Hopefully this won't be one of those late springs that turns into a super-late spring, with planting backed all the way up into May. It's far too early to assume that is what this year will be like. At the same time, it's only human to recall what those seasons have been like. In fields not tilled last fall and touched until mid-May or after, weeds tend to take over. In some cases it's just winter annuals. But in other cases it's some of the tough summer annuals, including giant ragweed.
While weed control and getting those big weeds that get a jump due to delayed planting knocked back are legitimate concerns, they're not the only concern you will have, experts say. Entomologists say fields that are green in April and early may before tillage or burndown applications are prime targets for insects, especially for female cutworm moths. If they lay their eggs there, those fields will command more than the usual amount of scouting for cutworms once corn seedlings are up.
Black cutworm moths don't overwinter in Indiana. They must rely on air currents to bring large numbers of their kind into the Hoosier state. There are typically several storms coming out of the south, riding up from the Gulf of Mexico, according to weather experts. Whether black cutworms become a major problem or just a nuisance depends on how moths survive, and on the ability of the moths to find suitable areas to lay eggs.
Green fields are like an attractant to these insects, entomologists say. Even if they are tilled or burned down alter, if the fields are green when moth flights begin coming into Indiana, they're possible candidates for black cutworm problems.
The biggest advice is to scout those fields carefully, Bechman notes. Purdue University assists farmers by taking and reporting moth counts on a regular basis during these early-season weeks. Once they believe the threshold has been reached for possible larvae outbreak of black cutworms, they notify farmers. Part of the benefit for involving farmers is so that they can outline their scouting practices in advance.
Black cutworms rarely attack an entire field. More often than not, they will be concentrated in certain pockets within the field.