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Don’t get pecked: Stink bugs can still cause problems on rice
Author: Gus Lorenz, Extension Entomologist

Although the rice stink bug numbers have moderated from the extremely high numbers we saw on early headed fields, we are still seeing stink bugs in many fields that are in the last two weeks of heading.  In many cases, kernels at the far end of the panicle may already be at the hard dough stage.  Current numbers are at very manageable levels, and overall I have received very few calls on applications not doing what they should.  Many fields are in the third and fourth week of heading. At this stage the threshold is one rice stink bug per sweep, or 10 per 10 sweeps.  This is the stage where we are watching for developing stink bug numbers and treating as needed to avoid “pecky” rice.  There are still a lot of fields that have not even headed yet.  These are the fields that got hammered the last few years.  As early-planted rice fields mature, stink bugs will leave those fields in search of greener, late-maturing fields.  As we transition into this situation, continue to scout closely and treat as needed.  Remember, fields can quickly get covered up with stink bugs; in a matter of only 2-3 days numbers can go from low to extremely high as we have already seen this year.  Pyrethroids appear to be working very well.  When numbers are high use the higher labeled rate, and with the high heat (which I am getting real tired of), we recommend 5 GPA and consider an adjuvant/ crop oil to help application.

“When can I stop spraying / protecting my rice from stink bugs?” is a question that starts coming up right now as early fields begin to mature.   As long as rice is in the soft dough stage it is still susceptible to damage from stink bugs.  Because of differences in maturity within a field and even on a panicle, this can be a very difficult call.  What you need to do is determine the percentage of rice in the field that is still susceptible to damage.  Is the field fairly uniform or do you have those parts of the field that are behind or late?  On each panicle, what percentage of kernels are hard dough and what percentage are still susceptible (soft dough)?  How bad are the stink bugs?  Are stink bugs at threshold, 2X threshold, 10X threshold?  These are the questions you’ll have to answer if you call….Be prepared.  Be logical.

Scout closely and regularly, spray as needed, and don’t just spray because other folks are – their rice may be at treatment level and yours may not.  No one needs to be anxious to spray;  we’ve had plenty of opportunity and will have for a while this season.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for cooler weather.  Just remember, “hard dough let it go.”

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