Southern Grains: Pest Pressure Builds Widely, Corn Harvest Starts
Owen Taylor, Editor 601-992-9488
Hot off the press: As we closed this report, Monsanto issued a press release saying that the EU had approved Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans for import. Connect to the release in our Links section.
Corn harvest has started on a scattered basis in parts of the lower South. A few early planted soybeans in Louisiana will be desiccated shortly. Grain sorghum harvest has cranked up in the state, too.
Bollworm moth flights continue through a wide part of the region and treatments for worms have picked up, as well.
More fall armyworms have developed in the Midsouth. Beet armyworm – a pest that has been conspicuously absent in Arkansas in recent years – turned up in one soybean field in pretty high numbers. See comments by Gus Lorenz.
Redbanded stink bugs were confirmed in southeast Alabama. See comments by Ron Smith. Redbanded are developing somewhat farther north in Mississippi this year, too. See comments by Angus Catchot. Pressure has been heavier than usual in parts of Louisiana.
Kudzu bugs continue to make a big show in places. Also, more reports of kudzu bugs taken out by fungus.
Sugarcane aphid (SCA) treatments continue across a wider area. The insect was confirmed in a new county in Virginia this week. In 2015 SCA did not make their first appearance in the state until September. Kentucky also reported that its first sighting of SCA occurred earlier than it did in 2015. Headworms are also being sprayed in some grain sorghum. Connect to more info in our Links section.
Curtis Fox, Consultant, Gillette, Arkansas:
“Some of our earliest planted soybeans might be 3 weeks from being done (as of 7/21). We’re treating a few worms in fields here and there and have sprayed a little for stink bugs. Otherwise, beans are very, very quiet. We’ve stopped watering most of the corn and will be harvesting some in 3 weeks.”
Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist:
“I’ve found redbanded stink bugs in southeast Alabama on the Wiregrass REC. They were captured off alfalfa. In about 20 sweeps I found 6 to 8. If soybeans are podding, stink bugs could be an issue, and they’re easy to find right now in some central Alabama cotton. At Prattville, we’re also picking up the brown marmorated.
“The current corn earworm flight is mostly happening this week in central Alabama. It was apparent last week in south Alabama and next week it will be shifting into our northern counties. Damaging levels of sugarcane aphids are developing in grain sorghum in places. Where I’ve been, they’ve only built in spots, although it won’t take long for SCA to build across the field.”
Justin George, J.P. George Consulting Service, Inc., Merigold, Mississippi:
“Corn is closing in on black layer. Some growers are watering for the last time and others chose not to water again, but they appear to have adequate moisture. The crop is pretty much over. Our oldest soybeans are at R5 to R5.5. In our R3 to R4 fields we’re applying fungicides and insecticides. We’re seeing a high number of bollworm moths and worms in that part of the crop, which isn’t unexpected. They’re right on schedule. A lot of guys didn’t go with a fungicide and Dimilin. Others applied just a fungicide. With the insecticide, we’re including a fungicide where we have frogeye-susceptible varieties.”
Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia:
“We’re starting to pick up a few soybean loopers and velvetbean caterpillars (VBC). We have kudzu bugs, although I can’t say if they will be treatable. We at least know that they’re not completely gone. The loopers and VBC may have appeared a little ahead of normal. I haven’t heard of anything treatable, but this is certainly another reason to be scouting your beans.”
Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist:
“I came across beet armyworms (BAW) today (7/19) in a field of soybeans at Lonoke. I’d about forgotten what BAW look like. I don’t know how widespread they are, but this was a pretty heavy population, something we haven’t seen in a long, long time. These were small beans, not lapped and just starting to bloom. I averaged about one per sweep.
“Corn earworm activity has definitely picked up in beans, and we’re spraying more and more fields. Over the last few days I’ve been in several fields with numbers well above treatment level. We’ve developed a new threshold that looks not just at commodity values but also the cost of control, plus the number of worms in your net. With $11 beans that threshold drops a little, down to 7 to 8 worms per 25 sweeps instead of the standard 9 per 25 that we used for years. If you’ve got questions about the threshold, contact your Extension agent for details. Up until now, this CEW buildup has been confined to south Arkansas, but it’s moved into central Arkansas and is turning up a little in north Arkansas.
“In grain sorghum we’re seeing a lot of headworm activity now that milo is in milk and soft dough stages. This includes fall armyworms and CEW, and treatments are going out. Sugarcane aphids are still boiling and seem to be getting worse every week, and a lot of applications are going out.”
Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, North Carolina:
“Corn varies. In some areas you can see the effects of inadequate moisture and excessive heat. On our sandier soils, a couple of rains can greatly influence yields since those soils lack much storage capacity. A cold front is moving through right now (7/19) and has dropped the temperature to 90, which says something about how hot it’s been. We also have corn that looks pretty good. So far in July we’ve had 9 inches of rain here. At our farm, we’ve probably had 50% of that, which we badly needed.
“In soybeans, we dealt with corn earworms (CEW) in late June on some MG IVs. That’s rare for us. While they were just in pockets, the pressure was definitely there. Overall, the crop looks average, and our earlier planted fields look pretty good. The most mature are at R3 to R4. Some beans just went in the ground a week or two ago. In those cases, it was too wet in early June to plant, then dry conditions hit in mid to late June.”
Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist:
“More soybeans are being sprayed for bollworms. It’s still nothing really bad, but some fields are hitting threshold. Calls continue about kudzu bugs, and a lot of them are out there. People also are reporting dead kudzu bugs and a white fungus. It’s yet to be determined if the fungus will take out populations. Keep in mind that the accepted threshold is based on immatures – one per sweep.
“Redbanded stink bugs are picking up in the south Delta and several targeted sprays have been made for them. They’re moving north, based on our sampling. The numbers aren’t horrible yet, but I still think we’ll see a run of them in the next few weeks in our late-planted beans.”
Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee:
“Kudzu bugs are the main thing in soybeans right now (7/19) They’re not in big numbers everywhere, but we have no trouble finding them in places. The biggest populations seem to be in the southern half of West Tennessee. Enough immatures are in some fields to trigger applications. The generally accepted threshold is one immature per sweep. I’m getting calls about green clover worms in soybeans. Don’t get too excited about them quite yet. It takes big numbers for them to cause economic loss. I’d recommend a threshold of 25% defoliation once beans begin flowering. Or, go with 150 to 160 larvae per 100 sweeps.”
Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina:
“We can find a smattering of pests in soybeans. Depending on the area, bean leaf beetles are heavy in spots, plus we’re finding worm pressure here and migratory caterpillars. Also, stink bugs have required treatments in some podding beans. Higher numbers of corn earworms are breaking through Bt corn than we’ve seen in a long time. This is happening in some of the more popular hybrids. It’s not an economic concern in corn, of course, but those escapes could affect cotton and soybeans later. Sugarcane aphids have been found in grain sorghum on a wider basis and a few sprays have gone out.”
David Kerns, Entomologist, Louisiana State University, Macon Ridge Research Station:
“In soybeans, we’re having trouble with stink bugs, mainly in spots and certain areas. But in most cases we’re just now picking up stink bug numbers, which happens as soybeans mature. Beans at R5 are just more attractive to stink bugs. As the season progresses, I think that their numbers will only increase. Bollworm numbers have increased pretty good in blooming soybeans, mainly at R2 to R3. They’re not everywhere, but in spots the bollworm populations are very high.
“Sugarcane aphids (SCA) are still out there in grain sorghum. Quite a few people have sprayed, and I would say that control has generally been successful. However, you can’t get them all, so you’re still left with survivors down in the plant that can set up fields for re-infestations, so don’t quit scouting. A lot of headworm activity is present, mostly CEW, with very high numbers in places, plus FAW and sorghum web worms in places. Some harvest either has started in grain sorghum in central and south Louisiana or it will soon.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina:
“Abundant numbers of corn earworm (CEW) moths are flying around. They probably don’t pose a problem in cotton but could become an issue in soybeans, and I am finding CEW in blooming soybeans. In some cases, enough are out there to be a bit disturbing. A few loopers and kudzu bugs are turning up, as well.”
Dennis Reginelli, Area Extension Agent and Agronomist, East-Central Mississippi:
“A few acres of corn have been harvested where the farmer planted a short-season hybrid. With the rest of the crop, our first-planted corn is 15 days from black layer (as of 7/19). The priority right now is keeping corn irrigated until we can pull back. Lack of rain has really and truly hurt our dryland crop. We’ll easily see a 100 bu/acre yield difference between dryland and irrigated in most of our area. I found a little southern rust in Webster County a couple of weeks ago, but disease pressure is nothing overall. In soybeans we’re picking up some kudzu bugs but aren’t finding a lot of trouble. Disease has been minimal. The crop mostly looks good and is blooming and podding well. Otherwise, we’re managing water where people can irrigate.”
Eddy Cates, Cates Agritech Inc., Marion, Arkansas:
“Our soybeans are pretty much at R3 to R5, and we have nice yield potential. We’re not seeing a lot of bollworm activity yet. Moths are easy to find but the worms haven’t built to treatment level here (as of 7/19). In corn, we’re into our last irrigation or will be soon. The starch line is at a third to a half, and some might even be a little farther along. Southern rust is blowing up in corn. Fungicides went out earlier, and it looks like we will beat it to harvest.”
Christy Hicks, Auburn University Regional Extension Agent, Opelika, Alabama:
“Part of the corn crop is hitting black layer, and people are starting to turn off irrigation in those fields. In general, dryland corn doesn’t look too good. It’s short, and kernels didn’t fill out on top of the ears I’ve sampled. This is simply due to a lack of water, I think. Kudzu bugs began showing up in soybeans last week, although they’re definitely not as heavy as they were a couple of years ago. As of last week we began spotting stink bugs – mainly greens – in soybeans. Some had just hatched out, so numbers will start multiplying. Beans range from some pretty small plants behind wheat to earlier fields with some full pods.”
Richard Griffing, Griffing Consulting, LLC, Monterey, Louisiana:
“Harvest is just starting in our oldest corn. No yield reports yet. I know of maybe 3 growers who are harvesting and drying it in tanks. We’re 10 days to black layer on our youngest corn. In what little milo we have this year, I’ve recommended that they desiccate it now. I also turned in my first report to desiccate soybeans. Our youngest beans are at R2, but most of my beans are at R6, and in 2 weeks I’ll be turning loose a lot of those.
“I’ve had to treat all of our beans at R2 to R4 with Prevathon or Belt for corn earworms (CEW). They’re terrible. Moths are everywhere. I walked into a field that was probably sprayed 5 days ago and it was crazy how many CEW moths we were flushing, and we’ve been under that consistent pressure for 3 weeks (from 7/18). But they’re not bothering the older beans.
“We’re finding heavy numbers of redbanded stink bugs in soybeans. At R6 the redbanded just boil into them. They’re worse than usual and it’s due to the mild winter. When you’re out there duck hunting and freezing to death, you can just about count on having minimal redbanded stink bug problems next season. We just didn’t have much winter this year or the year before that. I was actually picking up redbanded in May, so I knew we would be in for it.”
John D. Beasley, South Georgia Crop Services, Inc., Screven, Georgia:
“We might start harvesting corn toward the end of next week, although it may be begin the week after that. We can find rust in every field, whether or not it was sprayed with a fungicide, but the crop is far enough along that we’re not worried about it.”
Gary Wolfe, La-Ark Agricultural Consulting, Ida, Louisiana:
“Corn is getting close to finishing out. Conditions are hot and dry, so in a couple of weeks (from 7/18) we should see harvest kicking off. Our soybeans are in all stages, although some are within 30 days of being done. So far, we’re not finding worms but are seeing moths in ditch banks and in soybeans.”
Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi:
“Most of our corn got rain over this past weekend (7/16-17), and we’re done with watering. The starch line is about halfway down, and we’re going into black layer with moisture. Disease pressure has been very low. We’ve hardly done anything in corn this year besides standard practices and watering it a time or two. We’ve sprayed a couple of soybean fields for stink bugs – about a 50/50 mix of greens and browns. Otherwise, soybean insect pressure is really low. Fungicides went out this past weekend on all the later planted beans that were at R3 to R3.5.”
Tyler Sandlin, Extension Crop Specialist, North Alabama, Belle Mina:
“Corn is into the dent stage in places. This part of the state has had limited rainfall, plus high temperatures, and corn has probably suffered the most through all that. But I was walking some dryland corn today (7/18) and was pleasantly surprised at how well some of it has held up. However, in other places the corn was severely impacted by the weather. I’ve found very little going on in soybeans. I’m hearing the same from consultants. Fungicide applications are maybe going out in places, but that’s about it in the beans.”
Dale Wells, Ind. Cotton Services, Inc., Leachville, Arkansas:
“Our earliest corn has been at dent for 2 weeks. We’re starting to pick up some southern rust, but I think we can outrun it. I haven’t made a fungicide application on corn this season and don’t expect to – unless we run into something drastic this week. As hot as it is, I think we’ll be okay. I haven’t made a fungicide application in soybeans, either. We haven’t seen any frogeye yet. To our south I’m told that some bollworm problems have developed in beans at R1 to R2 that haven’t yet canopied. We do have a few fields at that stage but aren’t seeing any worm pressure yet (7/18).”
Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi:
“Our corn is past dent. Some will hit black layer within a week (from 7/18) and other fields are 10 to 12 days out. So, we’re looking hard at pulling the plug on about half of our irrigated corn. Some of our dryland corn went longer without rain than we wished it had. It still looks like a decent year for that part of the crop, although we’re unsure how the grain weight will turn out.
“Soybeans range from some that emerged a week ago to fields that are 3 to 4 weeks from harvest, although we don’t have many acres at either of those extremes. Yield potential is outstanding on 25% to 30% of our dryland beans. With another 50% of our non-irrigated beans I’m cautiously optimistic. We’re playing things by ear and stretching out the fungicide decision. We are applying a fungicide on some fields at late R3 and early R4 where potential does look strong.
“Where beans are just coming up, those were planted on sweet potato beds that were disked up. In the past, we just disked the ground and fallowed it. But in the last couple of years we’ve made some pretty respectable bean yields in those fields, even planted in mid July. Some of those were planted under irrigation.”
Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia:
“Probably 50% of our corn is fully mature and about 50% could finish up this week. I do believe that the heat affected the crop more than we’ve seen in several years. In places, I’m finding examples of really bad pollination. We had ample sunshine to make the corn but the heat was a little higher than normal during that critical period. The corn crop will mostly be good, but the heat hurt us some.”
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