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Insect Action Picks Up In Southern Grain Crops, AgFax Southern Grain

Owen Taylor
By Owen Taylor May 18, 2012

Insect Action Picks Up In Southern Grain Crops, AgFax Southern Grain

Owen Taylor, Editor

Stink bugs are being treated in some corn in south Georgia.


Southwestern corn borers are turning up in more locations in the Midsouth. None of our contacts this week reported finding treatable levels, but that’s not to say some aren’t out there.


Worms are building in soybeans, mainly in Arkansas and Mississippi. Based on defoliation thresholds, treatments are called for in scattered locations. See comments by Gus Lorenz and Angus Catchot.


Soybean rust has flared in kudzu in Florida but hasn’t turned up in soybean sentinel plots. See comments from David Wright.


Lack of rain continues to delay soybean planting in portions of the upper Delta. More than one of our contacts this week talked about the mixed results farmers are having with watering up beans to a stand, irrigating young beans in dry soil or pre-irrigating ahead of planting. Thin, skippy stands in many cases will necessitate replanting.


Northern corn leaf blight treatments continue in the lower South from Louisiana to Georgia. Several of our contacts mentioned finding common rust, which doesn’t trigger any real panic this early. See our Links section for an overview on common rust posted by Tom Allen, Mississippi Extension Plant Pathologist.


Kudzu bugs already are appearing in soybean fields in both North Carolina and South Carolina. See reports from Jeremy Greene and Dominic Reisig, plus related content in our Links section.


False chinch bugs have been hitting cotton in West Tennessee and pose a potential threat to soybeans. See our Links section for an advisory from Scott Stewart, Tennessee Extension IPM Specialist.


Wheat harvest is starting in more places, and several of our contacts said it's the earliest anybody in their areas can remember the combines running.



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Don Respess, Extension Agent, Coahoma and Quitman Counties, Mississippi: “Corn and beans are off to a great start. But it’s dry. People are watering corn wherever possible. I had a meeting in Cleveland on Tuesday (5/15) and saw combines in the field cutting wheat on the way back. A farmer in Quitman County cut a sample last week, and it was 15%, so he’ll be cutting this week.”


Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “At a field day last week a farmer in Pamlico County swore that he saw a kudzu bug on a volunteer soybean plant. This week he sent me a photo that showed kudzu bugs crawling all over the plant, with eggs on it, too. Since then we’ve gotten a report of kudzu bugs in a planted field of soybeans. We had kind of been thinking they wouldn't show up on planted soybeans early. Obviously, that's not the case."


Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee: “Wheat is drying down, and I think we’ll be in the fields around May 28, which is the earliest anybody along the Alabama-Tennessee line can remember wheat harvest starting. We’re trying to estimate whether this is a good or an average crop. It only rained three-quarters of an inch across much of our area in April. The historic average is 5 inches, so that could be a factor.”


Sam Atwell, Agronomy Specialist, University of Missouri, New Madrid, Missouri: “Wheat has really dried down fast, and we could be cutting some next week. It’s normally June 15 when we start here, so that puts us 3 weeks early as things look right now (5/15).


“We started irrigating crops early due to dry conditions, and we even irrigated wheat. The guys in Kentucky who push for high wheat yields had us irrigating 3 to 4 weeks ago. Corn was planted early into moisture, plus we had some rain early, so most of it was big enough that we could water fields when it did get too dry. Soybeans have varied. About 50% of the beans planted on a normal schedule – late April and the first of May – got caught by dry conditions, and we’re seeing some skippy and incomplete stands that in many cases will be replanted.


“In places, people planted into dusty soil and irrigated to try to get a stand. A lot of folks also irrigated dry soils to try to build up moisture, then knocked the tops off and planted. That’s got its own set of problems. Irrigation will never be as uniform as a good rain. Plus, when the soils get to the point you can get in the field and knock the top off, it dries out so fast that you may not catch the moisture. I don’t anticipate any real serious problems right now except in dryland fields. Some of those soybeans already are in trouble.”


Zach Ingrum, Field Rep, Jimmy Sanders, Athens, Alabama: “Our corn really benefited from the 1 to 4.5 inches of rain that we got over the weekend. Our earliest corn is just starting to tassel. We’re just finishing some post herbicide applications. Early soybeans are coming up good, and we’re making Roundup sprays. Herbicides are going out. Some wheat may be cut this Saturday or maybe next Monday if the weather holds up.”


Skip Scarbrough, Farmer Supply, Marvell, Arkansas: “We’ve had reports of some corn already tasseling in Lee County where they planted earlier. We’re still about 10 days out from tassels in this immediate area. At this point we’re getting ready for Afla-Guard applications. Corn looks excellent and isn’t holding back. At this rate, we could start cutting some by the end of July.


“Soybean planting has pretty much been completed up to the acres behind wheat  south of Highway 79. Above Highway 79, they really don’t start planting beans until rice planting finishes. But up that way they’re still wet from rain last Monday (5/7). It rained from 1.5 to 6 inches across a big part of our service area.


“People have started bringing wheat samples to our 2 grain elevators, and they’re running 16% to 19% moisture (as of 5/15). We could see some cutting start at the end of this week, which would be 3 to 4 weeks earlier than normal.”


Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist: "We’re dealing with 5 or 6 different species of caterpillar pests in soybeans. The assortment includes yellow striped armyworms, bollworms, garden webworms, granulate cutworms and green cloverworms, among others.


“In place, defoliation is approaching 40%. Our threshold on non-reproducing beans is 35%. In Arkansas, it’s 40%. The smaller the bean plants, the more defoliation they can take. We have confidence in our threshold and believe that you won’t lose money at defoliation up to 35%, but the threshold is in place so that you’ll treat before you do start losing money. If you’ve got defoliation at lower levels, you don’t need to get super alarmed. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen in the last couple of years, although we may be finding a little more of it this year.”


Rome Ethredge, Seminole County, Georgia, Extension Coordinator: “Wheat harvest is going on right now (5/14), and yields look moderate on this first part of the crop. I’m expecting that averages will pick up a little as we move deeper into harvest. Corn is silking, 8 feet tall and developing small ears. It looks excellent. We’re now looking for Southern rust, our main disease problem in corn. Some people are spraying fungicides for Northern corn leaf blight where they feel it’s needed. This is the earliest it’s ever been found here. We’re seeing stink bugs, and a few fields have just been sprayed.”


Ty Edwards, Edwards Ag Consulting, LLC, Water Valley, Miss.: "I’ve seen a few corn borers but not enough to treat yet. We still have a few hundred acres of soybeans left to plant where that part of the crop was put on the back burner while people took care of other things. We’re into weed control in all of them.”


Travis Vallee, Cenla Ag Services, Pineville, Louisiana: “We're taking care of weeds in beans. No insect issues (as of 5/15). Our oldest are probably at third trifoliate. I treated some corn this past week for Northern corn leaf blight. We missed a critical rain last week on corn, but it’s still better off than it was at this point last year. Wheat is cutting in the 50s (bu/acre).”


Trent LaMastus, Ind. Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi: “I found a couple of Southwestern corn borers boring into the stalk this morning (5/14). What we’re finding is less than 5%. We started hearing reports about them 10 days ago and have been digging and digging but have only found a handful. Corn ranges from V8 to tassel. We found some armyworms in corn last week, which raised a little concern. They were bad in places and congregated enough to cause some damage but were otherwise scattered out across the field.


“Beans range from still in the bag to some at V7. Some of the earliest are setting pods. I’ve seen a few combines running in the wheat. One client started last week, then got rain. No word on yields.”


John Kruse, Louisiana Extension Cotton/Corn Specialist: “We got rain over the weekend (5/12-13), so people were able to suspend a lot of irrigation. Corn is definitely tasseling in more areas, and it’s amazing to see how well the early corn crop is coming along. Growers seemed to have gotten irrigation going in a timely manner when it was dry.


“Some Northern corn leaf blight has turned up. It’s not universal, just patches and pockets in Rapides Parish, on Macon Ridge and in the Mississippi River alluvial soils. Some people sprayed corn fungicides on a preventive basis. The reasoning, I think, is that they booked corn at higher dollar amounts, they have a crop to protect and have more money to spend on it. That’s not to say there haven’t been cases where treatments were advisable. In Rapides Parish it already had reached the ear leaf.”


Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “We’re still finding this complex of worms in soybeans in parts of the state. I walked into a field at Marianna last Friday (5/11) and picked up 4 species within 50 yards of my pickup. The mix included garden webworms, yellow striped armyworms, bollworms and fall armyworms. In places, painted lady caterpillars are present, too.


“We’re finding various worms at 2 to 4 per row foot, with higher counts in spots. Those worms were a quarter to half grown last week. If we don’t get some parasitism or predation this week, they’re going to be a real problem. This pressure hasn’t developed in every field, but concentrations are present in places in north and south Arkansas and into the Arkansas River Valley.


“We found high trap counts of bollworms last week, and some of those went to corn to deposit eggs, but a lot went to seedling soybeans with those other species in the mix, and we can see defoliation starting in places. When you go into our corn plots – especially non-Bt refuge corn – plants are covered up with falls and bollworms.”


John Burleson, Consultant, Swan Quarter, North Carolina: "Most of our corn is around V5, and guys are making their first post herbicide applications. It looks pretty good. A few beans have gone in, but most of mine will follow wheat. We’ll see wheat harvest start in about 2 weeks on lighter soils. That’s somewhat early. But if we get a lot of rain it may not be ready any earlier than normal.”


Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist: “Widely scattered thunderstorms have allowed us to reduce irrigation in places. Growers continue to irrigate where we haven’t had rain. Yield potential looks as good as any year we’ve ever had. You can tell people are intensively managing this crop and paying attention to details.


“We’re spraying for Northern corn leaf blight and keeping it at bay. We’re finding a little stink bug activity, and treatments have been going out for that. I am finding a lot of herbicide drift injury. Underline the words ‘a lot’ because that’s the best way to describe it. We need to pay attention to this for any number of reasons. A good deal of it is paraquat drift. Corn is the canary in the mine when it comes to paraquat. A micron-size droplet will cause injury, it’s that sensitive.


“Wheat is very mixed. Great yields in places, plus good test weights, but average yields and test weights in other fields. It all seems to get back to planting dates. People who planted within recommended dates are tending to do better.”


Robert Wells, CRC Ag Consulting, LLC, Monticello, Arkansas: "As dry as it’s been, some farmers aren’t going to even try to plant soybeans behind wheat where they can’t irrigate. Even with soybean prices as high as they’ve been, they figure that their yields in a normal year – 16 to 20 bushels per acre – aren’t enough. They’re figuring this will be a hot, dry year with plenty of insect pressure and extra costs, so they’ll harvest the wheat and fallow the ground until they get ready to plant the next wheat crop.”


Wade Thomason, Virginia Extension Grain Specialist: “Rainfall has varied over the last week from 2 tenths of an inch up to some areas in southwest Virginia where it’s rained 9 inches. In one case, it rained 1.5 to 2 inches in a 90-minute period. Corn needs warm weather now. A lot of it is showing sulfur deficiency and is growing slow. Snails are out there, too.



“In the small grain, some barley harvest will probably start at the end of next week or early the next week. Wheat will follow 7 to 10 days after that, which will put it about 7 to 10 days ahead of our normal start for harvest.”


Scott Gifford, Gifford Crop Consulting, Manila, Ark.: “We got 2 to 5 inches of rain last Monday (5/7) but now have a north wind that can dry up soil pretty quickly. You can plant 2 inches deep and 2 days later not have any moisture, and a couple of my clients who farm conventionally have stopped planting because they don’t want to get caught like that.


“Probably 70% of our soybeans have been planted, and herbicides have been going out. I’m hearing about worms in beans but haven’t found any to speak of. This time last year – between all the rain and the Mississippi River flooding – we were just starting to plant good. We're early enough with everything this year that I’ll probably be through with most of my acreage by September 1.”


Charlie Burmester, Extension Cotton Agronomist, Belle Mina, Alabama: "Most corn has been sidedressed, and rain over the weekend really helped. We had a lot of dry spots, especially in the northern part of the valley, and corn wasn’t growing well because fertilizer wasn’t being activated. But with this rain, that problem should correct itself. Most areas got an inch or more, and it’s actually raining a little now (afternoon, 5/14).


“Some soybeans have been planted. I think here at the end we lost a little more cotton acreage to soybeans, what with the price of beans and the price of cotton. I don’t know of anybody who’s started harvesting wheat but expect combines to be running by this time next week, maybe even toward the end of this week. Harvest will probably start 10 to 14 days earlier than normal, as things look right now.”


Hugh Whitby, KC Consulting, Wynne, Ark.: “Some of our beans that were planted really early got size on them and have been holding their own. Where we planted during the real dry spell and flushed them up, they look awful. A lot of replanting is necessary. On the other hand, we’re well within the planting window. A few samples have been cut in the wheat, but I don’t think we’ll be full throttle until next week, which is still 3 weeks early.”


David L. Wright, Florida Extension Agronomist, Quincy, Florida: "Several kudzu patches already are hot with Asian soybean rust. With this mild winter, we found it earlier than we have in a number of years. It’s hard to say what will happen. Dry weather earlier slowed it down, but we’re now getting a few showers that might spread it. We do have sentinel soybean plots but have not found it in those. But it’s definitely heavier in some kudzu that we’ve monitored over the past several years. Some wheat harvest started last week, then it began raining. A lot of the wheat planted in a timely period looks pretty good.”


Scott Holder, Helena Chemical Co., Cleveland, Mississippi: “Wheat harvest started this week. I’m hearing more yields running 50 to 65 bu/acre than in that 75 to 80 range. Corn is tasseling. Soybeans need a rain.”


Wendell Minson, Bootheel Crop Consultants, Dexter, Missouri: "None of our pre-emergence materials in soybeans had rain, so all that is a do-over. Some of those beans came up to pretty good stands, but pigweed broke through last week in places. I told one grower to hit them with a contact material because there was no chance of rain to activate residuals.


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“Without moisture, people started putting soybean planting on hold 10 to 14 days ago. We’ve gotten 1.8 inches of rain at Poplar Bluff since April 1, and it all came in small showers, a few tenths at a time. Some growers have been watering beds enough to plant. Others planted, then watered to try to bring them up. We do that occasionally on wheat beans, but these are full season beans.


“One indication about how dry it's been: some guys furrow irrigated wheat. I’ve never seen that before. We rarely water wheat with a pivot, but a few growers ran them over wheat 3 or 4 times this spring. I think that will pay off. Wheat pollinated well, although test weight may be a little low. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll start cutting within 10 days (from 5/16), the earliest we’ve ever cut.”


Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “We have started observing eye-catching populations of kudzu bugs on early-planted soybeans in South Carolina, and similar observations are being made in other states. We did not see this last year this early on planted soybeans and have already started getting calls about it. We did see them on volunteer soybeans last year but not on planted soybeans this early.” 



Study Shows Corn Helps Lower Gas Prices Through Ethanol Production 5-16


Georgia: Scout Corn for Stink Bugs at V15 Stage 5-17 University of Georgia Cooperative Extension


Georgia: Round Spots on Corn Leaves? 5-15 Seminole Crop E News


Kentucky: Fungicides Best Used At Reproductive Stage Of Corn 5-15 Kentucky Pest News


Mississippi: Corn Disease Update and Tassel Fungicide Decisions 5-16 Mississippi Crop Situation


Mississippi: Insect Scout School Dates Set 5-16 Mississippi Crop Situation


North Carolina: Kudzu Bug Eggs Turn Up On Volunteer And Planted Soybean 5-15 North Carolina Crops


South Carolina: Kudzu Bugs Invading Early Planted Soybeans 5-16 Clemson Agronomic News


Tennessee: False Chinch Bugs Killing Cotton — Beans Next? 5-16 UTCrops


Virginia: Corn Nutrient Deficiencies 5-15 Virginia Cooperative Extension-Southampton County


Virginia Soybeans: On the Lookout for Fungal Seedling Disease 5-15 Virginia Cooperative Extension


Tennessee: UT Cotton Scout School, May 25, Jackson


Louisiana: Southwest Rice Field Day, Fenton, May 30


Louisiana: Crop Production Field Day, Bossier City, June 6



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Owen Taylor
By Owen Taylor May 18, 2012