Farmers have enjoyed the benefits of Bt corn since its introduction in 1996, particularly “in the bag” transgenic protection from insect pests and the yield loss they inflict. European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, was particularly challenging and the target of the first Bt hybrids. The adoption of Bt corn in the U.S. prompted a widespread suppression of ECB. Even so, ECB still shows up in conventional cornfields in Iowa and can be a devastating pest.
Integrated Crop Management News
Links to these articles are strongly encouraged. Articles may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If articles are used in any other manner, permission from the author is required.
Several Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists have reported fields with high numbers of grubs this spring. There are a number of grub species in Iowa, including Japanese beetle. With warm temperatures accelerating insect development, expect adult Japanese beetles to begin emergence in southern Iowa counties this weekend (Figure 1). The emergence is about 7-10 days ahead of the last few years. 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.
Corn rootworm egg hatch in Iowa occurs from late May to the middle of June, with an average peak hatching date of June 6 in central Iowa. In 2020, the expected 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 will reach peak corn rootworm egg hatch in 5-7 days (Figure 1).
Alfalfa weevils aren’t the only insect pest being found in alfalfa fields this spring. Reports of aphids, particularly cowpea aphids and pea aphids, have been made around the state. This article will discuss identifying the common aphid species found in Iowa as well as scouting and management recommendations for aphids in alfalfa.
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.
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.