The black cutworm (BCW) is a migratory pest that cuts and feeds on early vegetative-stage corn. Black cutworm moths arrive in Iowa and other northern states with spring storms each year. These moths lay eggs in and around crop fields and emerging BCW larvae cut seedling corn. This pest is sporadic, making it essential to scout fields to determine if management is needed. Scouting for BCW larvae helps to determine if an insecticide application will be cost effective.
Integrated Crop Management News
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Iowa’s most significant soybean insect pest, soybean aphid, has host-alternating biology. This species has multiple, overlapping generations on soybean in the summer and moves to buckthorn in the winter. Fall migration to buckthorn is based on senescing soybean, and decreasing temperatures and photoperiod. For the majority of the year, soybean aphids are cold-hardy eggs near buckthorn buds (Photo 1). As spring temperatures warm up, soybean aphid eggs hatch and produce a few generations on buckthorn before moving to soybean (Photo 2). Tilmon et al.
Adult alfalfa weevils become active and start laying eggs as soon as temperatures exceed 48°F. Alfalfa weevil eggs develop based on temperature, or accumulating degree days, and hatching can start around 200-300 degree days. Start scouting alfalfa fields south of Interstate 80 at 200 degree days and fields north of Interstate 80 at 250 degree days. Based on accumulated temperatures since January, weevils could be active throughout southern Iowa this weekend (Fig. 1).
Bean leaf beetle adults (Photo 1) are susceptible to cold weather and most will die when air temperatures fall below 14°F (-10°C). However, they have adapted to winter by protecting themselves under plant debris and loose soil. Each spring, adult beetles emerge from overwintering habitat and migrate to available hosts, such as alfalfa, tick trefoil, and various clovers. As the season progresses, bean leaf beetles move to preferred hosts, like soybean. While initial adult activity can begin before soybean emergence, peak abundance often coincides with early-vegetative soybean.
With delayed spring weather and low or uncertain grain prices, farmers and crop consultants are asking questions about starter fertilizer for corn this spring. The placement of small amounts of plant nutrients in bands offset to the side and below the seed row or in the seed furrow increases the concentration of nutrients near seedling roots. Common starter fertilizers have nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) and sometimes sulfur (S) or micronutrients.
Seedcorn maggot is a seed and seedling pest of corn and soybean. Plant injury is especially prevalent during cool and wet springs. The larvae, or maggots, feed on germinating corn and soybean seeds or seedlings (Photo 1). They can feed on the embryo, delay development or kill the plant. Infestations tend to be field-wide instead of grouped together like many other pests. To confirm seedcorn maggot injury, check field areas with stand loss and look for maggots, pupae and damaged seeds (e.g., hollowed out seeds or poorly developing seedlings).
Before making pesticide applications this year check the FieldWatch® online registry so you are aware of sensitive crops and beehives in the area. In 2017 the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Pesticide Bureau received a record number of complaints regarding pesticide applications. Taking the time to review what is near a field prior to applications can help mitigate future problems.
Winter seems to be never ending, and spring not arriving. This could lead to a compressed period for field work before corn planting begins. There are conversations underway about switching planned spring preplant anhydrous ammonia to another nitrogen (N) product like urea-ammonium nitrate solution (28 or 32% UAN) or granulated urea. And likely discussions about changing from preplant to sidedress applications. What should be considered?
Corn row spacing and plant population have been the focus of many studies throughout the years in an effort to identify ways to increase yields and minimize production costs. Many studies have shown that there was a yield increase going from a 40-inch row spacing to a 30-inch row spacing. Studies had varying results when it comes to less than a 30-inch row spacing. In some cases, row spacing has had no effect on yield whereas others have seen anywhere from a 2-7% increase in yield by narrowing row spacing from the more common 30-inch.
Row spacing is a management decision that often comes up as a priority for achieving high-yielding soybean. Research across the Midwest over several years has consistently shown that soybean planted in narrow rows (<30 inches) has a yield advantage compared to wide rows (≥ 30 inches). The primary reason for this advantage is light utilization; canopy closure is approximately 15 days earlier in 15-inch rows compared to 30-inch rows. Canopy closure earlier in the growing season results in greater light interception and higher growth ra