The effects of planting dates 2–3-wk apart on boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), field-level populations, and feeding and oviposition damage to cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., squares and bolls, were studied during 2002 and 2003 in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Squares were 44–56% more abundant in some later planted treatments than in the earlier planted treatments, but mean cumulative numbers of oviposition- and feeding-damaged squares were 2.7–4.8-fold greater in some later planted treatments than in earlier treatments. Increased square production in later planted cotton was offset by boll weevil infestations that occurred when squares are most vulnerable and contribute most toward the pest’s reproduction. Early planting avoided boll weevil population buildups in the field when large squares were abundant. Lint yields in 2002 did not differ significantly between the planting date treatments, but in 2003, mean yield in the middle treatment was 23% greater than in the early and late-planted treatments. Insecticide sprays in the earliest planted treatment of each year, based on the 10% damaged squares threshold, were >33% and >43% fewer than in the corresponding middle and latest planting treatments, respectively. Delayed planting, relative to the onset of favorable cotton-growing weather, at the field level, even when not applied uniformly on an areawide scale, is more cost-effective than planting too early or too late.
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Vol. 98 • No. 3