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Expect cutworm problem in Tennessee corn fields

If we have a cool wet spring, there is every reason to expect problems with cutworms. The most damaging cutworm in Tennessee is the black cutworm. This pest can quickly devastate a field with newly emerging corn plants. It is not uncommon to see some damage from these pests in corn but usually not in epidemic proportions. However, if conditions are right for their development in a field, these insects can do considerable damage.

Usually we see more problems from cutworms in no-tilled plantings, but they can also occur in conventional plantings. We do not have any Bt hybrids that are effective in controlling these pests at this time but may in the near future.

Until we have Bt hybrids mentioned, applying an insecticide might be necessary if 3 percent of the plants in a field are cut.

Several good materials are labeled for control of cutworms in field corn, including: Ambush 2.0, Pounce 3.2, Warrior T, Asana XL, Capture 2EC, and Lorsban 4E.

There have been no problems using any of the pyrethroids with some of the corn herbicides, but do not use organophosphates if Accent or Beacon are used in the corn.

Fields that have a history of winter weeds can become hosts to cutworm moths entering the fields.

If cutworms are present during planting, some of the pyrethroid compounds may be used at the same time as burndown of these weeds. Check your labels for those recommended for use at this time with these herbicides.

Always read the label before using any pesticide. Wear proper clothing and other attire when using pesticides.

Charles R. Patrick is a professor of entomology with the University of Tennessee.

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