Soybean loopers have reared their ugly heads across southeastern and coastal Virginia this week. With many of us busy hauling corn, it is reasonable to ask – when can we stop spraying beans?
In a normal year, we could safely ignore mid-September infestations. This year, the majority of double crop Virginia fields are completing pod fill. Research indicates that R3-R5 beans benefit from a spray when defoliation reaches 15% and you find more than 1 looper per sweep.
I recommend that you at least double, and can safely triple, this threshold in R6 beans (i.e., 35-50% defoliation is acceptable). It benefits you to exercise restraint when treating fields after R5.5. There is no scenario when you need to spray R7 beans for loopers.
Cooler evening temperatures will work in our favor when they arrive.
In Virginia, Intrepid Edge and Steward have been our most consistent treatments (see image below from 2017). Looper populations in Virginia have tested diamide resistant the past two years (e.g., Besiege, Prevathon). Spraying pyrethoids will only make the problem worse.