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.
The benefits of AgLogic – from planting until harvest.SEE BENEFITS
(Featured Image) South Carolina cotton farmer Lyle Carraway said the performance consistency of aldicarb is reassuring to him.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a few years under your belt to assess if you’re actually on the right track. After all, one good year does not a good decade make. Nor does one bad year. Or one so-so year.
“We had good year in 2022, all things considered,” said Lyle Carraway, a grower in Bishopville, South Carolina. “Cotton and beans turned out pretty good. We didn’t plant corn due to fertilizer costs.”
South Carolina cotton farmer Lyle Carraway said the performance consistency of aldicarb is reassuring to him.
With everything put to bed for 2022, Carraway said he’s mostly running around burning fuel thinking about what comes next. “There are so many factors to consider,” he said. “Inflation, supply chain issues, pest pressure, weather, emerging technologies. You name it.”
One thing is certain. He’ll be using AgLogic 15GG aldicarb again in 2023. “It’s consistent, saves me time, and if everything goes somewhat as planned, it makes me money.”
Similar to other growers, Carraway uses AgLogic 15GG for thrips and nematode control. But there are other benefits as well. “I like the consistency,” he said.
Since aldicarb (AgLogic 15GG) was reinstated to the market in 2016 after a brief hiatus, that advantage rings true now as much as it has in more than 50 years. In an increasingly complex agricultural environment, performance consistency is a reassuring factor in any aspect of crop production.
“Cotton growers have benefited from the registration of aldicarb in several ways,” said Ron Smith, visiting professor (retired), entomology and plant pathology, Auburn University. “The consistent, highly effective thrips control provided by aldicarb results in farmers not needing to make foliar sprays for thrips. Our observations indicate that cotton treated with aldicarb is less likely to be infested with threshold levels of spider mites.
(Image Right) Lynn Hopkins, who farms cotton in Lee County, South Carolina, said early thrips control saves him at least one trip across the field with a sprayer.
“This may result from a combination of spider mite control and not making a foliar thrips spray with disruptive chemicals,” Smith continued. “In addition to insect control, aldicarb also provides suppression of nematodes and has an important fit in nematode-infested fields.”
Thrips and nematode control are two reasons Lynn Hopkins has been using AgLogic on his cotton for the past three years. However, there are other reasons. Hopkins farms in Lee County, South Carolina. “The earliness we get out of the product is definitely an advantage,” he says. “The pest control is the obvious benefit, but getting the crop to jump out of the ground and get going is also a benefit.”
Hopkins applies AgLogic 15GG aldicarb at a rate of 5 lbs. per acre on his cotton. “The early thrips control saves me at least one trip across the field with a sprayer,” he said. “Since I’m a one-man operation, that advantage becomes even more valuable.”
Weather events over the past few years have made consistency of control even more important. Although thrips and nematodes are the primary reasons for early season use of AgLogic 15GG aldicarb, there is also the anticipation of what might come later. Weather is largely an unknown factor and can impact pest populations long after plant emergence.
In recent years, spring weather and peak thrips populations have been unpredictable according to Scott Graham, assistant professor and Extension specialist, Auburn University.
“In the past two years, wet springs have pushed our planting windows later in many areas,” he said. “This resulted in cotton being planted into the peak thrips pressure window, which is normally expected to be early in the planting season. The Thrips Infestation Predictor Model provides farmers with information on the risk of thrips injury based on planting dates, but sometimes this model is too late to decide on when to use aldicarb or rely on seed treatments alone.”
With planting looming shortly on the horizon, growers are turning their attention from the deer stand to upcoming management challenges. “One of the reasons I like using AgLogic is I don’t have to worry about everything quite as much,” Hopkins said. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to worry about, but it’s nice to know you can rest a little easier with thrips and nematode control early on.”
(Featured Image) Whit Player farms 1,500 acres of cotton near Bishopville, South Carolina.
Backpedal to 2021. That season was an eye-opener for Whit Player, Bishopville, South Carolina, cotton grower. He had purchased a new planter with granular applicator boxes.
Unsure of exactly what he wanted to do with the boxes, he thought back to the days of Temik (aldicarb) when his daddy hardly ever planted a row of cotton without aldicarb underneath it. Back then, they didn’t worry about thrips too much. It was almost a given Temik would take care of that problem.
With that thought long-embedded in his memory, Player decided to see if aldicarb — now sold as AgLogic aldicarb — would still give him the same peace of mind. So, he used it on a few of his 1,500 acres of cotton in 2021.
“Jerry Adams (JLA Consulting, Bishopville, South Carolina) came out and calibrated the planter,” he said. “He’s had years of experience with the product, so he rigged it up and let it go on some of the fields across different varieties, leaving part of the cotton untreated on purpose.”
As the 2021 season unfolded, even Adams couldn’t see much of a difference. “Maybe it’s one of those years when the cotton is just so good, you’re not going to see it,” he commented at the time.
Without even so much as a yield monitor to prove his theory one way or another, Player began harvesting his cotton in late October 2021.
“Even after defoliation we really weren’t expecting to see much difference between the treated and untreated,” he said. “We had the treated rows flagged throughout the season all the way through harvest. You couldn’t see the difference with a naked eye between treated or non-treated.”
That all changed when the picker started running. The round baler told the story.
“We started on the untreated, then switched over to the treated,” he said. “Again, I didn’t have a yield monitor on it, but you could definitely see it when it finished a bale.”
That was enough to convince Player he was going to make AgLogic a permanent fixture in his early season pest management program.
“When we lost Temik (aldicarb) for a few years, we moved on — or at least thought we had moved on,” he said. “Then we got it back. There’s nothing like remembering the performance of a product you thought you’d never see again. It may have a different name as AgLogic, but it’s the same product with the same benefits.”
Those benefits are thrips control, nematode suppression and earliness, according to Player. But the one benefit that stood out to him last season was peace of mind. He didn’t have to be the full-time plant manager. AgLogic aldicarb handled that job for him. He felt it again this year when he put 5 lbs. of AgLogic aldicarb under his entire 1,500 acres of cotton.
“Before I started using aldicarb again, I was out there in the field shaking plants trying to figure out how many thrips I had per plant and what to do about it,” he said. “In 2021 and again his year, I didn’t have to check for thrips. I didn’t even have to get out of the truck, although I did from time to time to make sure I was right. The leaves were big, healthy and nothing was eating on them. That was AgLogic at work.”
As Extension specialists and consultants reported heavy thrips pressure at the beginning of 2022 across much of the Cotton Belt, Player was unfazed and kept rolling down the highway.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn’t too kind as the year progressed, but Player is satisfied with his choice. “We have a pretty decent crop,” he said. “I’ll use the product again in 2023. It’s not a record, but it’s still a solid crop. There is nothing like the earliness factor to give you a fighting chance. Plus, it’s nice not having to get out of your truck so much. I’ve got other things to do.”
By this point in the season, growers are thinking about all sorts of issues with their cotton crop. Nematodes are probably not top-of-mind unless something is going on in the field that doesn’t quite make sense.
If that’s the case, it’s time to sample if nematodes are a suspected culprit.
“Sampling is most important when you are concerned that a new field may have a problem, or if you are growing a nematode-resistant variety and are concerned that there may still be a nematode problem,” said Terry Wheeler, Ph.D, plant pathologist/nematologist, Texas A&M AgriLife at Lubbock, Texas.
“Later season sampling may also have some value if you are growing another crop and want to check on nematode buildup that may affect the next year’s cotton crop.”
Although there is not much that can be done to remedy the issue in the present, next year is an entirely different story. With an ever-increasing arsenal of nematode-resistant varieties, chemical control options and field management, the opportunities to gain an upper hand on a nematode issue are better now than they’ve ever been.
Beyond generally suspecting a nematode issue in a field, it’s important to identify exactly what species of nematode is present. The two most likely culprits are root-knot and reniform. This knowledge will impact future management decisions particularly as it relates to variety selection, according to Wheeler.
“In this part of Texas, the reniform nematode is slowly increasing across acreage,” she said. “In other parts of Texas, the reniform nematode is showing up in new fields or areas. Root-knot nematode has been stable in its distribution for decades.”
Root-knot nematode covers the most acres in cotton (and peanuts in other parts of Texas) and can cause a low to moderate amount of damage, according to Wheeler.
“Reniform nematode is much more limited in its distribution but can cause 50% to 70% yield loss once it is well distributed in a field,” she said. “This can be problematic, especially if the producer is not doing anything to manage it.”
Battling nematodes often starts with a bag of seed. Today, there are numerous cotton varieties with varying degrees of root-knot and/or reniform resistance.
“With root-knot nematode, there are partially or highly resistant varieties with Deltapine, FiberMax, Stoneville and PhytoGen,” Wheeler said. “Dyna-Gro also has some, but I have not been able to test any to see how well they perform. With reniform nematode, the big news is that there are now several reniform/root-knot nematode resistant varieties that combine resistance to both.”
Those varieties include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following, according to Wheeler:
• PHY 205 W3FE
• PHY 332 W3FE
• PHY 411 W3FE
• PHY 443 W3FE
• DP 2141NR B3XF
• DP 2143NR B3XF
“With reniform nematode, I would expect the resistant varieties to increase cotton yields relative to all the reniform nematode susceptible varieties; plus, the reniform-resistant varieties will lower the nematode population around 60%,” she said.
“Typically, the highest yielding resistant variety in my trials doubles the yield compared with reniform susceptible varieties.”
As always, rotation is a key management option when it comes to nematode issues.
“The only other alternative that I recommend with reniform nematode is to rotate one to two years out of cotton with a non-host like sorghum or corn following each cotton crop,” Wheeler said. “The situation regarding reniform nematode resistance is all upside at this point.
“For root-knot nematode, depending on the resistant variety, there may be no increase in yield compared with a root-knot susceptible variety. The best root-knot nematode resistant varieties, in terms of yields, average about 17% higher than susceptible cotton varieties, and that typically is found in some of the PhytoGen varieties or ST 4946GLB2.”
As growers consider their options in 2023, supplemental chemical control is always a tried-and-true input in challenging nematode situations and is equally effective on root-knot and reniform.
The recommended at-plant options, according to Wheeler, include Velum and AgLogic. Post-plant options include Vydate CLV or Return XL.
(Featured Image) Steve Brown, The Peanut Foundation executive director, says growers have a lot of clout in Washington D.C. “When growers make their voice heard through their local organizations, I think it carries a lot of weight in the halls of Congress.”
The idea of product stewardship is not new in the ag industry. Everyone knows it’s good to be kind to the land, give a crop a fighting chance and protect an investment from start to finish.
But stewardship involves more than an arsenal of crop protection products and a prayer that things will turn out reasonably well by the end of the season. It also involves a proactive approach from the field to Washington D.C.
Simply keeping a product on the market is a daunting challenge, says Steve Brown, Peanut Research Foundation executive director. “You want to protect your privilege to use a product to produce crops. Stewardship and understanding of the products and how to handle them is critical for keeping products on the market.”
When AgLogic Chemical Co. decided to bring aldicarb (formerly branded as Temik) back to the market, leadership decided upfront that product stewardship would be not only forefront, but also mandatory. Currently, anyone buying, selling or applying AgLogic aldicarb must pass a written certification test designed to reinforce the understanding of product stewardship. The intent was obviously not to make it more difficult to sell the product, but to reinforce the importance of complying with all regulations regarding its use.
“In our current modern world of agriculture, you have to go through re-registration every so often,” Brown says. “You’re building a record the whole time you’re out there on the market. Every time there’s a misuse or a complaint, it goes into a file. It’s a black mark against you. It can be any kind of product.”
Stewardship goes further than complying with the rules and regulations. It’s also the idea of standing up for science and the merits of a product. While that concept is not new, it’s become increasingly important to maintain product availability across the entire agricultural industry.
That means getting involved, according to Vern Crawford, long-time former Pest Control Advisor (PCA) with Wilbur-Ellis in Shafter, California. Now retired, he still advocates for the responsible use of pesticides in the industry and the importance of getting involved from the grower level up regardless of how small one grower might think his or her voice might be.
“I’ve seen it a lot of times over the course of my career,” Crawford says. “Growers tend to want to concentrate on their strengths — production and equipment — and leave the marketing and industry oversight to others so they can stay focused on the furrows and the equipment. However, it’s just as important to take a stand in policy that affects the industry.
“Growers shouldn’t just leave it up to a company that markets a product,” Crawford says. “First and foremost, they need to adhere to the regulations, but also be an advocate to maintain continued use of products when that use is beneficial to their individual operation and the industry.”
What some growers take for granted is the power of a single voice and the synergy created when that voice, along with others, are united on a local level.
“Growers have a lot of clout in D.C.,” Brown says. “It may not be as much clout as they would like to have, but when a grower goes to Congress and says ‘this product is vital to my livelihood, and we can’t grow good crops that are important to our country without it,’ that gets more attention than a company going and saying we want to sell this product because it fulfills an important need to the industry.
“It carries more weight,” Brown says. “When growers make their voice heard through their local organizations, I think it does carry a lot of weight in the halls of Congress.”
Brown has considerable experience with aldicarb when it was marketed as Temik (now as AgLogic.)
“I worked with aldicarb when I was a peanut entomologist years ago,” he says. “I think Temik was probably the No. 1 use of aldicarb because of peanuts, cotton and pecans in the state of Georgia. It was one of the best options we had for early season pest control in those crops.”
(Image Left) Dan Anco, Clemson University Extension peanut specialist, says, “Pesticides are an important tool in our integrated management of peanut. Whether interest seeks greater efficacy, practicality or cost-effectiveness, the voice of farmers is vital to keeping our research activities relevant and applicable.”
Stewardship and grower participation is also critical at the many research stations located across the nation. Without the science and field data to back a crop protection material, that product would not be available to growers. Although research may seem far removed from the grower level, it’s not, according to Dan Anco, Clemson University Extension peanut specialist and associate professor at the Edisto Research and Education Center.
“The research of my program is directly driven by farmer input and needs,” he says. “When farmers share their concerns, it is my duty and interest as a land grant researcher to address these issues. I get both direct input talking to individual farmers, as well as current research needs and priorities from organizations such as the South Carolina Peanut Board.”
The importance of that participation from the grower level up cannot be underestimated, Anco says.
“Pesticides are a very important tool in our integrated management of peanut. Whether interest seeks greater efficacy, practicality or cost-effectiveness, the voice of farmers is vital to keeping our research activities relevant and applicable,” he says. “It keeps us grounded, and the mutual, sincere exchange of ideas and legwork continues to fine tune the direction of our efforts.” PG
Once the seed hits the furrow and it’s covered with soil, the battle has begun. It starts with nematodes. Once the furrow is closed, it’s largely a matter of how well the seed survives the first six weeks.
Making effective and timely decisions is everything, according to Bob Kemerait, Ph.D., Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia.
“It is critical to ensure that you have the right seed or the right nematicide in the furrow before the furrow is closed,” Kemerait says. “Once the furrow is closed, nearly all of your nematode management options are over. Growers MUST NOT miss this opportunity to make the best decision. Missing the chance to fight nematodes at planting means watching from the sidelines for the rest of the season as the cotton crop takes a beating. Also, nematodes may affect not only the crop, but also the impact of every other input invested into growing the crop.”
When it comes to nematodes, it’s an issue that will most likely persist not only for the current season, but for years, according to Adrienne Gorny, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Nematode Epidemiology and Management, University of North Carolina State University.
“Unfortunately, nematodes and other soil borne diseases tend to be ‘long term’ problems,” Gorny says “Once nematodes are established in the field, they have the potential to cause economic problems year after year.”
“Nematode sampling is great information to have,” says John Mueller, Ph.D., Professor of Plant Pathology, Edisto Research and Education Center. “But between the logistics and cost of running samples I can understand why growers are sometimes reluctant.
Across much of the Cotton Belt, the most common nematode species of concern have traditionally been reniform and root-knot. Even that balance of concern tends to shift over time.
“In Louisiana, we have been seeing a gradual displacement of Southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) with the reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis),” says Tristan Watson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, LSU AgCenter.
“In a recent survey of 118 Louisiana soybean fields conducted in 2020, Southern root-knot nematode was recovered from 19.5 percent of fields, and reniform nematode from 61.9 percent,” he says.
“When present in a field, population densities of either nematode species were often well above the established damage threshold for soybean and cotton in Louisiana. Why the reniform nematode is becoming more prevalent in Louisiana production fields is unknown. However, a faster life cycle and enhanced overwintering capacity relative to Southern root-knot nematode may be contributing factors.”
In some areas, new species are becoming an increasing issue for growers and impacting multiple crops.
“Soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines) continues to spread in North Carolina and other areas of the US,” Gorny says. “In North Carolina, this species has been reported in two new counties since 2017. Another nematode – Meloidogyne enterolobii – commonly referred to as the guava root-knot nematode – is an introduced species of root-knot nematode that is highly aggressive on numerous crops.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing M. enterolobii expand in distribution in North Carolina. It has currently been confirmed in 13 counties, mainly in the central and eastern part of the state.”
In many areas of South Carolina and some parts of North Carolina and Georgia, Columbia lance nematode has emerged as a more serious concern over the past few years causing increasingly severe yield losses in corn, cotton and soybean, according to Mueller.
“Its distribution is limited to the coarse textured sandy soils typical of the Coastal Plain in South Carolina,” Mueller says. “These soils are typically where we also see the most damage from Southern root-knot nematode. While we may see reductions in Southern root-knot populations with resistant varieties, we may see that offset by an increase in Columbia lance nematode.”
Columbia lance nematode has also been detected in Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana. Nematologists in other areas of the Cotton Belt are certainly on the lookout for it as well.
More problematic than a nematode moving a relative short distance from plant to plant, is the ability of that nematode to hitch a ride on equipment being moved from field to field. Nematologists stress the importance of cleaning equipment on a regular basis, particularly when moving from a known nematode-infested field to another field. Consultants echo the same concern.
“I think it’s a very good practice to routinely clean equipment when moving from field to field,” says Jerry Adams, JLA Consulting Service, Bishopville, SC.
“If you’re moving equipment through nematode infested dirt, you’re picking up nematodes and moving them wherever you go next. In reality, very few growers clean their equipment when they’re moving to another field. It’s a hassle, but it should be considered a lot more than it is. If you’ve got a nematode infestation in one field, why do you want to transport the problem across the road?”
Although cultural practices such as rotation to non-host crops and planting nematode resistant varieties (if available) can help curb injury from nematodes, chemical control is often needed to suppress nematode populations to an acceptable level.
There are numerous options such as seed treatments, resistant or tolerant varieties, liquid in-furrow nematicides and fumigants. Fumigants are arguably the most effective method of controlling any nematode issue that might exist – at a very high cost.
A little over 50 years ago, aldicarb, originally marketed as Temik, was commercially introduced in 1970 for control of nematodes and early season foliar pests. Today it’s marketed as AgLogic aldicarb. Essentially the same product, it’s still being evaluated by almost every nematologist in current day research trials.
“I can’t remember a year when aldicarb wasn’t included in one of my nematicide trials,” says Kathy Lawrence, Ph.D., Professor, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University. “It’s always been a consistent standard for comparison because its performance is so predictable.”
That’s not an isolated opinion.
“In terms of non-fumigant nematicides, it is the gold standard for nematode control across a wide range of species,” says Travis Faske, Ph.D., professor and extension plant pathologist, University of Arkansas, Lonoke Extension Center. “After decades of data, it’s hard to argue with its performance.”
“For both cotton and soybean, resistant varieties are our best lines of defense for southern n root-knot nematode,” Mueller says. “We have resistance now to reniform in high yielding cotton varieties, so that is our starting point to control it. There is resistance to reniform nematode in a few soybean varieties that are suited to South Carolina, but sometimes they are hard to find.
“The niche for aldicarb in both crops is in fields where you have Columbia lance, lesion and/or stubby root nematodes and want to grow cotton or soybeans,” he continues. “We currently have no resistance to any of those three species in cotton or soybean. Peanut is the only rotation crop that will reduce levels of Columbia lance nematodes. But even rotation with peanuts will allow the buildup of lesion nematode populations.”
In most situations, fumigation is simply cost-prohibitive, cumbersome, and time-consuming.
“You’re simply not going to find a lot of growers who are going to spend the money to fumigate for nematodes,” Faske says. “It usually doesn’t pencil out.
“In most cases, the next most effective option is aldicarb,” he says. “Of all the non-fumigant alternatives, AgLogic aldicarb is the most consistent product available. That’s why we include it in research trials every year. It’s a benchmark for which all others are measured.”
Many nematologists across the Cotton Belt agree with this assessment.
“AgLogic (aldicarb) is an important tool – among our most effective nematicides – for protecting yield in our peanut, cotton, and soybean crops,” Kemerait says. “Short of using a resistant variety or fumigating with Telone II, AgLogic aldicarb is as good or better, than any other options our growers have to battle nematodes.”
That’s 50-something years of data.
(Image Above) A symbolic passing of the sweep net ushers in a new generation of aspiring entomologists. Auburn University Extension entomologist Dr. Ron Smith (left) hands his legacy to protege Dr. Scott Graham, Auburn University Extension entomologist.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION
Circa late 1980s — “The Boll Weevil Eradication Program was one of the most significant developments in cotton production over the past 50 years. It was terribly unpopular at first, but I don’t know what our industry would look like today if we hadn’t buckled down and endured that temporary pain.” — Ron Smith, PhD, professor emeritus, Extension entomologist, Auburn University
Circa mid 1990s — “I would say watching the transitions in products and the ability of an insect to adapt to whatever is thrown at it has been one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of my career. Don’t ever think you’ve won the battle. It’s just a matter of time.” — Gus Lorenz, PhD, Extension entomologist, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Drs. Gus Lorenz and Ron Smith are technically retired from university Extension now. However, it’s impossible to roll through a four-way stop on a country road in Arkansas or Alabama and not see the footprints in the mud, dirt and the ongoing legacy of their careers.
Lorenz retired in December 2021, while Smith “officially” retired in 2003, but has stayed on with Auburn University in supportive positions.
Both are highly territorial — at least when it comes to something like football. However, bring up a boll weevil, budworm, plant bug or any other type of cotton invader and you’ve got a united front.
“I would say across the entire Cotton Belt, as entomologists, we work very closely together,” Smith said. “We’re like the ‘band of brothers’ when it comes to fighting issues that we face every single season. And it’s constantly evolving, so that collaboration from one state to another or even areas within a state are extremely important.”
(Image Left) Enjoying a break from the sweep net, Dr. Gus Lorenz, Extension entomologist, University of Arkansas (center) embraces the next generation. Nick Bateman (left), assistant professor and crop entomologist, University of Arkansas Extension and Dr. Ben Thrash, Extension entomologist, University of Arkansas.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GUS LORENZ
The collaboration also extends across generations of perspective and the symbolic handing over of the sweep net to a younger set of equally enthusiastic entomologists.
Smith has collaborated closely with Dr. Scott Graham, assistant professor and Extension specialist, entomology and plant pathology, Auburn University, who now fills (or said he tries to fill) Smith’s shoes.
For Lorenz, it’s Dr. Ben Thrash, assistant professor and Extension entomologist, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, who’s taken over his spot.
The collaboration among Smith, Lorenz and their successors is evident when both retired entomologists talk about the most challenging pest issues they have faced over their careers.
As with any lessons learned, it begins with unforgettable pests and events that tested and molded two distinguished careers.
The three that top the list are boll weevil eradication, the advent of pyrethroid chemistry and the incorporation of GMO traits into cotton varieties for pest control. Whether those events are listed chronologically or not, the most challenging one for both Smith and Lorenz was the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.
(Image Right) The Boll Weevil Eradication Program started in September of 1987 across the southern portion of Alabama. By the summer of 1995, no economic losses to boll weevil were recorded in Alabama for the first time in more than 80 years.
“There were a lot of unhappy growers when the Boll Weevil Eradication Program was first proposed,” Lorenz said. “That was a time in my career when it wasn’t pleasant to go to grower meetings. A lot of growers were under the assumption that boll weevils weren’t hurting their yields that much. We knew that wasn’t true because we had the research to prove it. I felt very strongly about the program. It was rigorous to say the least, but it all worked out.”
Smith agreed. “That was the most difficult issue I ever faced as an entomologist,” he said. “The eventual success of that program put us in a whole new ballgame — hopefully forever into the future.
“I believe that was the most permanent of the three most notable changes in my career,” Smith said. “We still don’t see any signs of boll weevil coming back into this area. They’re still fighting boll weevil down in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. But as long as we can keep them from spreading northward again into the Cotton Belt, I think that one will hold up as the most game-changing accomplishment in cotton production in this area.”
Another notable game changer was the advent of pyrethroids.
“When the pyrethroid chemistry was developed in the late 1970s, it was such an advancement,” Smith said. “We didn’t have anything except methyl parathion or phosphates to work with, which led to resistance of tobacco budworm and often flared secondary pests. We were losing ground fast. The pyrethroids bought us about a decade to manage tobacco budworm and secondary pests. Of course, even that eventually lost out to resistance as well.
“However, at the time, it helped with boll weevil control, because application intervals could be extended from five to seven days. Pyrethroids were highly effective on almost all cotton insects and gave us some much-needed relief for a few years.”
At that point, Lorenz was a young cotton scout in southeast Arkansas. “That’s when the first applications of Pounce and Ambush were going out,” he said. “I remember walking the fields the next morning after we had sprayed a pyrethroid. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. I described it as an ‘ecological desert’. There was not a living insect. And I remember wondering what I was going to do for the rest of my career. There wouldn’t be anything left to do. Or so I thought at the time.”
As with all “magic bullets,” the blanket relief offered from pyrethroids began to wane and was most problematic in the budworm/bollworm complex — the very problem it was created to solve. That’s when another major development hit the scene.
The introduction of genetically modified traits into cotton varieties was yet another game changer, according to both Lorenz and Smith. “When we started working with GMO varieties like Bollgard and WideStrike, it was suddenly a new world,” Smith said. “We finally had another, very effective tool we could use.”
It was a new technology that radically changed pest management strategy, according to Lorenz.
“When the Bollgard Bt technology came in, it was a lifesaver for us,” he said. “It helped us keep other problems in check because we had a new weapon to fight the budworm/bollworm complex.
“We were one of the first to get that seed, but it wasn’t until June, so it was very late getting planted. It came up, was growing and looking good. It was pre-bloom. But it was one of those years when the worms were really bad.
“On a Thursday and Friday, we got this huge moth flight — one of the biggest egg lays I’ve ever seen in my career. I said to myself, ‘They’re fixing to eat this cotton down to the ground.’
“We came back in on a Monday and started walking the fields. We couldn’t find one living worm — I mean not one single living worm. I was flabbergasted. That’s when I knew the industry really had something.”
The Bollgard technology took the industry by storm, according to Smith. “The first year it was available in 1996, 77% of the cotton acreage in Alabama was planted to Bollgard varieties,” he said. “That’s almost incomprehensible, but worms had been such a horrendous problem. In Extension, we were very supportive of the technology, so I think that helped drive the acceptance and transition.”
Along with the wins, there are also inevitable losses — or at least interruptions — throughout the course of a career.
“In addition to pointing out three of the best developments that ever happened in my career, I’ll give you the worst,” Smith said. “That’s when we lost Temik aldicarb for five years. It completely disrupted our early season approach to integrated pest management. Luckily, it’s back now as AgLogic aldicarb.”
Lorenz agreed with that assessment as well. “Temik aldicarb was probably applied on 80% to 90% of our cotton acreage in Arkansas,” he said. “When we lost that one for a few years, it gave thrips and other early season pests a lot of time and space to interfere with and slow down critical early season plant growth.”
It’s not the first, nor will it be the last chemistry to face stiff regulatory challenges — undoubtedly another issue that the new generation of entomologists will deal with.
The bug complex, particularly plant bugs and stink bugs, have emerged in recent years as perhaps the most problematic pest in cotton — at least in Arkansas and Alabama.
“Back when pyrethroids first came out, everything was super sensitive to it,” Lorenz said. “However, there is always a problem with relying on a single, highly effective compound to solve a problem. That strategy doesn’t work. If time and experience have taught us anything, it’s that if you completely remove something from the picture, there’s always going to be something that takes its place.
“It’s only a matter of time,” he said. “Plant bugs have gone from a minor secondary pest in cotton to one of our most problematic issues. Today, if you want to make a plant bug mad, spray a pyrethroid on it, and it will figure out how to hurt you.”
Although both are grouped together as the “bug complex,” the situation in Alabama is a little different. “Our biggest problem is the stink bug,” Smith said. “We also have plant bugs, but the stink bug comes in about 30 days later and damages the entire boll. It’s an incredible challenge.”
Again, integrated pest management is playing a major role in developing strategies to control plant bugs and stink bugs. “You can’t beat them down with just one approach,” Smith said.
The sweep net has seen a lot of long days, muddy rows and represents a wealth of knowledge. Passing it over to a new generation has been both symbolic and rewarding for Smith and Lorenz.
“I thought transitioning into retirement would be difficult for me,” Lorenz said. “It really hasn’t been that way at all. I miss working day-to-day with the people who were so close to me for so many years, but they’re not exactly gone. They still call. And I still answer the phone.”
In Alabama, Ron Smith hasn’t managed to completely remove himself from the Auburn campus, the football games or the marching band.
“I have an office even though I’m technically retired,” he said. “They even put me back on the payroll part time for the current year. I just can’t seem to get away from something I’ve loved so much all my life.
February 21, 2022 - With the loss of chlorpyrifos, sugar beet growers are searching for solutions to early season pest problems – particularly for sugar beet root maggot control. AgLogic™ aldicarb is one of those options.
“AgLogic is a very important crop protection material available to us at a time when we are losing options,” says Erik Wenninger, Ph.D., Entomologist, University of Idaho, Kimberly Research and Extension Center. “The product is very effective against sugar beet root maggot. When populations are especially high, it provides a level of control that becomes increasingly important in terms of yield potential.”
As a preventative measure applied at-planting, AgLogic aldicarb protects against sugar beet root maggots, nematodes as well as aphids, leafminers, and leafhoppers.
“Sugar beet root maggot control is by far the most important,” Wenninger says, “but growers might also gain some added value in control or suppression of minor pests.”
Despite a concerted industry-wide effort to keep chlorpyrifos on the market for further review, the EPA banned all uses on food and feed crops effective February 28, 2022. Chlorpyrifos is commonly marketed under the brand names Lorsban, Stallion and many other generic names in the sugar beet market. All products that include chlorpyrifos – whether a stand-alone generic or a mix with other compounds – are banned effective February 28, 2022.There is no grace period for existing inventory or supplies. The ruling has left many growers in multiple crops scrambling to find alternatives. The options vary depending on the crop.
“The impact of the loss of chlorpyrifos to sugar beet growers is substantial,” says Gregg Harman, Vice President Ag Retail/Wholesale at Land View, Inc. “The list keeps shrinking. In southern Idaho, root maggot can put intense pressure on sugar beets. The loss of chlorpyrifos really minimizes the choices sugar beet growers have on what they can use. AgLogic aldicarb can and will play an important role in controlling these pest pressures.”
Sugar beet root maggot can be one of the most destructive pests in sugar beet production, feeding on roots during its three larval stages. Yield and sucrose content are diminished, and stands can be significantly reduced by damage to the taproot.
The pest can be very difficult to predict from year-to-year. Multiple factors such as weather, prior crop rotations and even irrigation can impact the severity of the problem.
“Sugar beet root maggot can have a significant negative impact on yields,” Wenninger says. “That impact varies from year to year, but it’s something you absolutely have to watch for every season.”
AgLogic aldicarb, formerly marketed as Temik, has been a mainstay for sugar beet root maggot control for most of the 50 years it has been registered. It was briefly unavailable from 2010-2016.
“Most sugar beet growers remember and have had experience with aldicarb under the brand name Temik over the years,” Harman says. “They understand how effective it is. When it was unavailable for several years, they were forced to move to other chemistries like chlorpyrifos. Now that one is gone, but they have AgLogic aldicarb again to fill the void, and it has a long history of proven performance.”
On Dec. 7, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. Clyo, Georgia time, Clayton Waller parked his cotton picker, filed some miscellaneous paperwork and headed to town to tackle the one thing woefully behind schedule — a haircut. After a long harvest, he was getting a little shaggy, and everyone around him seemed to agree.
Waller grows cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat (100% dryland) with his father near Clyo, 40 miles north of Savannah. All things considered, 2021 was a reasonably productive year.
“The weather cooperated for the most part,” Waller says. “You can hope and ask and pray for a lot of things going into a growing season, but if you’re a dryland farmer, weather is always the critical variable.”
Since a grower can’t control the weather, it always comes down to managing inputs. For Waller, that begins with an honest review of his production strategy by considering the previous season and the many seasons that came before.
“Like any grower who has been in this business for decades or generations, one of the advantages of experience is hindsight,” he says.
“Since I was a little kid, I knew that getting a crop to jump out of the ground and race toward the finish was what you wanted it to do,” he says. “A lot of variables factor into that process, and early season pest control is one of the most critical.”
There are at least two early season pests with a couple of b-team insects Waller knows he can count on to show up to wreak havoc — nematodes and thrips. Then there are pesky aphids and mites. “Nematodes and thrips are the ones that will keep you awake at night wondering if your little plants are happy and growing,” he says.
For the past two years, Waller has returned to a tried and true at-planting input to manage early season pests — AgLogic aldicarb pesticide. Formerly marketed as Temik, the in-furrow granular pesticide has more than 50 years of scientific proof to back performance claims.
Root-knot nematodes are a constant nemesis along the Georgia coastal watershed. There are a lot of advantages to living close to the beach, but nematodes flourishing in sandy soils isn’t on the list.
“A few million years ago, this farm was most likely a place you would traverse via boat, not by a planter,” Waller says. “Sand is a reality and root-knot nematodes love it. It’s a never-ending fight to keep them at bay.”
That’s where AgLogic aldicarb shines when the planter hits the field, according to Waller. “You can use treated seed, resistant or tolerant varieties or anything else you can think of, but AgLogic is the one thing that really stands out year after year,” he says.
That became apparent about the third year Temik (now AgLogic) was temporarily unavailable, according to Waller. In the absence of an in-furrow nematicide/insecticide, crop vigor, especially during the early season, began to noticeably decline, particularly in the sandier portions of fields.
“There was no doubt it was due to nematodes,” Waller says. “During those years, we just didn’t have our ‘go-to’ product to take them out of the equation. When aldicarb became available again under the name AgLogic and we started using it again, we saw above the soil surface what was going on in the root zone.”
Another problematic issue in the absence of aldicarb was thrips. “You know they’re coming,” Waller says. “They eat up your cotton and your time trying to manage them — especially if you have to resort to spraying when every other problem is going crazy. An in-furrow insecticide that gives you about six weeks of control makes it a lot easier.”
Treated seed is an option, and foliars will help, but there is no substitute for knowing what’s going to work.
“When we lost Temik aldicarb for a few years, we were stuck in a rut,” Waller says. “We couldn’t yield anything above an average of 700-750 pounds per acre for our entire planted acres at best. We might have some spots where cotton yielded over 1,000 pounds per acre. But other spots or fields would barely make 450 pounds in the same year. Now with AgLogic aldicarb we’re looking at yields that average 150-300 pounds higher across the board.
This increase could pay for a much-needed trip to the barber. And a trip to the beach to visit sand where it belongs.
Greenhouse research is an important component of the overall nematicide research conducted by Dr. Travis Faske, professor and Extension plant pathologist, University of Arkansas Lonoke Extension Center — photo by Brenda Carol
Sample In The Fall For Yield-Robbing Nematodes
It’s not a particularly new story. Almost any farmer will tell you what you already know: Nematodes are yield robbers.
It’s been researched, extensively documented and replicated in experimental trials for decades. It’s been broadcast through the Extension service, the ag media and grower meetings.
Why it’s still taking a toll on modern agriculture is somewhat confounding.
“Sometimes I think it’s mostly a matter of ‘what I don’t see isn’t hurting me,’” says Dr. Travis Faske, professor and Extension plant pathologist with the University of Arkansas Lonoke Extension Center. “When it comes to insects, even though they’re tiny, you can see thrips and definitely see the damage on the leaves. Root pests tend to be a different matter.”
Even if a farmer digs up roots to examine what’s going on, it still might not be obvious. “I think most growers are well aware at this point that root-knot nematode forms galls on roots, which are easy to visually detect if you’re looking,” he says. “However, you can’t see the infection with reniform nematode and some of the other nematode species.”
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Because reniform nematode is not immediately apparent, the problem can go undetected for years.
“A grower might notice a spot in the field that’s having a problem and write it off to a problem with irrigation, pesticide application or soil type,” Faske says. “Root-knot thrives in sandier soils, even sandier spots in a field. Reniform is a little sneakier. It usually shows up as a gradual overall demise of crop productivity over a number of seasons.”
That’s why soil sampling is a grower’s best diagnostic tool. Soil samples pulled in the fall can help growers plan intelligently for the following spring.
“If you don’t know if you have a problem or the extent of the problem, you’re either shooting in the dark at an unknown target, or even worse, not shooting at all,” Faske says. “There are many different options for nematode management on the market, and more are becoming available every year. It could be a soil-applied nematicide, a seed treatment, a tolerant variety, or even a rotational strategy or a combination of one or more options.”
As an Extension plant pathologist, Faske evaluates the efficacy of nematicides, seed treatments and tolerant varieties each season. It’s painstaking, methodical work, but over the years researchers across the Cotton Belt have developed a wealth of information to help growers address one of the most insidious yield robbers a cotton plant encounters.
“We have field trials and greenhouse trials,” Faske says. “In the field, we plant trials in known nematode infested fields and measure the results in a ‘real-world’ environment. In the greenhouse, it’s a lot more controlled, and we know exactly what we are subjecting a cotton seedling to in a small growing space.”
For greenhouse trials, the nematodes are first cultured on tomato. Those nematode isolates are then transferred to individual trays where various varieties of crop seed are planted into the infested soil medium.
Every season Faske and his colleagues evaluate numerous nematicides for efficacy. Those options run the gamut from the tried and true to the experimental and everything in-between.
“There are nematicides such as aldicarb, formerly sold under the brand name Temik and now AgLogic, that we include in our field trials every year,” Faske says. “In terms of non-fumigant nematicides, it is the gold standard for nematode control across a wide range of species. After more than 45 years of data, it’s hard to argue with its performance, so it always provides an excellent benchmark.”
As growers eye the 2021 finish line, nematologists, consultants and Extension agents are ringing that all-important reminder bell once again: Sample fields for nematodes and pay attention to the latest research with an eye on the past.
“There’s no point on compromising next year’s yield when it’s relatively easy to evaluate the upcoming risk in 2022 with a soil sample now and progressively formulate a plan,” Faske says.
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.
“In both crops, it helps us immensely with nematode control as well as thrips control,” he says. “In terms of nematodes, it picks up a wide range of species, so it’s useful on all of our soil types.”
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.