It can affect populations of specific insect pests. Here are effects of some common cultural practices:
Fall stalk destruction — Destroying stalks as soon as possible after harvest helps reduce populations of overwintered boll weevils dramatically. Fall tillage — Budworms/bollworms overwinter as pupae 1 to 3 inches deep in the soil. Fall tillage destroys some pupae and disrupts exit tunnels, reducing numbers that emerge from overwintering.
Spring tillage — Destroying weeds and/or cover crops by tillage or herbicide at least 3 weeks before planting minimizes risk of cutworm problems. Tilling in early spring, before April 15, will also destroy many overwintering tobacco budworm and bollworm pupae.
No-till Planting — No-till planting has both negative and positive effects on cotton insect populations. Fields planted no-till are at greater risk for cutworm infestations. They are much more likely to have stand-threatening infestations of occasional early-season seedling pests, such as grasshoppers, false chinch bugs, and a variety of other pests. Scout fields planted no-till very frequently during the first 3 to 4 weeks after emergence. One of the most significant features of no-till production is the establishment of high populations of fire ants.
Plant stand density — Excessive plant stand density can result in delayed fruit initiation and delayed maturity, increasing exposure to late-season insects.
Early Maturity — Early-maturing crops are more likely to escape attack/damage from late-season infestations of tobacco budworms, bollworms, armyworms, loopers, and other pests. Cultural practices such as excessive nitrogen use, late irrigation, or excessive stand density can result in delayed maturity and increased exposure to late-season insects.
Insecticide treatment termination — End insecticide treatments for tobacco budworms, bollworms, and other pests as soon as crop maturity monitoring, indicates the crop is reasonably safe from further damage. This step will reduce insecticide use, control costs, and reduce future insecticide resistance.
Border Vegetation Management — Plant bugs can build up on flowering plants growing around field borders. They may move into cotton fields when the flowering plants are destroyed or begin to dry up. Timely mowing of such areas can help reduce available hosts for plant bugs. Mow before cotton is established. Mowing after these weed hosts begin forming flower buds will only force plant bugs into nearby cotton. Wild geranium is an important spring host of tobacco budworms, and controlling it by mowing or displacing it with a non-host plant may help reduce tobacco budworm populations. Caution: do not spray field borders with insecticides. Such use is not labeled and may worsen pesticide resistance.