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Wheat, canola producers urged to scout for fall armyworms

County educators report an increase in fall armyworm catches in pheromone traps.

Now is the time for Oklahoma wheat and canola growers to scout their crop for the presence of fall armyworm, according to Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“It’s become part of the typical management we recommend this time of year,” said Tom Royer, OSU Extension entomologist and integrated pest management coordinator. “Fortunately, the armyworms still do not overwinter in Oklahoma, but until first frost occurs, get out in the fields and keep a close eye on the status of your crop.”

A mature fall armyworm is a large, striped caterpillar about 1.5 inches in length, with an inverted “Y” on the front of its head. OSU recommends producers scout for fall armyworms in five or more locations per field. The pests are most active in the morning or late afternoon.

“Look for window-paned leaves, paying particular attention to plants along the field or pasture margin as well as those in the interior parts since armyworms often move in from road ditches and nearby weedy areas,” said Josh Bushong, OSU Extension area agronomist for northwestern Oklahoma.

The treatment threshold for wheat is two or three fall armyworms per linear foot. For canola, it is one per linear foot.

Royer and Bushong remind producers to always follow label recommendations when applying any insecticide. Always check the current rates and restrictions listed on the label. Never assume rates have remained unchanged from year to year.

For more information about control guidelines and information on registered insecticides, consult OSU Extension fact sheets, available online and through all OSU Extension county offices.

“If an insecticide application is needed, do so, but don’t forget to review potential causes for the infestation levels,” Royer said.

Many pest problems can be avoided by developing an integrated pest management plan that includes the use of good pasture management prac­tices, proper fertilization, mowing and optimal stocking rates.

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