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UAVs, northern corn leaf blight and Japanese beetles

UAVs, northern corn leaf blight and Japanese beetles
Scout's Report 2015: Drones prove useful, northern corn leaf blight persisting, and Japanese beetles threatening corn pollination in Indiana.

With most Indiana corn being over 8 feet tall now, scouting has become more of a challenge. Patterns are impossible to see from inside the field, which in turn makes diagnosing a field much more difficult.

Scout's Report 7/22: Soybean tissue sampling and corn disease watch are the key activities now

Drones, also called UAVs, allow an agronomist to see the field from a broad perspective without getting into an airplane or helicopter. The Yuneec Typhoon Q500+, for example, is a drone being used in the Midwest as a crop scouting tool; other popular brands are the DJI Phantom 3, and DJI Inspire 1. The Typhoon Q500+ quadcopter can fly up to 16,000 feet away and capture images of a field.

Up and over: Christy Kettler prepares to go over the corn and see patterns even though the corn is over her head. The UAV allows her to do so

The quadcopter is orientated with satellites and the "home" controller, and the images are connected to the controller by a wifi signal. The copter can fly for up to 30 minutes on a single rechargeable battery pack, while gathering pictures and videos. This device has the ability to "follow" the controller, which allows the operator to walk through a field and observe the patterns around him or her in a tall field. The Typhoon features a detachable camera that can be placed in a handheld stabilizer and used on the ground, too. 

Disease, pest prevalence
Northern corn leaf blight has not slowed its spread in some fields. Fungicides with both curative and protective capabilities are suggested. Lesions will grow and limit photosynthetic action through the remainder of the growing season. There is also a possibility of stalk rot coming from untreated cases of NCLB. Talk to your local agronomist and assess the potential yield loss.

Japanese beetles can be a cause for concern in some fields that are not finished pollinating yet. If the beetles have eaten green silks to less than one-half inch before 50% pollination and beetles are present and actively feeding, an insecticide application may be in order. Ask your agronomist and scout five spots in a field before making a management decision.

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Japanese beetles eating away brown silks will cause no damage because the pollination is complete for that ear. Watch for more than two beetles on each ear and consider other economic factors when assessing the insect interference.

Scout's Report 7/15: Disease threatens corn in Indiana, while brace roots face trouble

The insect traps in north central Indiana had 12 European corn borer moths this week. This indicates flight of the second generation of European corn borers is underway.

Watch for egg masses and hatched larvae, mostly in non-GMO corn. Purdue University Extension offers a guide to management decisions and crop scouting guides. Look for my findings next week!

Kettler will be a junior in Agronomy and Ag econ at Purdue University this fall. She is a summer intern for Beck's Hybrids, supervised by Ben Grimme, Kris Johnson, Denny Cobb and Steve Gauck. She writes from Atlanta, Ind.

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