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Southern Corn Seeing Early Insects, Disease – AgFax

Owen Taylor
By Owen Taylor May 4, 2012

Owen Taylor, Editor

Northern corn leaf blight was detected this week in Seminole County, Georgia. See our Links section to pull up a report.


Southwestern corn borers have made an early showing in Mississippi’s central Delta. See comments from Tucker Miller. Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension IPM Coordinator, noted today that this is a month early for the pest. See the Links section to connect to a report.


Sugarcane beetles are turning up in high numbers in light traps in parts of the region. See comments from Dominic Reisig in North Carolina and Erick Larson in Mississippi.


Lack of rain continues to nudge more growers into irrigating corn this week. Drought intensity has increased in the Southeast (see Links section) where some Georgia farmers already are trying to work with limited water reserves.


Heavy rain did fall in southern portions of Alabama and Mississippi on Wednesday. Rain also developed in the Delta, more so in Mississippi than in Arkansas. But the storms did not appear to be widespread. Flexible pipe already was being rolled out for corn irrigation, and some had started.


Wheat harvest has started on a limited basis in the lower Southeast. No word on yields.


More soybean planting has started in the Midsouth, while growers in portons of the Southeast are putting the first seed in the ground now.


High soybean prices may even prompt some folks in peanut country to plant a few acres if a meeting announcement for next week in Coffee County, Georgia, is any indication...









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Mike Donahoe, Santa Rosa County Extension Leader, Milton, Fla.: “My counterpart in Escambia County said that a little wheat harvest had started there, but I don’t know of any being cut here yet.”


John Kruse, Louisiana Extension Cotton/Corn Specialist: “Corn is to the point that irrigation has to start, where available. This constant wind and warm temperatures – both during the day and at night – are drying out soils fairly quickly. Plus, the earliest corn will start tasseling within a week or two, so we’ve got to get into an irrigation mindset. Flexible pipe is being rolled out all over the place.”


Chris Drake, Extension Agent, Southampton County, Courtland, Virginia: “Corn stands look pretty good. We received 2.5 inches of rain 2 weeks ago, and the crop is really jumping with that moisture. Some people started planting in the last couple of days of March, then we hit a cool spell that kept things on hold until April 8-15 when more was planted. Not a lot of soybeans have been planted yet. Some of our earlier wheat varieties started heading out 3 weeks ago, and I’m finding some wheat drying up from the bottom. Cool temperatures recently kind of slowed it down, though, and we’re not as far along as it might have looked earlier.”


Charlie Burmester, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Belle Mina, Ala.: "We don’t plant a lot of MG IV soybeans, but a few have gone in the ground. It’s dry, and most people at this point (4/30) are either waiting for rain or will plant soybeans behind wheat. Corn is still growing good. In places we’re seeing over-the-top herbicide damage, but it mostly grows out of that. This seems mainly caused by Halex. This might be tied to when we hit that cooler weather spell and corn wasn’t growing like it should.


“Wwheat is really turning now, and I won’t be surprised to see some harvest starting in mid May.


“The biggest thing this year, so far, has been poor control of horseweed with Dicamba in places. Larry Steckel (Tennessee Extension Weed Scientist) also posted something about these horseweed escapes on the UT blog. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on. I collected some whole-plant samples that will be evaluated at the main campus. We’ve been seeing this now for 2 to 3 weeks. We’re killing some plants okay but have been leaving some in the field where we’ve treated. They’re kind of sick but not dead.”


Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, Louisiana: “We’re finding yellow stripe armyworms at treatment levels in a field of small soybeans where they seemed to have built in a pasture weed, purple cud weed. This has never been a problem weed, but we hadn’t seen it like this, either, and didn’t have much information on what to use. Reflex took out 70% of it. Between that and knocking the beds down, we were able to plant. But armyworms apparently had established themselves pretty good. We found the worms clipping leaves pretty bad in beans just at first trifoliate, and we’ll treat them with a pyrethroid, probably bifenthrin.


“Thrips could be a real messy deal this year. With all this wheat drying down so fast, we could see thrips issues in soybeans. I checked some today (4/30) that were at first true leaf and found a few thrips on them. I’ve already had to recommend a thrips treatment on some corn that was at the 3- to 4-collar stage. There were so many on the leaves that looked odd from a distance.


“We might start cutting wheat as early as May 10 – it’s moving that fast and is anywhere from 10 to 21 days ahead of what we consider normal.


“Corn is at all stages, with a little irrigated acreage still being planted. With earlier rains, some growers got behind on corn fertilizer, and that’s a problem. This is a mixed crop in other ways. Corn stands either look perfect or like dogs, with nothing in between. Well-drained fields have excellent stands. I’ve got corn in one area already at 13 collars, and it will be tasseling before long. Where fields don’t drain well, the rain hurt and fertilizer uptake wasn’t good. On the bright side, weed control in corn has been pretty effective. The only problem – across all our crops – has been cutleaf evening primrose. The atrazine should take it out in corn, but I’m finding escapes in beans and cotton.”


Gary Swords, Swords Consulting, Arlington, Georgia: “Most of the corn looks really good, especially on heavier dirt. If anything, it’s growing a little too fast, which has made it hard to keep up with water. Even where we’re putting more water on than recommendations might indicate, it would be hard to over-water in this situation. Where we’re putting on more water, the corn is definitely responding.


“Wheat maybe will come off a little early. I’m seeing some really good wheat out there. I am a little concerned in places where we didn’t treat twice with a fungicide. That part of the crop may be a little lighter.”


Tucker Miller, Ind. Consultant, Drew, Mississippi: “We’re well into planting soybeans, and a lot are up. Some of our oldest are at third trifoliate, and we’ve already made a couple of herbicide applications on the largest. No insect problems in soybeans.


“We’re closely scouting corn. So far, we haven’t found any stink bugs, maybe just a few on edges. In some non-Bt corn we’re already seeing a few southwestern corn borers down in the whorl. Everything is early this year, so I shouldn’t be surprised that they’re showing up early, too. I don’t even had our traps up yet. That was on this week’s schedule.


“We started irrigating a little corn on Monday (4/29). We’ve got so much corn that people have been scrambling to apply fertilizer and atrazine before it got too big, especially making sure we get that second shot of fertilizer out. Now, we’re pushing to get flexible pipe out. Wheat harvest might start in 10 days on a limited basis, but mostly it will begin in mid May, which is still earlier than normal here.”


Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “Sugarcane beetles have been turning up in high numbers in our light traps over the last few nights (from 5/3), and this may be due to warm weather. The numbers and timing seem similar to what we saw last year. They clobbered growers in the Piedmont in 2011 but were less of a factor here in the eastern part of the state. Growers in the east use higher-rate formulations of seed treatment to prevent billbug damage, which would take the edge off sugarcane beetles in the process.



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“I’ve heard one report about a grower in the Piedmont having trouble finding one seed treatment at the high-rate formulation. I hate to recommend high rates in the Piedmont because they historically haven’t had heavy insect pressure, but sugarcane beetles hammered growers last year, so they’re not taking any chances this season.


“I’m also getting scattered calls about billbug issues, which isn’t out of the ordinary in corn here. These tend to be cases where growers didn’t use the high-rate option. Overall, we’re close to being finished with corn planting.”


Lance Honeycutt, Jimmy Sanders, Inc., Jonesboro, Ark.: “A few guys are planting soybeans. Two weeks ago we got 1.5 inches of rain. Where farmers were ready, they planted. Others are waiting. That rain was the only real moisture we’ve had in the last 45 days (as of 5/2). Some growers also don’t want to plant until they get into May, but the majority are still waiting for rain.


“I drove to Forrest City this morning, and the wheat between here and there was turning big time. In 2 or maybe 3 weeks we’ll be harvesting. In 18 years in this business I’ve never seen May wheat here, but it sure looks like we’ll start cutting this month.


“Corn is being sidedressed, and people are rolling out pipe and watering it.”


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Allen McKnight, Delta Ag Consulting, Greenville, Mississippi: “Our most advanced wheat is right at 2 weeks away from cutting, maybe a little sooner than that, and a bunch will be ready in 3 weeks (from 5/2). That’s 2 to 3 weeks earlier than we expect.


“Farmers are planting soybeans fast and furious, and a few people have wrapped up full season fields. Except for wheat beans, we’ll be finished in 7 to 10 days. Our oldest beans probably are at fifth trifoliate. We’re just about through laying by corn. Still no insects to amount to anything.”


Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist: “I’ve heard second-hand that some wheat harvest has started but haven’t talked to anybody with direct knowledge about how it’s going.


“Rome Ethredge (Extension Agent) in Seminole County reported on his blog this week that northern corn leaf blight had been found. When it starts you get on a fungicide program. But it’s not like southern rust where the pathogen is so aggressive that you end up spraying every week.



“The drought continues, and growers are trying to judge how to best use their water resources. One farmer told me today (5/3) that he had 3 or 4 irrigations left, then his pond would be dry. We’ve got plenty of other situations like that, I suspect.”


Wade Thomason, Virginia Extension Grain Specialist: “We’re finished with corn planting in our eastern counties. Planting is still underway in our western production area. I’m not hearing about a lot of problems. Some cool-water injury has been reported in the west, but it’s not widespread. Wheat is just kind of holding on at this point. A few fields in the western part of the state are flowering, and that’s the very last of it. Some of those guys are spraying for head scab. We finally moved into a rainy period with somewhat more risk.”


Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension Grain Specialist: “High numbers of sugarcane beetles are being trapped in parts of northeast Mississippi where we still have a lot of young corn. Any control on this pest is through a seed treatment, and there’s no retroactive measure you can take now.


"We’re getting a little drier. The corn still isn’t at a critical stage quite yet, but rain would certainly help right now. Most of our corn is furrow irrigated, and you hate to water corn like that right now while it’s still developing roots. You can’t furrow irrigate as precisely as you can with a pivot, so you’re always going to saturate parts of a field and hold back root growth.


"It did rain yesterday (5/2), and in pockets it rained a lot, from a half-inch up to 2.5-plus inches. But this wasn’t a widespread, well-distributed system, and the better amounts were probably more toward the coast and centered along the Alabama-Mississippi line. Where it did rain in other parts of the state we’re mainly looking at short-term relief.”



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Owen Taylor
By Owen Taylor May 4, 2012