Thrips are early-season pests of cotton and can cause yield and stand losses if not managed. Strip tillage into a winter cover crop, use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment, and foliar insecticide applications are all reliable pest management tactics, but how these methods interact with each other in a thrip–cotton agroecosystem needs to be further understood. A 2-yr field study was conducted to compare thrip counts and thrip-induced plant injury as a function of tillage practice (conventional vs strip tillage with heavy rolled rye), thiamethoxam seed treatment, and foliar insecticide application for managing thrips in cotton. Adult and nymph density, seedling biomass, true leaf formation, stand count, and lint yield were assessed. Results indicate that heavy rolled rye was effective for mitigating thrips on seedling cotton. On conventionally tilled fields, the neonicotinoid seed treatment and a foliar insecticide application were necessary for maximizing yield. Spinetoram was more efficacious than either acephate or cyantraniliprole for management of immature thrips; however, there were no yield effects attributed to foliar insecticide application. These data suggest that growers can mitigate early-season thrips using both cultural and chemically based management tactics.