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Funded Project
Funding Program: Enhancement Grants - Special Projects
Project Title: Development, Production and Distribution of a Pocket-sized Field Instrument to Improve Stink Bug Management on Cotton in the Southeast Region
Project Directors (PDs):
Jack Bacheler [1]
Ames Herbert [2]
Phillip Roberts [3]
Jeremy Greene [4]
Michael Dennis Toews [5]
Lead State: NC

Lead Organization: North Carolina State University
Cooperating State(s): Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia
Funding: $25,000
Start Date: Mar-01-2010

End Date: Feb-28-2011
Pests Involved: Green (Acrosternum hilare), Southern green (nezara
Site/Commodity: Cotton
Area of Emphasis: scouting
Summary: This project will address the need for a practical stink bug field scouting and economic threshold assessment guide for southeastern cotton producers. In this collaborative effort of entomologists from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, our goals are to increase the amount of cotton acreage being scouted for stink bug damage in the Southeast Region, to increase the ease, efficiency and accuracy of scouting for stink bug damage, and to increase the adoption of the new dynamic economic threshold for stink bugs in the Southeast Region.

A five year collaborative effort (2005-2009) among southeastern cotton entomologists that addressed stink bug biology, feeding damage relationships, dispersal patterns, and scouting and threshold development resulted in the development of a dynamic economic threshold based on internal bug-induced boll damage, and new scouting procedures. We propose to develop, produce and distribute a plastic pocket-sized field instrument that will promote adoption of these new techniques. It will provide the new thresholds, list scouting procedures, provide insertion holes to select the correct boll size range for damage assessments, and contain images of internal and external boll damage. The funding will allow for printing and distribution to county agents, producers, industry personnel, and cotton scout stakeholders throughout the Southeast Region. This guide should significantly improve management of stink bugs in cotton, and in turn, result in reduced and more efficient use of cotton insecticides in the Southeast. Additionally, a companion web-based and hard copy fact sheet will be developed to teach clientèle about the use and advantages of adopting this new scouting template.

Objectives: 1. Increase the amount of cotton acreage being scouted for stink bug damage in the Southeast Region
2. Increase the ease, efficiency and accuracy of scouting for stink bug damage
3. Increase the adoption of the new dynamic economic threshold for stink bugs in the Southeast Region

Final Report:

In a survey sent to all licensed independent crop consultants who worked on cotton, eighty one percent reported using the stink bug card regularly during the 2011growing season. The card received a mean rating of 8.5 among the users (useless was assigned a zero rating and 10 indicated extremely useful). If only 20% of North Carolinas cotton producers used this device in 2011, given average stink bug levels, the economic return from using the card would have resulted in a profit advantage of more than 13 million in excess of using the previous 20% internal boll damage threshold. If similar adoption levels took place in VA, SC, GA and AL, the 2011 savings from the use of this card would be in excess of 30 million. In addition to the adoption of the dynamic threshold and the widespread use of the field decision aid cards among southeastern consultants and producers, the economic value of this tool would have been far greater if one compared the use of the card to either automatic calendar sprays or overlooking stink bug damage.
What Has Been Done: As a result of the first collaborative regional grant funded by Cotton Incorporated via the Southeastern State Support Committee from 2005 to 2007, Identifying Practical Knowledge and Solutions for Managing the Sucking-Bug Complex in Cotton: Research in the Southeast Region, our project developed the concept of a dynamic threshold which based treatment on plant vulnerability to boll damage as a function of week of bloom. A series of 47 threshold evaluation tests, comparing this threshold with those in common use at the time, was conducted in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia 2007 through 2009. The dynamic threshold showed a profit advantage of $7.50 to $30.00 (depending on stink bug levels) compared with the static 20% boll damage static threshold previously used in our region. What was lacking, however, was a simple portable device to provide producers and consultants with a toll to make accurate straightforward stink bug management decisions.

A Capstone Grant from the Southern Regional IPM Center answered the need for a simple boll assessment tool to introduce the dynamic threshold to producers, agents and cotton scouts. Our project developed a 3x6-inch plastic Stink Bug Decision Aid field card, which provided 1) an outline of scouting procedures, 2) a table of the thresholds by week of bloom, 3) cutouts for selecting the correct boll size, and 4) color images of internal boll damage. This field card was designed, produced and distributed by our project to throughout the southeastern states in 2010 (1,500 cards produced for use in NC, 500 for VA, 750 for SC, and 2,000 for GA) and expanded to all Midsouth states, Texas and Oklahoma in 2011. A survey of all licensed crop consultants in NC was undertaken by our project in 2011 to determine the degree of field card adoption and usefulness

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