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Wrapping up with WNYCMA

This is the start of my last week with WNYCMA. Monday will be my last trip down to Pennsylvania to scout for armyworms, leafhoppers, and corn rootworm beetles. The last few weeks have been very similar work as my previous blog post. I have a weekly rotation of crop scouting that consists of hitting certain farms each weekday and looking for increasing populations of different pests. Early in the week, I head south and work in Pennsylvania and scout from 3 to 4 farms down there. Some farms are on the “full service” plan and we scout these farms more frequently and intensely than the farms who don’t opt for the full service plan. In PA, I have a few dairy farms and a hog farm to scout.
Later in the week I work in farms around the Belmont and Wellsville area. I have a couple mixed crop and livestock farms in this area. The corn for grain that I scout in the Genesee Valley area is on well drained gravel ground and as a result of the midsummer drought is very short and stunted and has already tasseled. Much of this corn is 3 to 4 feet tall and the leaves have desiccated up to the ear leaf. The dry weather has also brought issues with the soybeans I scout in the same area. Two spotted spider mite populations have increased over the summer and some of the soybean leaves have developed a mottled yellow appearance. If damage increases unchecked the soybean leaves will eventually wilt, turn brown, and fall off. However, after finding the mites and their characteristic damage we had a miticide applied which kills the adults but not the larvae. Because of this I’ll continue scouting these mite infested fields, and the other subsequent soybean fields, as we perform our weekly checks looking for soybean aphids and additional spider mite outbreaks.

Checking the underside of a soybean leaf with a hand lens to look for 2 spotted spider mites

Checking a soybean plant for soybean aphids. The treatment threshold we use is 250 aphids/plant. So far the most I’ve found is 25.

Toward the end of the week, I service several farms in the area around Fillmore and Houghton before heading to Sandusky to check corn for a large dairy. I also have some soybeans in this area and have recently started to find another issue in soybeans, that being Downey. I have not yet taken the plant pathology course (that’s coming this semester) so my knowledge of plant diseases is fairly limited. However, after consulting my CCA (Nick), our company scouting handbook, and of course Google, I believe its Downey Mildew. It appears as yellow spots on the upper leaf surface and a grey “fuzz” on the underside of the leaves located directly below the yellow spots. After finding the Downey Mildew we recommended a couple different options, one being to take soybeans out of the crop rotation schedule for cycle and the other being to moldboard plow the soybean fields to bury the infected residue before planting soybeans again. The additional duties of the last couple of weeks have been pretty much identical to what was discussed in the last post, “All about Bugs”. Though I especially enjoy the weed identification and management end of crop scouting, the last few weeks have increased my knowledge and interest in insects, diseases, and their management.

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