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Know What's Bugging You!

Identify insects you find while checking seed placement.

Stopping occasionally to make sure you're spacing seed correctly and at the proper depth is still worth the time it takes, even at this late date in the season, and even if you have monitors. There's no replacement for seeing ti fro yourself, at least once in a while.


While digging at this point in the season, you may find more than seed in or near the planting trench. You're likely to kick out some insects as you peel back soil slowly, hoping to find seed undisturbed so you can get an accurate feel for planting depth. Finding insects there isn't unusual. But the next step is identifying what they are, so you know if you have anything to fear from them, or if the seed –coated insecticide on corn or soil-applied insecticide you're using will likely take care of the problem.


If you feel you can't stop the cornplanter or soybean planter or drill long enough to dig, another option is to have someone else who's helping you do it for you, especially if you are just doing it to monitor conditions, and believe the setting is still correct.


Doing that for a friend recently, I discovered an abundance of small, white-grub-like insects with brown heads, along with corn seed. My next move was to Purdue University's Corn & Soybean Field Guide, 2009 edition, also called ID-179. Nearly 50,000 are printed each year. Some are distributed free to customers by seed companies. Or you can buy your own copy. Find out how at The Guide is assembled each year under the guidance of Corey Gerber, director of the Diagnostic Training Center at Purdue.


Looking at page 58, the insects I was finding fit the description of white grubs. I alerted the farmer, and discovered what he was already doing should take care of the problem. White grubs haven't always been considered a major problem for corn, but have been showing up more frequently as a cause of poor stands, especially in northern Indiana. It's a pest worth keeping an eye on, especially if you find significant quantities of the pest, as I did while digging for seed.


If I had found a brown, long, slender worm instead, ti might have looked like the insect on page 59 of the guide- a wireworm. They're usually more of a problem when corn is planted into high organic-matter areas. The problem with both of these pests is that no rescue treatments are available if you discover you have them, such as if they're chewing on corn and cutting off plants, after planting is completed.


Other pests include the black cutworm, pictured on page 60. This could be a perfect week to check newly-emerged corn fields for cut plants that might be caused by black cutworms.


The entire Guide features colored pictures and scouting information on a variety of common corn and soybean insects.

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