Grains – South – Harvest Reports Mixed, Insects Still Feasting – AgFax

Owen Taylor, Editor
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In Georgia, soybean harvest has started or will begin shortly in early planted indeterminate varieties. Based on feedback from the field this year, more acres in the state went into MG IV beans planted, mostly planted in early May. It’s not a huge part of the crop. But after seeing some well publicized yield gains with early planting dates, more farmers are taking a shot with this approach.

More soybean harvest is underway in the Midsouth. In many cases farmers are seeing some fall off in averages compared to the last couple of years. The decline is being blamed on weather – some effect from a wet, cold start and/or the intense heat in July and into August.

Insects remain active in late soybeans in much of our coverage area. The list includes some mix of worms and stink bugs. Kudzu bugs have made a late run in parts of the Southeast and Midsouth. For the first time, a field-wide infestation of kudzu bugs has been found in Arkansas. See comments by Gus Lorenz.

Soybean rust has been confirmed for the first time this year in Georgia and has made its way into north Mississippi.

Corn harvest has been moving farther north. Yield reports are mixed – average to better in the Southeast but somewhat off in the Midsouth.

Grain sorghum harvest continues. At least in the Delta states, averages are somewhat disappointing, partly due to weather conditions. Sugarcane aphids (SCA) remain a factor. Farmers and crop advisors are still grappling with whether to treat late SCA populations or gamble that they can move grain out of the field before aphids generate enough honeydew to clog combines. Some doubleropped dryland sorghum in North Carolina has been abandoned. Low yield potential this year didn’t justify the cost of treating SCA. See comments by Dominic Reisig.


Brandon Phillips, Phillips Ag Services, LLC, Fitzgerald, Georgia: “This has been a really good corn year. Irrigated averages have run 210 to 260 bu/acre. In soybeans, we’re still spraying worms, mainly soybean loopers, and also are dealing with stink bugs.

“Harvest aids started going on early beans, and some irrigated MG 4.9 indeterminates probably will be cut this week. Extension folks looked at that acreage and said it could average about 70 bu/acre. Frogeye leaf spot has developed in places and we’ve been taking proactive measures. We’ve had to spray twice in certain MG VII beans.”

Trent LaMastus, Consultant, Cleveland, Mississippi: “We’re into soybean harvest and are desiccating a lot more fields. We’re also still protecting some late soybeans from soybean loopers. Loopers have been the big thing for the last 10 days (8/31) on late beans. In young beans we had to go for some mix of loopers and bollworms.

“By Wednesday (9/2) all of my corn should be out. Most yields are off by 15 to 20 bu/acre. An occasional field is right at average but we aren’t hitting any of those dramatic yields we’ve seen in recent years. Heavy rains early in the season account for the biggest part of the yield decline and maybe the intense heat was a factor in our later corn.

“Soybean yields are really good on a lot of acres so far. Some dryland yields will amount to nearly nothing while other non-irrigated fields will cut 40 to 50 bu/acre. In at least a couple of cases, irrigated beans hit triple digits. Those seem to be cases where a specific variety was matched with a certain soil type. But we’re also cutting a lot in the high 70s to mid 90s.”

Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, Plymouth, North Carolina: “Some people are asking about corn earworms in soybeans, but I think these mainly are cases where they missed them earlier. Some of our doublecrop beans that are flowering are definitely catching them. We’ve also got a little smattering of foliage feeders, like soybean loopers, green cloverworms and others.

“The big call volume continues to be about sugarcane aphids (SCA) in grain sorghum. We’re running into issues in both early and late plantings. But in most cases farmers aren’t finding them to any extent until grain sorghum is heading. In some cases farmers treated a couple of weeks ago but are finding more SCA and want to know if they have to treat again. In many cases they probably do.

“Some dryland doublecrop grain sorghum has been abandoned. Yield potential was low and. SCA had built. Those aphids aren’t a cheap insect to properly treat, so farmers decided to cut their losses.

“I mentioned several weeks ago that we had an outbreak of European corn borers (ECB) on land in a wildlife management area where ECB had historically been a problem. People who rent land there are limited on product choices, both in terms of foliar applications and seed treatments, and they can’t plant Bt hybrids.

“Long story short: ECB took over that corn. It’s probably the worst insect damage I’ve ever seen across any crop. I now know why North Carolina had such a rapid adoption rate for Bt corn when it was introduced.”

Larry Walker, Walker Cotton Technical Services, Flintville, Tennessee: “A few late MG III soybeans have been harvested. We had some defoliation from soybeans loopers. Very few fields reached 20% to 30% defoliation, mostly just in spots and not across whole fields. The budget did take a hit where treatments were needed. Doublecrop beans look really good. They’re still adding pods.

“Corn harvest started to a small degree. Rain over the last weekend (8/29-30) held it up some. Our grain sorghum is at 20% to 22% moisture. Sugarcane aphids (SCA) are evident in places, although I don’t think they will develop into an issue before we start harvesting. We got up to 4 inches of rain a couple of weeks ago, plus this last rain, and all of that washed off a lot of honeydew, plus some aphids. Also, plenty of adult and immature ladybugs have taken up residence in grain sorghum.”

Travis Vallee, CenLa Ag Services, Pineville, Louisiana: “Some soybean harvest is underway. We’re still spraying stink bugs in places. It’s mainly redbanded and they’re pretty fierce right now and very mobile. It seems like we’ve had to spray for them in later beans every 10 to 14 days. I’ve written more recommendations than I ever have in the past for soybean loopers in beans, but that’s behind us now.

“We’re done with grain sorghum. It wasn’t very good, maybe 75 to 100 bu/acre averages. Yields mostly varied according to how much water damage fields sustained early from rain and flooding. Disease hasn’t been too bad in grain sorghum. A fungicide did go out. We treated every acre twice for sugarcane aphids and also had to spray the later milo for headworms.

“We had a good corn crop and most farms averaged 175 to 195 bu/acre. It rained enough that we never irrigated where we have that option. The best yields, in fact, came from sandy soils where corn would normally burn up.”

Jack Royal, Royal’s Agricultural Consulting Co., Inc., Leary, Georgia: “Maybe one grower has 600 acres of corn left (as of 9/1). Otherwise, we’re finished. This was a super excellent crop. Several growers averaged 240 to 260 bu/acre farm wide.

“We have soybeans that are ready for a desiccant where we planted MG IV varieties in the first part of May. We would have made the application on Monday (8/31) but decided last week to hold off until we saw what the storm (Erika) did. Those beans look good, and we have high hopes for them. We did hit them about 3 weeks ago for soybean loopers. Loopers weren’t that bad but the beans were so good that we didn’t want worms to be a limiting factor. Some stink bugs were present, too, and we nailed them when we treated for loopers.”

John Stobaugh, Stobaugh Cotton Consulting, Inc., McGehee, Arkansas: “All of our corn has gone to the river. On better soils the yields were average. On mixed soils the yields came in 10 to 15 bushels an acre less than what we averaged last year. Soybeans are winding down and a few acres are being cut. Soybean yields are really good so far. Insects seem to be taking a break after a very intense month-long bollworm attack. Some of my beans have had two worm applications, one at R2 and the other at R5.”

Scott Stewart, Extension Entomologist, Jackson, Tennessee: “Stink bug numbers remain very low in soybeans. I’m getting scattered calls about worms – green cloverworms, loopers and even some bollworms in the later beans. It’s nothing widespread. Some fields are being treated based on either defoliation thresholds or larvae counts. In a lot of cases we have an accumulation of different species that is prompting some sprays.

“The main focus continues to be on sugarcane aphids (SCA) in grain sorghum. SCA have blown up here at the end, and materials are going out with desiccants more commonly now. The majority of our acres have been sprayed once and some fields are getting a second shot with the desiccant. Overall, we’ll average one SCA treatment across all the crop, including earlier fields that weren’t treated and these later fields that will be sprayed twice.

“Plenty of people are trying to determine if they have enough aphids that they need to include something for SCA with the desiccant. We don’t have a good number for them to use as a threshold. My colleagues in states where SCA developed earlier can’t give me solid numbers, either. Where you’re finding 100 on the flag leaf, that’s a no-brainer, and those require an application. If it’s 50 or above, that becomes more of a gray area.”

Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, South Carolina: “Soybeans are a mixed bag. Some late fields have small pods and plenty of insects. Both caterpillars and bugs have been present. But we also have fields at R6 and pushing toward R7, and the insects are leaving those alone. In places, beans at R5 to R6 are loaded with kudzu bugs,. Most fields were managed for soybean loopers and pyrethroids were included in those applications. That would have helped with kudzu bugs.”

Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist: “We’ve had an outbreak of kudzu bugs in a limited area west of Memphis. We found them last year for the first time but haven’t actually seen them in a soybean field until now, at least not in any numbers. We’re finding adults, immatures of all sizes and egg masses. This probably means that next year we’ll have a problem with them. I’m advising, though, not to treat now. It’s late, the beans in that field were at late R5 to early R6, and there’s not enough time for kudzu bugs to really make a difference.

“Soybean loopers are coming on pretty strong in most of the state. Everywhere I’ve been this week I can find them in beans, plus I’m still seeing a lot of moths. While they are blowing up in soybeans in places, in some areas they’ve kind of eased up. Where numbers got big we can pick up one to two per sweep and can easily find defoliation. If beans are at R6, don’t spray loopers. That’s our recommendation. Stink bugs are starting to move into later fields. At R6 you can double the threshold on stink bugs and at R6.5 you can walk away.

“In milo, we’re still struggling with sugarcane aphids (SCA). A number of people who didn’t include an aphid material with their harvest aid now wish they had. In certain cases they didn’t tankmix something with the desiccant but then had to come back with an SCA application before harvest. This has been a very frustrating situation. Early on, SCA didn’t take off. We thought we wouldn’t run into issues like we did in 2014, but that was wishful thinking. As you move into the northern half of the state they’re a whole lot worse than last year.”

Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, Tifton, Georgia: “In soybeans, we’re still dealing with velvetbean caterpillars and soybean loopers, plus stink bugs are in beans in some areas. Some of the MG IV early-system soybeans are close to the point that people could put on a harvest aid.”

Angus Catchot, Mississippi Extension Entomologist: “Pretty much everything planted late had at least loopers or bollworms. But all those fields have generally been treated now, so we’re just racing things to the end. I’m getting a few questions about kudzu bugs in really late beans, even where they’re turning colors. Mostly, we’re just trying to ride them out and don’t expect much from kudzu bugs at this point.

“With the grain sorghum, we’re kind of moving past sugarcane aphids (SCA) on the bulk of it. But part of the crop is late and the biggest question is whether to include something for SCA with the harvest aid. It seems like we’re doing a lot more of that this year and we’ve had a good deal more SCA building on the flag leaf and heads.

“My advise leans towards including an aphid material with the harvest aid if colonies have developed on flag leaves. In a few situations where people didn’t do that, they got ready to start cutting and realized that aphids had built and also deposited enough honeydew to create harvest problems. Those farmers had to put harvest on hold, then treat aphids and wait for the honeydew to dry up or for a rain to wash it off. That’s only happened in a few cases, but when farmers saw the honeydew they got really nervous about putting a combine in the field.”

David Kerns, Entomologist, Louisiana State University, Macon Ridge Research Station: “Some of our later planted soybeans have a ways to go and we’re still finding a few worms here and there. Stink bugs have really picked up, although they’ve been coming on for the last few weeks. These are mainly redbanded stink bugs. Loopers are around. I’m getting calls about bollworms in soybeans from south Louisiana to pretty much the Arkansas line.

“People are having to closely monitor late grain sorghum for sugarcane qphids, which are still coming on. You’ll think they’re gone but then you turn around and they’re back.”

Ron Smith, Alabama Extension Entomologist: “We’ve got worms around and the populations seem to vary from one area to the next. In Fairhope (as of 9/2) we have a new generation of young soybean loopers. At Brewton we have a new generation of green cloverworms. If you go to Prattville what you’ll mainly find is a fresh generation of velvetbean caterpillars. On top of that, stink bugs have built in places, so we’ll need to spray a few fields where beans haven’t hardened off. If soybean loopers aren’t a factor, then a pyrethroid should do the job.

“Sugarcane aphids have really been building in places, although the crop still hasn’t been overwhelmed like it was last year. Many fields have been treated once and some will be sprayed a second time. But we are getting an extended period between applications, and I haven’t heard of anybody who’s had to come right back and make more than two sprays.”

Eddy Cates, Cates Agritech Inc., Marion, Arkansas: “We’re turning loose our soybeans at R6.5 to R7 but are still watching any beans below R6.5. Over the last three weeks we’ve sprayed several thousand acres for bollworms and a mix of fall armyworms and loopers. This has been a big bollworm flight, but we’re at the tail end of it now.

“A few farmers are just getting into corn harvest. Yields I’ve heard range from 187 to 210 bu/acre. That’s not quite as high as we normally see but it’s still good corn.

“We’re fighting sugarcane aphids (SCA) in grain sorghum every week and are checking some milo for SCA up to harvest. They’ve really held on. All of our fields have been sprayed once and a few have been treated a second time. Yields have ranged from 112 to 140 bu/acre. A lot of that variation gets back to cold, wet weather that stressed and held back our early fields. Soil type would be another factor.”

Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist: “We’re 95%-plus finished with corn harvest. Yields seem to have mostly been in the 172 to 176 bu/acre range, and I expect the state average to fall somewhere around 170. The state average in the last two years was 186 and 182, so we’ll be off some but will still have a good crop. Grain sorghum harvest has wrapped up. A lot of this crop fell in the range of 100 to 110 bu/acre. The biggest limiting factor was too much rain early, plus the extended fight we had with sugarcane aphids.”

Justin Ballew, Agronomy Agent, Dillon County, Clemson University, South Carolina: “The vast majority of our corn has been harvested and I’ve heard a wide range of yields. On sandier ground, dryland corn was awful in places. The lowest average I’ve heard was 15 bu/acre. But most dryland yields were surprisingly good, considering the season, from 120 to 140. One irrigated yield was at or close to 300.

“I swept a few soybean fields this morning (9/2) and mostly found loopers and green cloverworms. We’re still not seeing the velvetbean caterpillar numbers being reported in the southern part of the state. In one field I checked today the worms were at a treatable level. We’re not hurting for moisture right now. It rained off and on a good part of Monday (8/31) and some areas received 1.5 inches last week.”

Wayne Dulaney, Dulaney Seed Co., Clarksdale, Mississippi: “We’re cutting a few dryland soybeans around the farm and applied paraquat on some Saturday (8/29). In another 5 to 10 days a lot of soybeans will be coming out of the field in our area. Yields so far have been in the mid 40s (bu/acre). We were picking up sub-threshold stink bugs last week in wheat beans but then went back and they were gone.

“A fair amount of wheat beans and later planted MG Vs are out there and we’ll still be sweeping those for a while. We’re also irrigating beans this week after missing rain in last week’s forecast. On our farm it rained 3.4 inches from July 1 to September 1, and that total came in only two events.

“Farmers in the area are still harvesting a fair amount of corn. Yields are off. Some isn’t cutting good at all while other fields are running 185 to 210 bu/acre. Yields fell into the 160 to 175 range on any ground where plants stressed early or late. Subsoiling made a big difference this year. Putting out a significant amount of phosphorous at planting also got us through that cold, wet May weather, it seems.

“That early cold period crippled crops in general. Any soybeans in the MG 4.2 to MG 4.7 range only had 13 nodes of growth compared to 17 with good conditions and up to 22 or 23 when everything falls into place. Grain sorghum is averaging about 120 bu/acre, although we were shooting for higher. I guess we ought to be happy with what we did cut because I’m hearing a lot of averages around 100, including irrigated fields.”

Curtis Fox, Consultant, Gillette, Arkansas: “A friend sent me a text that said the ‘glory days’ with soybeans are over. He was joking, of course, and was still cutting 70 bu/acre beans but not the 85 to 90 bu/acre yields he’s had in the last couple of years. It’s nothing terrible but nothing phenomenal, either.

“By the end of the week we should be finished with corn harvest. Everybody is pleased with corn yields. Averages aren’t as good as they’ve been in recent years, but corn yields are a bright spot compared to the yield declines we’ve seen in rice. If a farmer is drying over 200 bu/acre corn, he should be happy.”


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