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Longer, Dryer Season Creates Pest Problem for Farmers

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email

Farming is a risky and uncertain business.

Fortunately, army worms are not posing as much of a threat this season.

"They were really bad last year, we'd spray them and you just could not get a kill on army worms last year and they just kept coming back time and time again," says farmer Craig Bishop.

This year's efforts to prevent army worms seem to be working, but other pests like stink bugs and plant bugs are showing up instead.

"Normally we see plant bugs along the Alabama line but because of our weather patterns, cropping structures, for some reason this year, we're seeing them intermittently throughout the county."

Jackson County Pest Agent Clyde Smith says the crop's age determines how it will react with pests.

Farmers have been spreading out their cotton and peanut planting this year, which causes tiny bugs like 'thrips,' that are about a sixteenth of an inch long, to be more of an issue.

"Normally by the time it puts on five leaves, it's fine, this year, I had some 10 and 12 leaves of cotton that showed very severe thrip injury, very difficult to control."

Dry weather conditions have compounded the problem.

"Weather is always a big issue for us because we're never more than three days away from a drought here in some part of the county. We notice the pests but the pest problems are exacerbated by the dry weather and so right now we haven't had a good rain in a couple of months."

"Water right now is probably our biggest concern."

For now, Bishop is running this center pivot irrigation system non-stop, but he says some rain would help.

Water supply will play a crucial role for the next 3-4 weeks when cotton and peanut plants reach their peak.


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