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South Texas farmers dealing with stinkbugs 

Posted at 1:24 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 14:29:45-04

A few months back many South Texas farmers were stuck on the sidelines because wet fields and cool soil temperatures kept them from starting their planting season.

Things did finally dry out, and farmers are feeling optimistic about this crop season.

Now they are dealing with another issue “Bugs.”

That pest is the Stinkbug. Many of the species can feed on several types of crops, such as cotton, wheat, sorghum, and canola.

“In normal situations, insects come into various crops, and they can continuously reduce the yield if they are not taken care of. You take the stinkbug, and we are looking at half to one stinkbug per one to two heads is what we consider an economic threshold. That means they are going in there and hurting the production, seed production or bowl production,” said San Patricio County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent Bobby McCool.

Many South Texas farmers will be the first to say if they did not have to spray for bugs they wouldn’t. But if they don’t spray, they will lose more than just some of their crops.

“It is not cheap to go in there and take care of these insects. We are talking anywhere from $10 plus per acre so if a producer has 2,500 acres of cotton, just for instance, you are looking at $25,000 per shot of insecticide over that crop. It is just an economic decision they have to make on a daily basis” said McCool.

When the farmers are done spraying for pests, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center helps them recycle their plastic pesticide containers.

“On these containers, there is a company called USAG recycling who is supported by ACRC which is the AG container recycling council. They do come by on a periodic basis and pick up these empty containers. Here in San Patricio County we normally have two collect days a year, usually in June and October. We collect normally anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 jugs along with some barrels and cut up totes,” said McCool.

The number of plastic containers collected over the past few years has steadily increased so it has been a good thing for Ag production.

Insects are already gorging themselves on those wild plants and now moving over to domestic crops.

For more information, call San Patricio County Extension office at (361) 587-3400.