Now is a great time to scout for Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) in Iowa crop fields. As of late 2018, this species had been identified in over half of Iowa’s 99 counties. While new identifications have waned since the widespread introductions in 2016, Palmer amaranth is a species to watch out for in virtually any Iowa crop field.
Integrated Crop Management News
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Western and northern corn rootworm are major corn pests in Iowa and surrounding states (Photos 1 and 2). Farmers have seen several management changes, including the release of four Bt-rootworm traits to suppress corn rootworm larvae since 2003. Although both species are persistent pests, western corn rootworm is particularly adaptable. The Gassmann Lab at Iowa State University (ISU) has confirmed western corn rootworm resistance to all Bt rootworm traits in Iowa.
There have been some reports of potato leafhopper activity and plant injury in Iowa alfalfa this season. Some fields experienced winter injury and the cooler spring provided a slow start to plant growth in 2019. It is time to think about assessing alfalfa stands. Potato leafhoppers (Photo 1) do not overwinter in Iowa, but they are persistent alfalfa pests every growing season. Storms along the Gulf of Mexico bring adult potato leafhoppers north and drop them into fields every spring.
Those looking for any piece of good news in all of the rain-soaked suffering that has occurred in 2019 have asked “Will all this rain and flooding drown SCN”? Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” The reasons why are explained. And a small bit of good news about the wet growing season and SCN is offered up in this article as well.
In-season plant tissue testing can be useful in diagnosing nutrient deficiencies in field crops, but it must be used with caution. Extra care is needed this year given the unusual crop planting and growing conditions.
Corn rootworm egg hatch in Iowa typically occurs from late May to the middle of June, with an average peak hatching date of June 6 in central Iowa. In 2019, the average hatching date will be behind the average, due to cool spring temperatures. Development is driven by soil temperature and measured by growing degree days. Research suggests about 50% of egg hatch occurs between 684-767 accumulated degree days (base 52°F, soil). Most areas in Iowa have reached peak corn rootworm egg hatch (Fig. 1).
Within the last week, I have heard about higher-than-normal stalk borer infestations along field margins compared to previous years. According to degree-day tracking of 2019, the caterpillars should be moving from overwintering hosts to corn throughout Iowa this week.
Several reports from ISU Field Agronomists have indicated Japanese beetles are emerging in southern Iowa. The emergence is about 7-10 days behind the last few years, due to slowly accumulating degree days in 2019. Literature shows Japanese beetle adults need about 1,030 growing degree days (base 50°F) to complete development and will continue emergence until around 2,150 degree days. Based on accumulating degree-day temperatures in 2019, Japanese beetle adults should be active in some areas of southern Iowa this week (Figure 1).
Last year, the widespread outbreak of soybean gall midge took many farmers and entomologists by surprise. There was significant field edge injury and economic loss in at least 65 counties in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and South Dakota. A small team organized a concerted effort to learn more about the life cycle, biology and management of soybean gall midge in 2019. The first step was to establish emergence cages in various habitat types to better understand where they overwinter.
With the crops of Iowa in the ground, it is time to start thinking about seedling diseases. The Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic is a resource for corn and soybean growers assessing their field throughout the season.
Making a diagnosis
The first step in managing a plant problem is to know what is causing the symptoms observed. Accurate pathogen or insect pest identification is one of the most important integrated pest management (IPM) tactics leading to a successful management strategy.