Vigilantly Scout Crops All Season Long
“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.