Southern Grains – Heavy Soybean Loopers, Sugarcane Aphids, Even As Combines Run – AgFax

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Southern Grain, sponsored by Nufarm,

    Owen Taylor, Editor

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    Soybean, corn and milo harvests continue across a wider area. More yield numbers are filtering into our reports.

    Insects remain a factor in soybeans and grain sorghum across much of the South, even while combines are moving through more acres. The list in soybeans includes soybean loopers, velvetbean caterpillars and stink bugs. Soybean aphids (see below) are turning up on the radar in Virginia, too.

    Treatments continue for sugarcane aphids (SCA) in grain sorghum through much of the South. Crop advisors are often scouting for SCA right up to harvest, especially where an aphid material hasn’t gone out recently or wasn’t piggybacked with desiccants.

    No sugarcane aphids in Virginia yet, but it may just be a matter of time. SCA have been found in Halifax County, North Carolina, which is just a few miles below the Virginia line. That’s the closest the insect has reportedly come to Virginia. Ames Herbert, Virginia Extension Entomologist, posted an advisory late in the week. Connect with it in our Links section.

    Meanwhile south of the border, Mexican farmers have been fighting their own battle with sugarcane aphids. The insect has been confirmed on a widespread basis, including in at least one major production area and also in a Mexican state bordering the Pacific Ocean. The problem has been compounded by the fact that  many farmers operate on limited acreage and lack spraying capacity. Connect in our Links section to a report about the Mexican SCA situation.

    Soybean aphids – generally thought of as Midwestern pests — have hit threshold levels in Virginia soybeans in a number of counties. Connect in our Links section to an advisory from Ames Herbert.

    Soybean rust continues to turn up in more counties in Mississippi and the lower Southeast. In Mississippi, the disease was confirmed in at least one county bordering Tennessee. This is “the earliest we have observed soybean rust in the most northern counties in Mississippi,” Extension personnel said in a posting on Connect to the full advisory in our Links section.


    John Burleson, Consultant, Swan Quarter, North Carolina: “Last week we saw another moth flight and are finding yet another round of soybean loopers and velvetbean caterpillars in soybeans, and we’re still spraying those. Corn earworms never were an issue this year but we’ve had an influx of soybean loopers for the last three years. I’ve probably been a little more aggressive with thresholds this year and have been treating on somewhat lower amounts of defoliation.

    “Corn yields varied widely this year, from 50 to 250 bu/acre. We had a lot of water stress in April, which got the crop off to a poor start. In places it rained 15 inches in a month, and that’s never a good time for it to rain that much. For some growers that included two 5-inch rain events back to back. The water simply couldn’t move off fast enough. That wasn’t the only problem but it was the most obvious and biggest one.”

    Herbert Jones Jr., Ind. Consultant, Leland, Mississippi: “At this point we’re just watching the late wheat beans. They’re podding up. Soybean rust is coming in but most of our beans that are still in the field are at R5 to R6, so it’s not economical to spray them. Unless they’re really late-planted beans, there’s nothing left to do.

    “Soybean harvest has moved fast and my farmers are virtually through with soybeans. We’ve had some very good bean yields, although every farm and field is different. The better yields have run 80 to 90 bu/acre and the lowest I know of was in the lower 40s.

    “We also were really satisfied with corn. Some yields ran 260 to 270 bu/acre, with others down to 200. The lowest was 198. Across our crop, the corn will average about 220. Irrigation probably gave us a 10 to 20 bu/acre boost. Overall, we were maybe down 5 to 10 bu/acre from yields in the last couple of years.

    “We started cutting grain sorghum over the weekend (9/5-6). We sprayed once for midge and once for worms and almost sprayed for sugarcane aphids (SCA). The aphids were getting to the top of the leaf and I had written a recommendation for the desiccant plus one ounce of Transform, but then we got a good rain and SCA never came back up. We could have actually cut it earlier but the farmer was waiting for delivery of a new combine.”

    Wes Briggs, Briggs Crop Services, Inc., Bainbridge, Georgia: “Most of our corn averaged 220 to 260 bu/acre. It turned out okay. All of my soybeans are in the ultra-late system and range from R1 to probably R5.”

    Harold Lambert, Independent Consultant, Innis, Louisiana: “Early soybean yields are all over the place. Irrigated beans are probably doing 55 to 60 bu/acre. Non-irrigated yields depend on the location. Some of our late MG IVs that were hit by the drought have averaged less than 20 bu/acre, while in other places dryland fields yielded in the 50s. Soybeans went into drought stress pretty quickly after the Fourth of July. It had rained so much before then that plants never really developed a decent root system. It was a perfect scenario for rapid decline in July when it failed to rain.

    “We finished corn a few weeks ago and it did pretty well because it missed the drought. Even though we had too much rain in the spring, we only saw yields slip in places where water stayed on fields too long in May. Overall, corn averaged 180 to 200 bu/acre, with just about all of that dryland. In some fields it got up to 220.

    “All of our grain sorghum has been harvested. The late fields were caught by a double whammy – the effects of that really wet May and then they were caught later by the drought. That part of the crop only yielded in the 70 to 85 bu/acre range, although that didn’t account for a lot of acres. The bulk of the crop was planted early and averaged 100 to 112. It was affected by too much rain in the spring but mostly finished out ahead of the drought.”

    Zach Ingrum, Field Rep, Sanders, Inc., Athens, Alabama: “We’re in the middle of corn harvest, and every field is turning out better than what the farmer expected it to be. Dryland yields are ranging from 120 to 200 bu/acre. But, again, everybody says that what they’re averaging is better than what they expected. I think we put too much emphasis on the effects of all the early-season stress from heavy rains but didn’t give enough credit to late rains around the Fourth of July. We got three inches around the holiday and it soaked in really well. Some of our better corn ran 170 to 180 and it caught more showers before and after the Fourth of July rains.

    “Our early MG III soybeans also are making better than they looked. Some are averaging 40 to 50 bu/acre and aren’t knee high. We’ve only got a few acres of those. The MG IVs may do better just because the weather patterns were probably more favorable, but we’re still two weeks out from starting in those.

    “Grain sorghum has been averaging around 90 bu/acre, with some better and some worse. One guy planted 150 acres behind wheat and we sprayed that yesterday (9/7) for worms and sugarcane aphids. It’s starting to head out. That field is in a spot where deer pressure is so heavy that soybeans don’t have a chance.”

    Victor Roth, Roth Farm Service, Malden, Missouri: “We’re finding loopers and stink bugs in soybeans. We’re reaching that point when some fields are far enough along that we’re doubling our thresholds and not spraying. Any damage insects could do at this point is inconsequential, so we’re giving them a pass. At $8 soybeans, growers will be reluctant to treat now anyway. That pretty well wraps it up with a lot of our soybeans. We’ll still be watering our later beans as needed.

    “We’ve desiccated all of our milo and are into harvest. We mostly dodged a good deal of spraying, based on reports I’ve read from other areas. We did spray several fields for worms. The crop was acting like a magnet as plants went into bloom. The bloom wasn’t uniform and strips through a field would be getting smoked by worms, so we had to spray all of it.

    “At the time of desiccation we included something for sugarcane aphids (SCA). They were building fast after a certain point. In a couple of cases the situation got kind of scary. In other fields SCA were there but we were able to slide by.”

    Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “Pest pressure at this point depends on when soybeans were planted and the maturity group. Some July-planted MG VIIs and VIIIs are loaded with soybean loopers, velvetbean caterpillars and some bugs, while we have beans that are just about done and past the point that insects matter.”

    Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana: “Soybean yields look to be off considerably from where they were last year. I’m hearing a lot of dryland yields that are running from 15 to 30 bu/acre on really good non-irrigated ground. With irrigation, some will be in the mid 70s and a little better than that.

    “Once we get out of the early-planted beans, I think yields will fall off for sure from where they were last year. It was too wet early and too hot and dry in July. The last measureable rain we had was around July 3-4. If you couldn’t irrigated, soybeans burned up in a hurry.

    “Corn yield trends were about what we saw in beans, generally off. If corn was on heavy ground and got a lot of that early rain, it averaged 125 to 150 bu/acre. If it was on ridge ground or well drained soils it went 200-plus. Then we had everything between those two extremes, depending on soil types, planting dates and such. Overall, a lot of our corn averaged 175 to 180.

    “Grain sorghum turned out pretty good. A lot yielded 125 to 130 bu/acre unless it was planted late or replanted. The bulk of it will be in the 125 range. That was okay, considering how the season went. We sprayed sugarcane aphids (SCA) twice. We stayed on top of them and never let them get out of hand. They were there but we managed to keep them at bay. We also sprayed for midge and headworms.”

    Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: “If soybeans are still green, they probably are accumulating stink bugs. Where we haven’t been spraying soybeans recently for insects, we can find stink bugs in all the regular colors and a range of sizes.

    “I’ve been reading the reports in AgFax about garden fleahoppers turning up in Georgia and we’re also finding them in some areas in southwest Alabama in cotton, peanuts and soybeans. We identified them three or four years ago in Mobile County. A couple of years later they turned up in Monroe County in peanuts. Now they’ve developed in Monroe County in all three crops and in heavy numbers in places.

    “We don’t know to what extent they are affecting yields but they do stipple the leaves very much like spider mites would. What we do know is that they are more widespread now and that their presence has tremendously expanded in the last two to three years.”

    Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Arkansas: “I’ve turned loose of about 50% of our soybeans. They’re close to or at R7. Probably another 25% are at R6, and I’ll look at them one more week. The rest are wheat beans at R5. I’m not aware of any soybeans that have been cut in my immediate area. I also haven’t heard of any desiccants going out yet (as of 9/9).

    “In those beans at R6 we can find a lot of soybean loopers, plus beanleaf beetles have been coming in right at the end. We’ve had to make some tough decisions about whether to spray insects or let them go. If beans were at R6.5 we’d walk away, but we have fields that aren’t quite there yet.

    “We’ve had some really good looking beans but the weather turned dry in the last 3 weeks, which affected dryland fields in places. It’s been dry enough that the ground cracked and yield potential has been going south in a hurry. Corn yields will be off like everything else. My farmers are reporting averages down by about 10%. The milo crop is kind of average.

    “Sugarcane aphids (SCA) blew through the roof in milo in the last couple of weeks. We’ve had to scout plenty of acreage until the combines hit the field. Overall, we’ve scouted grain sorghum three weeks longer than any of our other crops.”

    Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia: “Probably the main calls about soybeans have focused on foliage feeders, either soybean loopers or velvetbean caterpillars. Stink bugs are scattered around, but we’re winding down with them in more fields. We’ll still have to watch some MG VII soybeans through the end of the month.”

    Brandon Dillard, Regional Agronomist, Geneva, Alabama: “Some early planted full-season beans are starting to die back. No harvest yet. Soybean rust has been confirmed in a couple of counties, although we suspect that the spores are pretty widespread through south Alabama. The recommendation is that if beans aren’t at full pod or R6 it would be a good idea to put an appropriate fungicide on soybeans.

    “A little late-planted corn isn’t ready yet but 90% of the crop probably has been harvested. We had some really good dryland yields, even 200 bu/acre in some cases. But it’s been more common to hear about yields from 100 to 150. Irrigated corn generally ranged from 180 to 250, but we’ve also had some 300-plus in entries for the National Corn Growers Association yield contest. One entry went 305 and the other averaged 308.”

    Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “We’re still getting a lot of calls about soybean loopers in soybeans. In places, the loopers look quite healthy, while in some cases they appear to be sick, probably from a fungus, virus or parasites. A couple of people say they’ve found plenty of worms but not much evidence of feeding.

    “As the weather changes this time of the year it becomes unfriendly towards loopers. If we get three or four nights with lows in the 50s it really works against them. Maybe the quality of the foliage isn’t healthy, plus diseases develop and the beneficials have had time to build. It’s tough to be a looper in North Carolina this week.

    “Sugarcane aphids (SCA) don’t appear to be letting up in grain sorghum. People are still asking, ‘Do I have to spray them more than once?’ Unfortunately, the answer is often yes. We’re seeing this same thing like they have in the Midsouth where SCA rebuild and you may have to treat again a couple of weeks after the first spray. Some people are saying that control hasn’t been what they expected and I’m thinking those were coverage issues and maybe heavy numbers reinfesting fields.

    “A farmer who’s been growing grain sorghum in a big way since the 1980s told me that he just found SCA today (9/9) in his crop. That’s significant because he’s in Halifax County, which is just south of the Virginia state line.”

    Rome Ethredge, Seminole County, Georgia, Extension Coordinator: “Irrigated corn did very well this year. Stink bugs weren’t really bad. Southern rust was a bit of a problem but not as bad as in some years. We did have to water corn a lot, so it was an expensive crop from that standpoint. Irrigated yields tended to run 220 to 250 bu/acre, with some at 275.

    “Soybeans look good. We’re found soybean rust in Georgia now. If you have to spray for other reasons, like insects, consider including a fungicide. Some growers are applying fungicides even if other treatments aren’t needed, especially in younger beans.

    “Stink bug numbers vary but some fields have had to be treated. Foliage feeders are in beans, too, but not as badly as they were a few weeks ago. In grain sorghum we’re having ongoing problems with sugarcane aphids (SCA). Many folks have sprayed once, some twice. Otherwise, grain sorghum looks good. I haven’t seen any cut but we have fields that are ready.”

    Ames Herbert, Virginia Extension Entomologist: “For reasons I cannot explain, we’re finding large numbers of soybean aphids in many soybean fields, with threshold levels in some fields in 11 counties. Typically, we only see a limited number of fields infested with soybean aphids, so this is very unusual.

    “From past investigations, we determined that the soybean aphid doesn’t likely overwinter in Virginia. Buckthorn is its preferred winter host, and that plant is very uncommon in our state. We believe it migrates in from the north-central states and Canada when large infestations develop in those areas.”


    Drought Monitor: Dryness Persists for Most of Country  9-10 

    Corn, Soybeans – Midwest: Combines Starting to Roll; Disease Hanging On – AgFax  9-10 

    Midwest Soybeans: Better Weather Could Salvage Yields  9-10 

    Mississippi Grain Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphid Control – Key At Harvest 9-11 

    Soybeans: Minor Combine Adjustments, Major Yield Gains  9-10 

    Virginia: Soybean Aphids – “Widespread Infestation” 9-10

    Crop Insurance: ARC-PLC Cuts Up in the Air – DTN  9-9 

    Corn: Helping Stalks Decay for Harvest – DTN  9-8 

    Sugarcane Aphids – Mexican Grain Sorghum Hit Hard, Too  9-8 

    Flint on Crops: Long Winter in Store for Farmers  9-7 

    Arkansas Soybeans: Rust Close, But Not in State 9-9

    Georgia: Screening Palmer Amaranth Samples for Liberty Resistance 9-9

    Kentucky Soybeans: Dry Weather Likely Shaved Bushels 9-10

    Kentucky Corn: Yields Looking Good, but Stalks Degrading Fast 9-10

    Mississippi Soybeans: 6 Post-Harvest Activities to Consider 9-10

    Mississippi: Soybeans Rust Spreading North Early 9-7

    Tennessee: Soybean Disease Field Day, Milan, Sept. 15 9-9

    Virginia Soybeans: 5 Lessons Learned from Late-Season Drought 9-11

    Virginia Grain Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphid Found Near N.C. Line 9-10 

    Corn Maze “Dares to Be Different” and Showcases Pop Diva Taylor Swift  9-10


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