Most Iowa corn fields have several different species of plant-parasitic nematodes present at low numbers. It’s only when numbers occur at damaging levels that symptoms appear and damage occurs. The potential for plant-parasitic nematodes that feed on corn to cause yield reductions warrants attention. This article discusses when and how to sample for plant-parasitic nematodes that can damage corn.
Integrated Crop Management News
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One of the easiest and cheapest ways to check a field for SCN is to dig roots and look for females of the nematode. This can be done now through mid August. The SCN females will be small, white, round objects on the roots and are much smaller and lighter in color than nitrogen-fixing nodules that occur on healthy soybean roots. Digging roots and looking for SCN females also is a way to check whether resistant varieties are performing effectively.
In 2019, numerous field edges were infested with common stalk borer. Tracking degree days is a useful tool to estimate when common stalk borer larvae begin moving into cornfields from their overwintering hosts. Foliar insecticide applications, if needed, are only effective when larvae are migrating and exposed to the insecticide. Start scouting corn for larvae when 1,300-1,400 degree days (base 41°F) have accumulated. Much of Iowa has reached this important benchmark (Figure 1), and therefore scouting for migrating larvae should begin now to make timely treatment decisions.
Iowa State University (ISU) research has evaluated corn and soybean response to preplant potassium (K) fertilizer placement methods and starter since the middle 1990s. These results have been used for developing guidelines in Extension publication PM 1688. In recent years, excessive fall and spring rainfall sometimes has precluded the normal K preplant fertilization. Therefore, growers and crop consultants have been asking if sidedressed liquid K fertilizer could alleviate deficiency or be a good complement to preplant K fertilization, as is commonly the case for nitrogen.
With planting wrapping up and crops beginning to emerge, now is the time to start scouting fields regularly throughout the growing season for any potential issues. Scouting fields and monitoring crops throughout the growing season can help you make more informed management decisions and stay on top of potential issues that may come up during the growing season. Even if some issues cannot be fixed, regular scouting can help us better understand what happened in the field and make adjustments to reduce issues in the future.
Every spring, alfalfa growth and development differs due to variations in climatic, variety, stand age and other crop production factors. With the 2020 growing season being off to a cooler than normal start, alfalfa growth is also off to a slower start this spring. This is a good reminder that while calendar date is one method used to determine when to harvest first crop alfalfa, it is not the best method to use. Instead, the PEAQ method (Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality) developed by the University of Wisconsin does a better job.
Black cutworm (BCW) is a migratory pest that arrives in Iowa with spring storms each year. BCW moths lay eggs in and near crop fields, and larvae can cut corn seedlings or feed on leaves. Even though crops were planted earlier this year than previous years, cold temperatures may slow growth and allow BCW larvae to coincide with early vegetative corn that is vulnerable to BCW injury.
Adult alfalfa weevils become active and start laying eggs as soon as temperatures exceed 48°F. Like other insects, the development of alfalfa weevil depends on temperature and we can rely on the accumulation of growing degree days (GDD) to predict activity. Alfalfa weevil egg hatching begins when 200-300 degree days have accumulated since January 1.
Pesticide applicators and handlers need to wear, at a minimum, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) specified on pesticide product labels. Most pesticide labels require a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Proper laundering of work clothes that may be contaminated with pesticide residues is essential to reduce pesticide handlers’ short- and long-term exposure to pesticides and prevent the potential of residue cross-contamination onto other clothing.
Bean leaf beetle adults (Photo 1) are susceptible to cold weather and most 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 their overwintering habitat and migrate to available hosts, such as alfalfa, tick trefoil, and various clovers. As the season progresses, bean leaf beetles move to soybean and other hosts. While adult activity can begin before soybean emergence, peak abundance often coincides with early-vegetative soybean.