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Serving: IN

Slug Damage Observed in Some Corn Fields

Slug Damage Observed in Some Corn Fields
People thought they would be there, and they were.

If you plant into relatively cool soils in minimum tillage or no-till conditions and it stays cool and damp, one pest you risk having problems with is the slug. These slimy creatures do their work during nighttime hours, then try to protect themselves from the hot sun during the day by hiding in residue. It makes them hard to find, but they often leave tell-sale signs behind.

Feeding damage: This damage on corn leaves could be due to slugs.

Roger Wenning strip-tills some of his fields, using cover crops as well. He also plants in twin rows. The Decatur, Ind., farmer scouted fields once they were a couple inches tall. He found scattered black cutworm damage. That's not surprising since a reasonable number of moths were caught in traps by entomologists this spring. The moths ride up air currents form the Gulf of Mexico where the pest overwinters, then they look for spots to lay eggs. They typically lay eggs in fields with green material when they're searching for egg-laying spots if at all possible. A field with cover crop not yet burnt down would have looked attractive to black cutworm moths who reached Indiana earlier this spring.

Wenning also saw several plants with feeding on leaves. He suspects that it was caused by slugs. This pest also likes the same kind of no-till or strip-till environment. Sometimes they can do significant damage if numbers are high. In 2012 they decimated several big areas within soybean fields in southeast Indiana by chewing off the emerging seedlings.

Damage to corn may be less severe. The problem with slugs is that there is no good remedy for them, other than the plant outgrowing their damage and the slugs retreating because temperatures warm up significantly.

If your corn is emerging now or still fairly small, it could pay to scout for cut plants and damage plants. Discuss what you find with your ag dealer, Extension agent or an independent crops consultant before deciding whether to treat the field or not.

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