mostly this is an open-ended question most entomologist in extension do not usually answer directly.  If we do, we must give the answer that guarantees the scout will absolutely know exactly what the pest population in the field is and be able to scientifically defend their findings to a publication review board.  For those that have looked at our new thrips guide you have found this type of answer there: “Randomly select 25 plants from 4 regions of the field and closely go through the plants looking for adult and immature thrips.
If you have not given the new thrips guide a once over, I encourage you to do so now at: http://lubbock.tamu.edu/files/2017/05/Thrips_ENTO-069.pdf.  There are a lot of helpful tips to be found there.
Meanwhile, for those of us scouting lots and lots of fields, that level of pest population precision is not always needed.  Rest assured that for all our research plots and other cases where that level of precision is needed, we are getting it and more.  But for day to day field scouting, I find it to be overkill and too time consuming to practically cover all the acres we must on a weekly basis.  We just need to know if this pest is over economic threshold and at what level are the beneficials helping us out.  So, we need a decision now, based on solid scouting but derived as quickly as possible about whether to spray or not. 
To help fill you in on how our scouting program generates these answers, I have asked our 2017 Plains Pest Management Intern, Trey Buxton, to fill you in on what data I expect of him when he scouts a typical cotton field in Hale, Swisher, & Floyd County.  Trey made a picture perfect scouting in a 30-acre drip field trip last week that gave us great data.  Here is what that path looked like as tracked by his GPS active Strider Tablet:



































Here is Trey in his own words:


My name Is Trey Buxton and I am a summer intern under IPM Agent Blayne Reed out of Hale, Swisher, and Floyd county. I started working for the Plains Pest Management Association in the summer of 2016 as just a summer job and I had no idea what I was doing at first. After working under Blayne for a full summer I feel pretty good about knowing what it takes to scout cotton, corn, and sorghum fields in West Texas and get good data.
When scouting cotton fields early in the growing season the first thing that I do is walk good distance into the field to avoid edge issues, say 50 to 100 steps or so.  These edge areas can catch drift from a neighboring farmer and always have an edge effect with pest, disease and weed populations that do not represent the full field.  When I get to an area that I think is consistent to the rest of the field I start gathering data.  We call each stop we make a data set.  Each data set consists of a stand count (how we calculate plants per acre), record the plant stage in the vicinity, record any weed populations, and conduct 2 whole plant inspections where all thrips, any plant disease, and beneficial populations are recorded. After I have finished recording all my data I start walking to my next data set. You want to make sure that you space your data sets out across the field so you can cover more portions of the field and know what problems you have in those spots of the fields.
Blayne tells me the question is how many plants do we need to get in each field.  Blayne always points to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension guide.  It says, “Randomly select 25 plants from 4 regions of the field and closely go through the plants looking for adult and immature thrips.” This would be very accurate.  Blayne coaches us that, “More data is always better, but not every field is a research plot.  In day to day scouting, we do not have that much time.”  So, I was trained to scout for thrips on 2 randomly selected plants at each data set and to get them from at least 5 regions of the field. So, in most fields, I am only inspecting 10 total plants throughout the field versus inspection 100 like the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Handbook says to.  This should not be more accurate than what the handbook says, it just helps to get in and out of fields quicker and allows us to get the minimum amount of data that we need for a field.  In many fields, there is a need to get more data.  Larger fields are a good example.  On really big fields I can easily get 10 data sets.  Another example of needing to get more data in the field would be when thrips populations are very close to averaging around 1 thrips per true leaf stage or when we start seeing thrips larva in the field.  In either of these cases, more data is required to give the producer the best data to help them make tough decisions about spending more money on additional spray. 
I would also like to say that when you are scouting for thrips, you must do a really good job of scouting your 2 plants per data set.  If your data is no good, it does not matter how many plants you check, you have no idea what is happening in that field.  Thrips like to hide on the bottom of the Cotyledon leaves and attach to the veins on the leaves and suck the plant juices out of the leaves. They also like to crawl down into the growing point terminal of the cotton plants and feed down in there which can really turn into a problem because they will damage the terminal and stunt the plants growth. So, whenever I get down check for thrips I make sure that I look the plant over real good and open up the unfurled leaves with my pen or knife. Thrips are really little tan colored insects that have the shape of a grain of rice but they are way smaller.  So, when you are searching for thrips it can be easy to mistake some dirt of a piece of plant that is stuck to the bottom of the cotton leaves for a thrips. To make sure that I don’t get confused I get my pocket knife out and I will poke what I think is a thrips, and if it’s a thrips it will start to crawl around on the leaf.
In the picture shown reveals the path that I took through the field in Swisher County.  My boss, Blayne Reed, considers this a perfect path through a field.  It is considered perfect because I covered enough ground to make sure the data was representative and I didn’t take too long in the field.  In this field, all 5 of my data sets were consistent in weed control, thrips control, and stand count numbers.  Because of the consistency of the thrips, weeds, stand counts, and lack of disease pressure or other issues, the minimum amount of data required from this size field was all that was required and I could move quickly on to my next field to check.

Thanks Trey!
Blayne