Farm Progress

Field Finds: Warm winter weather is triggering an early rise to insects in many Midwest farm fields.

Kyle Allen

April 11, 2017

3 Min Read
SEARCH FOR PESTS: A warm winter season is prompting an early start to the pest scouting season across the Midwest. Channel Seedsman Kyle Allen says there are three bugs to look for early in May.Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University; Goldfinch4ever/iStock/Thinkstock

Corn planting is underway across portions of Missouri. It is wonderful to see planters finally taking off and getting acres of corn planted.

However, with the mild winter we experienced this year, farmer need to be on the lookout for pests early this spring. Record high temperatures in February and March allowed many pests to get a head start in many fields. Scouting and prevention need to be done sooner this growing season.

Here are the top three pests to look for in corn and soybean fields in May:

1. Black cutworm. The No. 1 pest that we look for when scouting cornfields early after corn emergence is cutworms. This little pest can eliminate corn stands all across a field. It marches up and down the corn, "cutting" plants off the ground. Find those grassy waterways or spots close the road to scout for infected areas in your fields.


Black cutworm (Photo by J. Obermeyer, Purdue University Extension)

2. Bean leaf beetle. This little beetle can put a damper on your soybean plants early once they start to pop out of the ground. Typically, we start to see the fields with the most amount of damage with the ones that were planted the earliest in our area. These little pests hammer the leaves of emerging soybeans, and limit plant health and vigor.


Bean leaf beetle (Photo by Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University)

3. Brown stinkbugs. In 2013 and 2014, brown stinkbugs took a toll on many corn acres in east-central Missouri. Brown stinkbugs affect corn growth and hit the stalks of little corn plants. Corn plants will look stunted, have slower growth, and show signs of being one to two leaf stages behind the plant next to them.


Brown stinkbug (Photo by Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University)

Take steps early to prevent these pests
One of the best ways to scout for these pests is to check your fields early — and often. Try not to fall into the trap of road scouting with the pickup; take the time to walk up and down the rows, evaluating the plant health in all your fields. Below are a couple of quick tips to battle pests this spring in your corn and soybean fields.

 Seed treatments. Make sure your seed dealer has applied the right seed treatments to your corn and soybeans to battle these unwanted pests. The right rate of insecticide on your seed will help battle these pests this May. If we receive quite a bit of rainfall, the right seed treatments will create a barrier, allowing you to build a game plan when you can get back across those acres.

Apply insecticide while spraying. For the cost of applying an insecticide in a sprayer pass, do not skimp on a simple input that will save you from having to replant a corn or soybean field. With insecticide costs around $3 to $5 per acre, it’s a simple cost that saves dollars.

Take the time to fight these unwanted pests this May, and build a game plan early to help lay groundwork for your fields. These three little pests have a history in Missouri, throwing a wrench in our corn and soybean production. Good luck with the upcoming planting season, and enjoy the wonderful weather.

Allen is owner of Allen Seed and Service, where he scouts 3,500 acres of corn and 10,000 acres of soybeans annually. He writes from Hawk Point.



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