I told growers after we lost Temik that we would probably start seeing pest problems occur that we hadn't seen for years. Sure enough, it started happening. Everybody got so used to aldicarb, they didn't realize how much protection they were getting from the product.
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As the 2021 planting season approaches, it’s customary to look back and contemplate what happened last season and the many, many decades of seasons that preceded even last year. Nothing could be more critical than early season pest control, and it starts with nematodes and thrips. The roadmap to harvest begins at planting.
“Like everyone else, we’ve been presenting our 2020 early season pest data for several months now,” says Dr. Scott Graham, Auburn University Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Entomology and Plant Pathology.
“We had a mixed bag of weather across Alabama last season,” he says. “Even so, there were some trials that stood out as we look back.”
“One of our most notable cotton trials in 2020 was at the Prattville Agricultural Research Unit,” Graham says. “The data regarding thrips control was attention grabbing to say the least.”
From early season stand counts, vigor ratings, thrips injury ratings, white bloom counts to ultimate yield, AgLogic aldicarb at 3.5 lbs. per acre lead the entire field of contenders – numerically superior in all measurements, according to Graham.
“That included everything from seed treatments to in-furrow granular and liquid applications and post-emergence treatments,” Graham says. “Looking even further back into the history of aldicarb, that’s not an uncommon result.”
As a newly minted State Extension Specialist at Auburn (start date: April 2020), Graham would have to look back further than his birth date to pull up that information. Conveniently, his long-time predecessor Dr. Ron Smith (retd. Visiting Professor, Auburn University) knows the story well.
“We’ve been looking at aldicarb for more than 40 years,” Smith says. “In some regard, it’s a rare product in that it’s held up for so long with the same consistent results. I’m not the least bit surprised Scott saw the same thing last season.”
Smith had one other comment about the 2020 trials and Graham’s role in reporting University research for growers’ benefit: “We were lucky to get him,” he says. “Auburn has a long history of working for growers, and he hit the ground running his first year even despite the challenges of COVID and getting acquainted with growers across the state.”
Further to the east, it’s essentially the same story. Tobacco thrips is a frequent pest of seedling cotton that can reduce lint yield up to 50 percent, according to Dr. Jeremy Greene, Extension and research entomologist and professor at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center (REC). Early planted cotton can be particularly susceptible to thrips damage unless an in-furrow granular or liquid spray is used to mitigate the risk, according to Greene.
By mid-May last season, Greene reported that many at-plant treatments were providing protection, but some weren’t performing at an optimal level. “The plots treated with aldicarb looked the best at early season,” he said.
Aldicarb has been included in Greene’s trials for many years. The product is a constant comparison to multiple early season treatments for thrips control including granular and liquid in-furrow, at-planting options, seed treatments and early foliar treatments.
“Aldicarb always catches your attention,” he says. “It usually leads or is in the top echelon when it comes to thrips control.”
Another factor is earliness. “That one is a little more difficult to quantify except for measurements such as white bloom counts,” Greene says. “But it’s observable and true that the earlier you can establish a canopy, the less problem a grower will have with other agronomic factors such as weeds, and there is a lot to be said for early maturity.”
There are numerous species of nematodes that affect cotton across the Belt. Root-knot (sandier soils) and reniform (heavier clay-type soils) are usually the prime suspects.
AgLogic aldicarb (formerly Temik) has been a contender in research trials for as long as Dr. Kathy Lawrence, Professor of Entomology and Plant Pathology, has been conducting nematode research at Auburn University.
Lawrence routinely evaluates nematicides that include seed treatments (ST), in-furrow (IF) granular and spray products, and pre-harvest sprays (PHS).
In 2020, Lawrence reported the results of a root-knot nematode infested field conducted in central Alabama at the Plant Breeding Unit of Auburn University’s E.V. Smith Research Station Center, Tallahassee, AL. Root-knot pressure was heavy last season at that location, according to Lawrence.
In part, she summarized: “In a comparison of label supported rates the products with highest yields and gross value over the check were recorded with AgLogic 5 lb/A IF ($288 per acre), and Velum Total 14 oz/A IF + Vydate C-LV 17 oz/A PHS ($224 per acre).”
At a reniform nematode infested trial at Auburn’s Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center near Belle Mina, AL, Lawrence reported the following among evaluated treatments for the 2020 trial:
“AgLogic 5 lb/A ranked first and increased yield by 810 lb/A which at 40% lint and $0.70 cotton would be an additional $228 per acre gross value.”
AgLogic provided the highest numerical yield across the treatments at 3001 pounds of seed cotton per acre.
Although every growing season is different, history often does repeat itself or at least serves as a statistical reference over time, defining the best odds of success.
Whether it’s a fresh new set of eyes or years of experience, University cotton researchers in the Southeast, as well as across the Cotton Belt, continue to provide valuable insight to chart the path forward.
As the 2020 crop fades into the books, growers are preparing for what’s next. For peanuts, that means looking forward with an eye on the past.
“We put our peanut planter in the shop the second week of February and started our regular pre-plant cleaning and maintenance program — lube, chains, plates, etc. — to get ready for planting,” says Hugh Dollar, partner and manager of Dollar Family Farms in Bainbridge, Georgia. “We start corn in late February so I can pick after July 4. That’s early, but I like to try to take advantage of the basis.
“We anticipate planting peanuts around April 5. Of course, that depends on soil temperatures. I won’t put any cotton seed in the ground before May 10 to help dodge storms.”
Last year, growers lost track of hurricane names. Dollar is hoping the region will catch a break in 2021.
“Obviously, you can’t do anything about the weather, but we’re cautiously encouraged by commodity prices. If they keep inching up, I think this could be a break-out year for a lot of growers. Everyone needs it. In general, growers in this area haven’t had a good year since about 2016.”
Aside from weather and price, pest management is the next variable in the mix. “We can’t completely control pest pressure, but we can manage it to a certain extent.”
Southwest Georgia is noted for sandy soils that harbor nematodes. “We have root-knot, sting, lesion and others,” Dollar says. “Root-knot is our primary problem due to our sandier soils in a lot of places. No matter what you do, they’re always there.”
Even though a substantial portion of the ground at Dollar Farms consists of sandier soil types, it’s not consistent.
“We have a range of soil types including sand, clay, heavy organic, you name it. We grow peanuts on all those soil types.”
Dollar uses rotation to help curb nematode populations, but it’s not a complete solution. “You might suppress one species for a season, but it will bounce back with another crop. We also include corn in that rotation, and in recent years, we’ve included bahiagrass.”
Nematicides are a critical input regardless of rotation. In years past, the Dollars used Telone for nematode control.
“It’s just not economically feasible anymore,” Dollar says. “Not only that, it’s a headache to deal with. You can run your employees ragged trying to manage it. When aldicarb came back on the market, we jumped at the chance to switch to back to it.”
Dollar uses AgLogic aldicarb on both his peanuts and cotton. He applies 7 pounds per acre on peanuts and 3 pounds per acre on cotton.
While there are inexpensive options available to control thrips, the use of AgLogic aldicarb to control nematodes also picks up that pest, largely negating the need to use foliar applications.
“I would say nematodes are our most worrisome pest, but you have to keep an eye on thrips. They can be destructive, even well into the season. With AgLogic under the crop, we don’t have to worry about it very much. And it’s always a plus if you can keep from running a spray rig through the field.”
Whether it’s peanuts or cotton, Dollar says compacting the growing season is a key advantage in southeast Georgia.
“The faster you can get a crop out of the field, the better. AgLogic helps us do that. It produces an earlier, healthier plant with a strong root system that is more robust.
“All of those factors help fight off nematodes and thrips and helps get that plant to the finish line a lot faster than what we typically see with other options,” he says.
With one eye on the weather, another eye on the markets and perhaps a theoretical third eye on past lessons learned, Dollar is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Setting up a successful cotton crop is much like setting up a slinky at the top of the stairs. If it doesn’t get off to a good start, the slinky will start to stumble and waiver halfway through its course with a somewhat disappointing result.
The same could be said about a cotton crop. Early season decisions are absolutely critical to reach a successful harvest.
Aside from variety selection, early season pest control is the foundation for forward positive motion as the seed germinates and the seedling pokes through the soil to begin its journey. Before the seedling even gets to the point of sunlight, it encounters incredible obstacles such as nematodes and seedling disease.
Nematodes are perhaps the most insidious threat. While there are several species that impact cotton across the Cotton Belt, the two most detrimental are reniform and root-knot.
“In Mississippi, although both species are present, we tend to have more issues with reniform than root-knot because they are found on more acres,” says Dr. Angus Catchot, Extension Professor with Mississippi State University. “Both can be extremely yield limiting when numbers are high.”
Unless growers sample fields for nematodes on a regular basis, it’s difficult to detect and quantify. Often, the presence of reniform manifests itself in a slow decline of crop vigor which ultimately can lead to yield loss. Often these problems gradually get worse over a period of years if control strategies are not implemented.
Varietal selection is one option.
“In Mississippi, most of our varieties with nematode resistance are tied to root-knot nematode,” Catchot says. “However, there are a lot of efforts from seed companies to find and commercialize varieties with reniform resistance. Even if you have a nematode resistant variety, it may not be enough protection under severe populations.”
Nematicide seed treatments are another possibility, but have limited efficacy, especially under heavy nematode pressure.
Yet another option is soil applied fumigants. “Realistically, fumigation is just not typically economically feasible when you’re talking about cotton,” Catchot says. “In-furrow, at-plant treatments for nematodes just make more sense from an economic standpoint in a lot of situations.”
One of those in-furrow, at-plant options is AgLogic aldicarb pesticide. Aldicarb first hit the agricultural pest protection market more than 40 years ago under the brand name “Temik”.
Today, marketed as “AgLogic”, the product is the same formulation, same expectations, and the same consistent results trial after trial as we saw years ago.
“AgLogic is always a top performer in our University and cooperator field trials,” Catchot says. “It still looks as good as it ever did. It’s the same story now as it was years ago. The cotton gets off to a better start, and we don’t have to work as hard to control the pest problems that come later.”
What inevitably comes soon after a cotton seedling’s emergence are thrips.
“You can almost always count on some sort of problem with thrips once the seedling emerges,” Catchot says. “You never really know how bad it’s going to be, but you know you better watch out for it.”
When Temik aldicarb was absent from the market for several years, growers were forced to rely exclusively on seed treatments and/or foliar insecticides after emergence, according to Catchot. “It didn’t take long for resistance to set in, and seed treatments and foliars became progressively less effective due to resistance to the neonicotinoids and other products.
“AgLogic aldicarb has been a welcome addition back into our nematode and thrips management program,” Catchot says. “Not only does it reduce nematode pressure, it also reduces the thrips population and takes pressure off the need to use foliars after emergence.”
After the perils of pre-emergence and early season pest pressure, secondary pests typically emerge as the next threat to cotton yield. Spider mites and aphids are common pests that can actually become worse after broad spectrum foliar sprays eliminate beneficial insects. Flaring these pests can actually lead to even further sprays.
“By reducing the need for foliar sprays, the threat of flaring spider mites and aphids is reduced when a grower uses AgLogic aldicarb. In fact, aldicarb has activity on both of these pests.” Catchot says. “Getting a good start out of the ground leads to a healthier plant and it’s very reasonable to assume a healthier plant is more capable of fighting off secondary pest threats as the crop progresses.”
Getting a good start coming out of the ground sets the stage for the whole season and have been proven time and time again as a precursor to stronger yield potential.
“I would say AgLogic aldicarb is somewhat of a niche market in the Mid-South right now,” Catchot says. “But the growers who use it know how it pencils out – especially when they run that picker through the field at the end of the season.”
It’s the “slinky effect”. Strong, well-planned, early season steps to a promising finish. When you were a kid, it made you jump up and down. Now it makes you smile on the way to the bank.
Originally Published in February Issue of Delta Farm Press
Last season wasn’t exactly the worst of times, but it could have been better. Weather across vast regions of the Southeast weren’t exactly perfect in 2020. It would be hard pressed to find a grower that ever thinks weather conditions are perfect in any given year.
“It’s always different,” says Justin Williams, a grower in Grantham, NC. “The best we can do is try to give ourselves every chance we can to make a good crop.”
That means a mix of crops and good rotations. Williams has started incorporating cotton into his crop rotation. “We primarily grow tobacco, but cotton has a good fit,” he says. “One of the problems we always deal with are nematodes. By rotating crops and being able to use AgLogic aldicarb on cotton, we can knock that population down.”
“I use AgLogic at-planting on my cotton,” Williams says. “I remember my dad using it years ago. It was briefly off the market, but I’m using it again because I know how it can protect a cotton crop. Our primary problem is root-knot nematode – especially the guava species.”
The guava root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne enterolobii) is generally considered to be one of the most world-wide damaging of nematodes to a wide variety of crops including cotton, tomatoes, soybeans, peppers and sweet potatoes. It can also cause significant damage to cotton varieties that only have a built-in resistance to Southern root-knot nematode (M. incognita).
“Root-knot has become more of an issue as certain crops susceptible to that particular pest have increased in acreage across this area,” Williams says. “We also tend to have sandier soils which makes root-knot more difficult to manage.”
Williams applies 5 lbs. per acre of AgLogic aldicarb on cotton when he plants cotton behind cotton. In other rotational scenarios, he applies 3 lbs. of AgLogic per acre.
“Thrips are definitely a factor in cotton,” he says. “You can throw something out there after the fact, but if you don’t have that seedling protected from the very beginning, you’re already fighting a tough battle. Factor in nematodes before that, and it gets worse.”
There is a lot to be said about earliness, no matter how far south a grower stomps around in a cotton field looking for answers.
“We want to get our cotton out of the field and to the gin as early as possible,” Williams says. “We’re in North Carolina. We have plenty of heat units with our current varieties. I mostly plant Phytogen varieties. But I can tell you the fewer obstacles to deal with as the season progresses, the better.”
In addition to pest control, Williams says earliness is a factor in weed management. “You can see it to the row,” he says. “When you use AgLogic aldicarb, the plants are healthier and more vigorous early on and shade out the weeds, so there is less of a problem with that issue.”
Early squaring and boll set is also a plus, according to Williams. “You really want to set those bottom bolls, but being able to factor those upper bolls into the yield picture is worth their weight because we didn’t have to wait.”
Originally Published in February Issue of Southeast Farm Press
Kansas doesn’t typically come to mind when most people in the industry talk about cotton, but that has been changing over the past few years. In 1995, there was a mere 3,200 acres of cotton in the state. By 2019, the acreage had increased to 175,000 acres.
“I originally decided to grow cotton because of the potential for a greater return on investment,” says Brian Bretz, a grower in Moundridge, Kansas, approximately 40 miles north of Wichita.
Bretz has a diversified farming operation that includes corn, alfalfa, soybeans and wheat. Last season was his third year to grow cotton. His company — Blazefork Farms — now contributes 1,200-1,500 cotton acres to Kansas’ overall planted acreage.
As cotton growers across the Belt might imagine, variety selection on the north reaches of the Cotton Belt is critical.
“In 2020, we planted PhytoGen 210 W3FE and NexGen varieties,” Bretz says. “Basically, we choose varieties that have traits similar to what they plant in Lubbock, Texas. This far north, earliness is obviously an important consideration when it comes to cotton.
“Variety selection is not the only important factor we consider in our cotton program. We also look at factors such as pesticides and how we can get the crop off to a good start. Earliness means a lot when you have limited heat units in the growing season.”
Nematodes and thrips are two key pests Bretz faces in cotton. “Most of our pest issues are early season problems,” he says. “Thrips are definitely a problem, especially when the wheat dries up. They start migrating to greener options.”
The neighbor who suggested Bretz give cotton a try three years earlier also recommended he use AgLogic aldicarb for early season pest control. “I think because we used aldicarb, we didn’t have a significant problem with thrips. The only regret I have is that I didn’t have a test strip to evaluate exactly how it helped us with early season pests.”
Bretz applied AgLogic aldicarb at 6 pounds per acre on 30-inch rows. A variable often difficult to determine outside a replicated trial setting is the effect of yield-robbing nematodes.
“I know my fields have nematodes,” Bretz says. “Even though we rotate with other crops, I believe that’s another advantage that AgLogic aldicarb provides.”
Seed treatments versus after-planting in-furrow applications are always a consideration, Bretz says. “In 2020, I purchased seed with the extra treatments. For the coming season, I plan to purchase seed with only the basic seed treatment at about $3-$5 (per acre). That will save me about $20 (per acre) to go toward aldicarb. I think it gives me a better range of pest protection and the earliness factor that is so critical in this area.”
On February 1st 2021, AgLogic™ Chemical Company LLC appointed Lee S. Hall as Vice President of Business Development. In this role, Lee will be responsible for the development of new business opportunities and the marketing, sales and stewardship of AgLogic™ 15 GG aldicarb insecticide.
Hall joins the company after nearly 36 years with Bayer CropScience and legacy companies, most recently as Industry Relations Lead. Lee brings a broad range of experiences in strategic marketing, product development and R&D with a long history of managing insecticide and nematicide portfolios including aldicarb.
Lee holds a B.S. in Biology from Greensboro College and a M.S. in Entomology from North Carolina State University.
Lee and his family will reside in Cary, NC. Lee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This season’s crop results are right around the corner - in some cases - but growers are already eying their strategy for the 2021 growing season. Some of them already have a preliminary attack plan in their head, if not yet entirely on an Excel spreadsheet as they await 2020 results.
“Mother Nature dealt us a fairly significant setback early this season,” says Lyle Carraway, a Lynchburg, SC grower. “I got so much rain right after planting, that it drowned out a lot of the stand. As a result, it was skippy and somewhat difficult all season long. But that’s okay. I’ve seen worse.”
Carraway is strictly a dryland farmer, so uncertainty is one of the most predictable components of his strategy. “It’s very simple,” he says. Some things you can control; some you can’t.”
Honing in on Management
In terms of things he can control, Carraway focuses on three inputs:
He planted Deltapine 1646 B2XF in 2020. Even though the season got off to a rocky start due to excess rain, the variety seems to have performed reasonably well, according to Carraway.
“You can’t do anything about the weather, except maybe time your planting,” he says. “After that, it’s early season pest pressure you have to watch. I don’t use insecticide treated seed. It has been losing effectiveness for years now,” he says. “Other than a fungicide base treatment, I don’t waste my money on seed treatments anymore.”
For several years now, Carraway has gone back to an old familiar nematode and thrips control product that he feels has served him well over the years. “I used to use Temik,” he says. “When it went off the market, I tried all sorts of different options for early season insect control,” he says. “The seed treatment just didn’t work very well, and it became less effective year after year.”
When Temik aldicarb was replaced with AgLogic™ aldicarb after a five-year hiatus from the market, Carraway seized on the opportunity in 2019 and again this season. His consultant agrees.
“Temik aldicarb pesticide was successfully marketed for more than 40 years,” says Jerry Adams, JLA Consulting Service, LLC in Bishopville, SC. “Over that time, we never saw anything that gave us the early season insect control with the consistency of aldicarb. AgLogic™ aldicarb is the same active ingredient with the same consistent performance.
By the Numbers
“Our only problem is we keep referring to it as Temik out of force of habit,” Adams says. “I’m sure the AgLogic™ name will start rolling out our mouths more easily as growers are reminded what this product meant to them. We also have a new generation of growers who are starting to discover it.”
Carraway applied AgLogic™ aldicarb at 5 lbs. per acre to his cotton in 2019 and again in 2020. “Compared to what I had been seeing for a few years without it, I was very pleased,” he says. “You just can’t beat it considering the pests we are dealing with. It’s very effective on nematodes and thrips.”
Even though AgLogic™ aldicarb costs more than seed treatments, Carraway justifies the investment by using only fungicide base treated seed. Based on his calculations, he saves about $10-$12 by foregoing extra seed treatments which he considers mostly ineffective.
“When you look at it like that, AgLogic™ aldicarb is only costing me about $20 an acre versus about $32 per acre. That figure doesn’t even address what it saves us in early season pest control, fewer early season foliar applications and the benefits of more vigorous plant health.”
In some cases, depending on the cost of seed treatments, simply leaving them off can offset the cost of AgLogic™ by as much as $18 per acre.
“We also get a grow-off advantage,” Carraway says. “I had one hopper box in 2019 that was stopped up, and you could see the difference from planting, right up until we harvested.”
As the 2021 season looms in the future, Carraway may tweak a few inputs here and there, but he’s adamant he won’t gamble with early pest control and careful crop monitoring.
Will he use AgLogic™ again next year? “Absolutely,” he says.
As the 2021 season looms ever closer on the horizon, it pays to look back as always. For the next few months, growers will be carefully examining what went right and what went wrong. In many cases, their neighbors will be more than happy to tell them at the coffee shop.
One trending strategy over the past few years has been opting out of seed treatments. Although it sounds like a somewhat unusual concept in this day and age, it’s garnering attention.
“Before the days when we had dozens and dozens of seed treatment options, we were controlling thrips and nematodes without too much of a problem,” says Michael Roberts who farms with his sons Michael and Chase in Worth County, GA.
“For years, we had used Temik,” Michael says. “It was very effective on both nematodes and thrips, and we were sailing along pretty good. Of course, then the rug was jerked out from under us, and we lost Temik for several years. During that absence from the market, we were scrambling to come up with a substitute plan to get our cotton off to a good start as well as control early season pests.”
After 40 years on the market, Temik aldicarb pesticide was pulled from sales in 2010, but returned six years later as ‘AgLogic™ aldicarb’, marketed by a new company – AgLogic™ Chemical Company.
“Because aldicarb is now marketed under the name ‘AgLogic’, I don’t think some growers even know it’s back on the market,” Michael says. “They just think Temik is gone. Only the name is gone. Now it’s AgLogic. The formulation is the same.”
While there has been some initial pushback in terms of product cost, the Roberts calculate the entirety of their pest control program instead of considering only a single input.
Every input impacts another input, according to Mason. “If you get off to an early start with nematode suppression, better germination and early season thrips control, you develop a canopy faster which helps with weed control because it’s shading the rows,” he says. “A stronger plant in the beginning fights off potential problems with disease. And if you use a product that is easy on beneficials such as AgLogic, it decreases the chances of problems down the line with secondary insects. And on it goes.”
That reasoning is why the Roberts prefer to invest upfront in their cotton crop if possible rather than waiting to stamp out problems as they arise.
“We’re back to using aldicarb now that it’s available as AgLogic™ aldicarb,” Michael says. “We’re getting the same results that we did back when Temik was available.”
As for the premium price, the Roberts say it’s worth the investment. “Sure, we could buy cheaper products, but that often means sub-standard results,” Mason says. “If you go that route, then you’re fighting the battle from behind. The seed treatments can’t really compare.”
That’s where the calculations get interesting, according to the Roberts. “We don’t use treated seed,” Mason says. “We only use a base treatment. That saves us about 40 percent on a bag of seed or $13-$14 per acre by not using the seed treatments which helps offset the cost of AgLogic.”
The Roberts use 5 lbs. per acre of AgLogic™ aldicarb at planting. “Sometimes, we’ll go as high as 7 lbs. per acre of AgLogic™ if we’re dealing with fields with higher nematode populations,” Mason says. “We have a fair amount of root-knot nematode on some of our sandier soils.”
In addition to nematode suppression, early grow-off and the ever-critical thrips control, the Roberts also factor in less tangible savings such as early season spray scheduling.
“When thrips are bad – which is often – you have to hit them as early as possible if you’re relying on foliars,” Mason says. “Seed treatments don’t cut it. Resistance has been building for years, and they’re less effective now. So, if you have to spray for thrips, you have to consider how you’re going to get in the field.”
Approximately 90 percent of the Roberts’ acreage is irrigated by center pivots. Chase manages that aspect of the operation.
“You obviously can’t put a spray rig in the field if you’re irrigating it,” he says. “That’s one of the things that makes my job easier. By using AgLogic™ at planting, I don’t have to worry as much about scheduling irrigation around foliar applications. I can schedule it when the plants need the water.”
All things considered, the Roberts are pleased to have AgLogic™ back in their program. “It’s one of those products you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s going to work,” Michael says. “The industry, the consultants and the growers have enough experience with it to know what it will do. Nothing about that has changed over the years. We think it’s worth looking at the overall picture when we’re making a decision.”
No one will argue that farming has been easy the past few years, but there are some corners that just can’t be cut. Balancing the risk versus reward is one of the most complicated of decisions a grower will make in the planning process for next year’s crop.
For Littleton Wilder, Sr., and sons Littleton Wilder, Jr. and Lynn Wilder, 2020 was a bit of a shift in their crop mix. “We had a fairly normal price for peanuts in 2020, so we decided to put more of our acreage in peanuts,” Littleton Wilder, Jr. says. “Compared to some of the other options, it just made sense for us.”
Littleton Wilder Jr.
Making it Work
The close-knit family has been farming in the Pelham area for four generations. Some of them even live on Wilder Road which will get to another road that will go somewhere – assuming of course, anyone would want to go somewhere else.
“We love farming, and we love this area,” says Littleton Wilder, Sr. “Sometimes it’s tough, but we do our best to make it work.”
Anticipating pest pressure is one of the most serious considerations the Wilders factor into their crop management long before a crop is ever planted. “We have one of the best, if not the best, crop consultants in the area who looks after our crops and helps us make decisions long before a seed ever hits the dirt,” Lynn Wilder, remarked. “We knew that moving a lot of our acreage to peanuts would create a problem with thrips. You could say the same thing about cotton. In this part of the world, thrips will just eat you up.”
Some Things Are a Must
Like almost any grower with any crop in any area, cutting costs are a top priority. However, some costs just can’t be cut.
“We believe that early season pest control is the key to making a good peanut crop,” Wilder, Jr. says. “You just can’t cut corners on that one.”
The Wilders use AgLogic™ aldicarb at a rate of 5.5 lbs. per acre at planting on all of their peanut acreage. “We do it mostly for thrips control, but I think it probably helps a little bit with nematodes, even at that rate,” he says.
Bypassing foliar sprays for thrips control has additional benefits, according to Wilder, Jr. “Obviously, there is the advantage of cutting out foliar applications,” he says. “There are so many things to do early in the season, it’s an incredible hassle to stop everything and go put out a thrips fire. Not, only that, but if you go put out a thrips fire with a foliar, you’ll probably end up with another fire.”
Flaring secondary pest problems with foliar sprays is always a concern – especially when cheaper, broad-spectrum sprays are used to control thrips.
“If we can get away without spraying during the early season, or at least minimize our early season sprays, we’re way ahead of the game,” Wilder, Jr. says. “In addition, sometimes I think it’s easy to forget how important beneficals are when it comes to controlling thrips. An in-furrow, at-planting material such as AgLogic™ not only gives us about six weeks of thrips control, but it doesn’t mess with the beneficials that gives us even more control.”
A Crop that Pops
Early stand establishment is also critical in peanuts, according numerous research trials in peanut growing areas. “It makes sense,” Wilder, Jr. says. “When you can get that plant to pop out of the ground with strong, healthy roots and a good canopy, it’s a lot more prepared to take on anything that might hold it back.”
An early, healthy stand of peanuts is always preferable to a spotty stand for obvious reasons, as well as some reasons that aren’t quite as obvious. Disease issues are typically less significant. Root and pod diseases are often typical in early stressed peanuts and then conducive to the onset of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, particularly when emergence is less than ideal.
In addition, an early developing canopy provides shade that reduces weed pressure. Fast forward to an always uncertain Fall, and an earlier harvest can prove quite beneficial in some years.
“You don’t have to ask us what an earlier harvest means,” Wilder, Jr. says. “We’ve been through enough terrible years where you wish you had just a week or two of a head start on getting those peanuts out of the field.”
Don’t Get Behind
The Wilders focused more on peanuts in 2020, but they also grow cotton in varying acreage depending on the price outlook. “It was a tough year to commit to cotton due to the price, but it’s always one of our options we consider,” Wilder, Jr. says. “That’s another crop where getting off to a good start is extremely important. You definitely don’t want to get behind in pest control before you even get started. Just like thrips control in peanuts, you do not want to play catch-up.”
Even though AgLogic™ is a more expensive, up-front investment than the wait-and-see approach, the Wilders believe it is well worth it when all is said and done.
“If anything, it’s just peace of mind,” Wilder, Jr. says. “We know we’re going to get off to the best start possible. We don’t have to worry so much about what thrips are going to do to the crop in the first few weeks, and I’m pretty sure it makes our consultant happy. That’s always a plus.”
Not Changing Now
The Wilders take everything they can into consideration when making any decision – financial or otherwise.
“You can’t look at the cost of one input without looking at what it contributes to the overall picture,” Wilder, Jr. says. “Yeah, maybe nematodes are a factor. It’s very likely an early start to a healthy crop is a factor. It’s hard to put a value on that one. Maybe we won’t have to spray as much. Maybe a better canopy is a factor in weed control. Maybe it’s something else. The one thing you can bet on year after year is that thrips are going to be a factor.”
Asked if he would cut any more corners for the 2021 season, Wilder, Jr. replied, “Everything we can possibly cut, but not the early season, in-furrow pest control. It’s worked for us for years, and we’re not about to change it now.”
Photo: Andrew Sawyer, University of Georgia
April 23, 2020
From a Press Release
It’s not too late to factor in the value of earliness when it comes to at-planting inputs.
As growers race into the 2020 planting season, there is still time to make last minute decisions that will affect the entire growing season, according to Jack Royal with Royal’s Ag Consultant Co. in Leary, GA.
“It’s not too late,” Royal says. “Even at-planting inputs are still up for consideration. Keep in mind that at-planting inputs will quite certainly affect crop development and performance throughout the entire season and especially the early season kick-off.”
While most decisions such as variety selection have already been made, other inputs such as at-planting pest control options are still on the table. Protecting the emerging seedling from the moment of planting can help minimize pest control issues that often occur as early as the cotyledon stage if not earlier.
Prior to emergence, the first threat is invisible. Nematodes are an insidious, destructive attacker from the moment the seed hits the furrow. Root-knot, reniform, sting and other nematodes can wreak havoc on emerging seedlings, setting the crop back before it even emerges.
Enter the second line of attack – thrips.
“The problem with thrips is they attack early after emergence,” Royal says. “If you’re relying on a spray program to control thrips, you’re already behind the eight-ball. They’re already attacking before you can get a sprayer in the field. Additionally, there are multiple other operations across most farming operations that need to be addressed at the same time. Sometimes, it comes down to which fire to put out first.”
Early season pest control has popularized at-planting inputs. In recent years, growers have benefited from a few additions to the at-planting market. One of the more recent introductions has been a reintroduction of aldicarb. Marketed for more than 40 years under the brand name Temik, the product reappeared in 2016 – after a six-year hiatus – as AgLogic™ aldicarb.
“It’s been a welcome addition,” Royal says. “It has both nematode and thrips protection and addresses the problems we were starting to see with resistance to seed treatments.”
In addition to pest protection, earliness is another factor often overlooked.
“There’s no doubt you can see it in almost every year we’ve evaluated it,” says Ron Smith, Auburn Alabama University Cooperative Extension. “There’s no scarcity of data over the years – from early season thrips assessment, damage ratings to white bloom counts – that establishes that benefit.”
Other benefits also factor into the equation, according to Dr. Jeremy Greene, Professor of Entomology, Clemson University, Edisto Research and Education Station, Blackville, SC.
“In 2019, AgLogic™ was one of the best performing treatments in the trials,” he says. “Although we didn’t see any differences in yield in 2019, the benefits of protecting the crop early were readily apparent with less thrips and earlier established canopies. In the absence of increased yield, these benefits can still lead to earlier maturity and less weed pressure.”
The balancing act is always an issue of cost vs. return and risk vs. reward. All at-planting inputs require an up-front investment. In a time of uncertainty complicated by a global pandemic, ever-evolving international trade agreements and fluctuating futures prices, the analysis can often seem daunting. Recent upward ticks in cotton futures are fueling a cautious optimism that ease these concerns somewhat.
Regardless of market fluctuations, one constant remains. “We don’t have to prove what aldicarb contributes to cotton or peanut production,” Royal says. “After almost 50 years, we already know. That six-year absence from the market made it crystal clear.”