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Late planting gives black cutworms a head-start

Agriculture.com Staff 05/05/2008 @ 1:49pm

Late planting of corn this year is giving black cutworm moths a head start on egg laying and larval development. When the crop emerges, cutworms may be plentiful and hungry to take a bite out of stands, according to John Guion, senior product marketing manager for insecticides for Makhteshim Agan of North America (MANA).

"While farmers have been waiting for fields to dry sufficiently to run planters and get weeds under control, cutworm females have been flying in and laying eggs among those weeds," Guion says. "By the time the crop emerges and the weeds are handled, there may be high populations of good sized larvae capable of taking out several corn seedlings each."

A recent University of Illinois Extension bulletin notes that the take-home message for corn producers is that "early-season scouting for black cutworms is essential, even if products for black cutworm control have been used. Rescue treatments for black cutworms usually are very effective if the infestation is detected early enough."

Guion adds that university Extension bulletins indicate seed treatments may not provide adequate protection from a severe black cutworm infestation like that in 2007 in many regions.

"And this year, at-planting protection may not be feasible as farmers shoot for speed and simplicity, leaving insect control for later," Guion says. “Fortunately, there are several very effective and value-priced strategies producers can use with confidence.

"Whether applied at planting, usually in-furrow or as a T-band over the open furrow, or applied after emergence as a banded treatment or foliar spray over the entire field, each of these options provides control of other yield destroying insects along with black cutworm."

Late planting of corn this year is giving black cutworm moths a head start on egg laying and larval development. When the crop emerges, cutworms may be plentiful and hungry to take a bite out of stands, according to John Guion, senior product marketing manager for insecticides for Makhteshim Agan of North America (MANA).

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