This may be a year to pay special attention to scouting for insects, and to be prepared to act if it looks like a particular pest will be a [problem. It’s partly because of the super-mild winter. It not only was favorable for insects that overwinter here, but was also favorable for survival and early growth of weeds and grasses and other things that make fields green in the spring. The extra green cover could attract certain insects more so than in years when fields aren’t covered with green growth early.
Speaking at the annual No-Till Breakfast near Versailles in Ripley County last week, Barry Fisher said he expected to see more green fields than normal this spring, due to the mild winter. Fisher is an agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He advises farmers on various matters related to cover crops and no-till and conservation tillage.
Some insects don’t overwinter here, so it doesn’t matter if the winter was mild or not- at least on the surface. However, if the mild winter produced green vegetation, that can make a difference, he says.
Black cutworms overwinter in the Gulf States. Moths ride air currents up during the spring. Weather patterns in the spring have a lot to do with how many black cutworm moths come this direction. However, once they get here they look for green vegetation to lay eggs. It’s the larvae that emerge from the eggs that can cut off plants.
“If fields are greener, they are going to be more attractive egg-laying sites,” Fisher says. “You’re going to need to scout closely this spring and be prepared to take action if necessary.”
Cutworms can be controlled with insecticides. Certain GMO hybrids also have good built-in protection against black cutworm. Check with your seed rep to see if the genetics and hybrids you’re [planting will offer you protection against black cutworm.