Be a Vigilant Scout

Walking fields and noting where there is weed and insect pressure will help you determine what you select seed products in the future.

“Be prepared” is the Boy Scout motto.  Like a good Scout, farmers across the Midwest should be prepared for the unexpected this season as pests aren’t following their typical developmental patterns.  Corn and soybean plant development is later than normal, so they could be more susceptible to insect and disease pressure as pests prey on weaker plants.

We haven’t seen much insect pressure yet this year, and that could be for a couple of different reasons.  First of all, the wet spring delayed planting and spraying.  Many farmers have gone straight from planting and tillage to spraying and haying.  Not many people have had the time to walk their fields and really take a close look for signs of insect and disease pressure.  Secondly, just as crop development is delayed, so is insect development.  We know the corn rootworm hatch was delayed.  We also know Japanese Beetles have been delayed.

Just because the weather slowed them down, don’t count them out!  The Japanese Beetle is becoming a more common pest for both corn and soybean crops.  These voracious eaters literally eat anything that’s green.  They seem to prefer the leaf tissue between the veins of soybean leaves and the soft silks of corn plants.  Both activities can result in significant yield loss, so it’s important to scout for Japanese Beetles.

Also watch for Bean Leaf Beetles, which have adapted to winter by protecting themselves in leaf litter.  Although overwintering beetles rarely cause economic damage, their presence may be an indicator of building first and second generations later in the season.  While feeding on young soybean seedlings, these beetles have been known to infest them with disease that leads to Bean Pod Mottle Virus.

Another insect that could do some damage this season are corn rootworm.  Because of the wide variance in planting dates in 2013, rootworm beetles may move between fields in search of the best “buffet.”  A late maturing corn field may attract a large numbers of beetles if neighboring corn stopped producing pollen, for example.  Rootworm beetles may also move into corn and/or soybean fields that have an abundance of pollen-producing weeds, including volunteer corn, ragweed or foxtails.  Controlling weeds will also help control corn rootworm populations.

In addition to corn rootworm, black cutworm could a larger problem this year as they’re known to cause more damage in fields where corn is planted later.  Fields of higher risk also include those that are poorly drained and low lying; those next to areas of natural vegetation; and those that are weedy or have reduced tillage.

Walking fields and noting where there is both weed and insect pressure will help farmers determine an action plan for the future, too.  It will help you determine if you need to change modes of action in future years.  Remember, family-owned Latham Hi-Tech Seeds offers the industry’s broadest product portfolio.  New for 2014 planting are Latham® Hi-Tech Hybrids featuring Artesian and DroughtGard technologies.  We also will offer a complete portfolio of Refuge Made Simple products including corn hybrids with Genuity® SmartStax, VT2 and VT3, plus Agrisure 3122 E-Z Refuge.  For more details, contact your local Latham® representative or call the Latham office at 1-877-GO-LATHAM.