Plant bugs, worms, pigweed and irrigation are the big four concerns in agriculture right now, Craighead County Extension Staff Chairman Branon Thiesse said Thursday afternoon.

Plant bugs are showing up, and "we're still fighting pigweeds," he said. "Some fields got a little sand damage before the rain Monday."

There has previously been sand damage, particularly in cotton fields. And there hasn't been enough rain in most places, officials said.

"We're starting to see yellow stripe armyworms in soybeans," Thiesse added. There are a lot of young soybeans, and "armyworms can get in young beans and overwhelm them in a hurry."

Defoliation has been noted below 40 percent. Thiesse said typically soybeans at this stage can withstand that much defoliation by the worms, but "we are recommending that if a grower is getting ready to spray Roundup, to go ahead and put something in the tank to also take care of the worms."

"We've seen a huge outbreak of yellow stripe armyworms in soybeans this week, along with increasing bollworm numbers in fields, too," said Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension integrated pest management specialist. "They're developing in small beans. Armyworms are kind of in clumped distribution, with some spots in the field hit worse than others.

"Right now we're seeing defoliation from 10 to 60 percent, with 35 to 40 percent being our general threshold for treatment. This isn't just something in South Arkansas. We're seeing it up through Poinsett and Lee counties. The bollworms indicate that we've got a pretty good flight with this generation and that the next wave will be one to remember."

Lorenz attended an integrated pest management meeting in Bay on Thursday.

Thiesse said cotton is about three weeks behind a typical year, thanks to heavy rains that prevented planting, as well as the subsequent hot, dry weather that prevented proper irrigation.

"There's been a lot of unusual things happen this year," he said.

Extension Cotton Specialist Tom Barber said heat and wind that has caused sand damage and hail accompanying sudden thunderstorms have all damaged crops in various parts of the state.

"We lost another 2,000 acres of cotton last Friday, I'm afraid," Barber said in an AgFax media report Thursday. "More than 100 pivots were turned over in that storm earlier in the month in Northeast Arkansas, and there are crews from all over the country trying to get those systems replaced or repaired."

He said some Pix is going on cotton in South Arkansas, and blooms are starting.

Soybeans are also under pressure from pests.

"Worms became the big focus in soybeans at the beginning of this week," said Lance Honeycutt of Jimmy Sanders Inc., Jonesboro, in the Thursday AgFax Media report. "Armyworms are doing damage. It's not widespread, but you can find spots that they're hitting. They're affecting the younger beans, the plants that are 3 to 4 inches tall. In soybeans a foot or taller the plants are staying ahead of them. We're spot spraying in places, depending on the situation, or adding a pyrethroid to Roundup.

"We're finding corn earworms ... but haven't seen enough foliage damage to spray them. But finding corn earworms now is an indication, I'm afraid, that we could be dealing with them when beans start podding. Most of our corn is fully tasseled, and we're making determinations about fungicides."