Be Watchful of Corn Nematodes: Early corn planting leads to earlier scouting

We’ve just experienced one of the most amazing months for crop planting in recent memory. The National Ag Statistics Service released a report April 25 stating corn planting in the upper Midwest is significantly ahead of both the 2009 planting and the five-year average.

One benefit of early planting is that farmers should have more time this spring to check their fields for various pests. For this article, I’d like to focus on Corn Nematodes in particular, as these microscopic roundworms have been flying under the radar of farmers and crop scouts for years.

Like Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN) in soybean fields, Corn Nematodes are capable of reducing corn yields without showing any particular above-ground symptoms.  If you suspect that you are losing bushels from this pest, consider taking some soil samples to determine which nematode species is present in your field and at what level they are present.

The best time to sample for corn nematodes is 4 to 6 weeks after planting.  Most university labs and even several private labs can run a corn nematode analysis on soil samples.  To borrow a line from the SCN awareness group, “Take the Test & Beat the Pest!”