Integrated Crop Management News

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Aphids Showing up in Alfalfa

May 18, 2022
Common aphids in Iowa alfalfa.

Aphids are common insects to see in field crops, especially in alfalfa. In Iowa, there are at least four aphid species that colonize this crop. A quick scouting bout in central Iowa yesterday (May 17) revealed at least two species feeding within the same field. Learning to distinguish aphids in alfalfa takes a little practice, but is worth knowing for making sound treatment decisions.

Begin Scouting for Black Cutworm in Corn

May 13, 2022
Estimated black cutworm dates for each Iowa crop district.

Black cutworm (BCW) is a migratory pest that arrives in Iowa with spring storms each year. It is sporadic and unpredictable, making it essential to scout to determine whether BCW larvae are present in a field and management is required. Because BCW is sporadic, it is usually not economical to use preventative insecticide applications; however, rescue treatments can be very effective if scouting reveals larvae are present.

Soybean Aphid Egg Hatch Nearly Complete

May 11, 2022
Growing degree days map.

Iowa’s most significant soybean insect pest, the soybean aphid, has host-alternating biology. Its primary host is buckthorn, an invasive shrub often found in hedgerows and roadside ditches, and its secondary host is soybean. For most of the year, soybean aphids exist as cold-hardy eggs on buckthorn branches near leaf buds. For many aphids that overwinter as an egg, hatching often happens when the host resumes spring growth. This makes biological sense because the aphids feed on phloem from actively growing tissue. If egg hatch happens too soon, they can suffer mortality from starvation.

When is it too Late to Seed Forages?

May 6, 2022
Young forages growing in field.

With the cool and wet spring in 2022, there haven’t been many opportunities to seed forages. Looking at the calendar date, is it getting too late to plant forages? The short answer is that there is still some time to seed forages this spring. While the typical planting window is late February (frost seeding) through late April, planting forages in May can still be successful. For areas south of I-80, agronomists suggest seeding by the middle of May, whereas north of I-80 could get by seeding even a little later in May.

Estimating First Crop Alfalfa Harvest using PEAQ

May 6, 2022
alfalfa measurement against ruler

Alfalfa growth and development is affected by many factors, including temperature, soil moisture, stand age and even cultivar. Alfalfa growth has been slow this spring due to cooler than normal weather. This is a reminder that using the calendar date to determine when to harvest the first crop of alfalfa may not be the best method. In order to accurately predict the optimal time for the first cutting, the University of Wisconsin developed the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) method.

Another Tough Winter for Bean Leaf Beetle

April 19, 2022
Adult bean leaf beetle.

Bean leaf beetle adults (Photo 1) are susceptible to cold weather, and most will die if exposed to air temperatures below 14°F. However, they avoid harsh temperatures by burrowing 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 preferred hosts, like soybean. While initial adult activity can begin before soybean emergence, peak abundance often coincides with early-vegetative soybean.

Scout for Alfalfa Weevil in Southern Iowa

April 15, 2022
Growing degree days map.

In addition to checking alfalfa stands for winter injury, it is time to start thinking about scouting for alfalfa weevil. Even with recent cool temperatures, overwintering alfalfa weevil adults have become active, made their way to alfalfa fields, and have likely begun laying eggs in stems. Alfalfa weevil is a cool-season pest and is able to survive less than ideal temperatures by moving under residue or near the crown.

Seedcorn Maggots Emerging in Southern Iowa

April 13, 2022
Seedcorn maggot on soybean. Photo by University of Minnesota Extension.

Seedcorn maggot larvae feed on germinating seeds or seedlings of corn and soybean (Photo 1). Feeding can delay development or kill the plant, and plant injury is especially prevalent during cool, wet springs when plants grow slowly. So far, this spring has been cooler and wetter than the past few years and this trend is expected to continue during the next couple of weeks.

Check Alfalfa Stands for Winter Injury

April 11, 2022
Healthy white tissue in the crown and taproot of an alfalfa plant with lots of new, symmetrical shoots.

As forage stands start to green up this spring, take time to evaluate the stands for any winter injury. It will be especially important to check stands that had significant armyworm damage last fall.

As you evaluate forage stands, Tables 1 and 2 below can be used to help determine what type of action may be warranted in a field. Note that while older stands typically have fewer plants per square foot, they produce more stems per plant. As a general rule of thumb, plan for 100% of normal season yield if there are 55 stems per square foot, regardless of the stand age.