How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines


Selecting the Field

(Reviewed 5/13, updated 5/13)

In this Guideline:

Choose fields for cotton planting carefully. A field's cropping history is important. Cotton planted in fields infested with cotton pests or in fields with poor nutrient balance will suffer yield loss. Also, keep in mind the crops surrounding your cotton fields. Do they harbor pests of cotton such as whitefly or lygus bugs? Carefully planned cultural practices in adjacent crops can help you reduce pest pressures in cotton. Use the checklists below when selecting fields for cotton planting.

Check soil records or perform soil assays for:

Nutrients Assay for nitrogen content annually. Consider assaying for potassium, which changes slowly and is needed less often.
Soil type Identify soil type. Clay loam to loam soils are generally the most productive soils in the San Joaquin Valley. Sandier soils usually have higher root knot nematode populations.
Root knot nematodes Assay for nematodes before planting cotton directly after another crop. See details in Integrated Pest Management for Cotton.

Check records for:

Agronomic information Determine past cotton varieties that have been planted and their planting and harvest dates and yields. See if the field has supported successful production.
Weeds Survey weeds in the spring before planting. This is crucial for the selecting an appropriate preplant herbicide or rotational crop.
Cropping history Identify previous crops that are known hosts of cotton pests.
Surrounding crops Check for cultivated crops such as alfalfa, safflower, sugarbeet, potato, and sunflower; all harbor lygus bugs.
Presence of pests such as: Lygus bug Manage adjacent alfalfa for lygus bug control.
Sweetpotato whitefly Plant cotton at least 1/2 mile upwind from other key whitefly hosts such as melons and cole crops.
Root knot nematode Check population levels with soil sampling. See the pest management guideline and the cotton IPM manual for more details.
Verticillium wilt inoculum Use results from soil or stem sampling (percent discoloration) taken preharvest or at harvest to determine the need for tolerant cotton or rotational crop.
Fusarium wilt inoculum Manage nematodes for race 1 Fusarium control. For race 1 and race 4 use Fusarium-free seed produced in disease-free fields. Avoid using gin trash in cotton fields.


[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Cotton
UC ANR Publication 3444

General Information

  • L. D. Godfrey, Entomology, UC Davis
  • P. B. Goodell, UC IPM Program and Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier
  • E. T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension - Desert Research and Extension Center, Imperial County
  • D.R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County and UC IPM Program
  • V. M. Barlow, UC Cooperative Extension, Riverside County and UC IPM Program

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