Cornell Field Crops News

Timely Field Crops information for the New York Agricultural Community

May 15, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNY Research Helps Farmers Select Corn for Local Conditions

NNY Research Helps Farmers Select Corn for Local Conditions

People checking corn crop

Checking a past corn crop at Reedhaven Farm in Northern New York. Photo: NNYADP

The latest data from field research trials evaluating the opportunity to grow high-quality, high-yield corn under localized growing conditions are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

About 65 percent of the approximately 144,000 acres of corn grown each year across the six northernmost counties of New York State is harvested as silage with 35 percent harvested as grain, largely to feed the dairy industry. Ethanol production also contributes to the demand for the regionally-grown corn.

“The importance of corn silage as a high yielding, high quality feed for dairy cattle continues to increase as farmers look to optimize feed value from their available acreage,” said project co-leader Thomas R. Overton, a professor of Animal Science  and director of the Cornell University CALS PRO-DAIRY Program, Ithaca, N.Y.

The 2018 trials’ data analysis includes standard measures of performance, including yield, moisture level, and standability as well as innovative techniques for forage quality evaluation for digestibility and milk production. The forage quality data for the 2018 report were collected and analyzed by the field and laboratory research team that included Cornell University faculty, field technicians, and Extension staff working in cooperation with three farm sites in Northern New York.

“As the seed industry introduces new corn hybrids to the market, field evaluation under regional growing conditions is critical to assist growers in selecting the hybrids best-suited to their farm,” noted project co-leader Joseph Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY Extension Associate, Lowville, N.Y.

The researchers emphasize the need for growers to make hybrid selections based on how the hybrids have performed over multiple years, multiple locations and soils, and under varying weather conditions, and based on the mix of corn traits that best fit their individual farm business needs.

“Corn grain is a valuable commodity in its own right and a major contributor to any hybrid’s silage quality and yield. Grain evaluation trials are typically the first step in determining a hybrid’s value to a regional market,” said project co-leader Margaret E. Smith, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Corn hybrid testing results for 2018 and recent past years are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  Participating seed companies submitted hybrids for evaluation, helping to defray a portion of the cost of the hybrid evaluations.

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March 26, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Expansion of Western Bean Cutworm Trapping Network Helps Protect NNY Crops

Expansion of Western Bean Cutworm Trapping Network Helps Protect NNY Crops

A Western bean cutworm moth nearly hidden in a leaf in a NNY corn crop in the summer of 2018. Photo: Michael E. Hunter

Northern New York is a hotspot for Western bean cutworm (WBC) primarily a pest in field corn, but one that can also impact legume and dry bean crops. With a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program grant, the Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Region Ag Team expanded the WBC Trapping Network farther into the Northern New York region. Traps were added at locations in Clinton and Essex counties in 2018.

Northern New York trapping sites reported 22 of the highest 25 WBC moth trap catches for the state in 2018.

A report on the expansion of the WBC Trapping Network in Northern New York is posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

Data from the traps alerts growers to begin scouting their fields for the risk of WBC and corn ear damage by WBC larvae. Monitoring this pest facilitates early treatment intervention at lower levels of WBC and can help limit crop damage.

The WBC Trapping Network is a program of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. Pheremone traps are deployed to capture WBC moths in July and August. The trap catches are identified and counted to help indicate peak flight and fields at risk for WBC damage.

“Because trap counts can vary greatly over just a few miles’ distance, it was determined that placing more traps in Clinton and Essex counties was warranted,” says project leader Kitty O’Neil, Ph.D., a Cornell Cooperative Extension field crops and soils specialist.

“We saw differences from 470 moths in one trap to nearly 2,500, the highest for anywhere in the state, in another trap just 11 miles away one year. Western bean cutworm populations continue to increase in Northern New York, requiring close monitoring and future management of this insect pest to prevent yield and quality losses,” adds Michael E. Hunter, a Cornell Cooperative Extension field crops specialist.

Traps were deployed in 2018 in areas of dense corn production across Northern New York near Beekmantown, Champlain, Chazy, Ellenburg, Ellisburg, Moira, Mooers, North Lawrence, Peru, West Bangor, Westport, and Willsboro.

The traps will be deployed again in 2019. Growers can receive weekly e-bulletins from Extension and the NYSIPM Program.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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March 21, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Corn and Alfalfa Growers: Plan to Apply NNY Nematode Biocontrol Now

Corn and Alfalfa Growers: Plan to Apply NNY Nematode Biocontrol Now

A young farmer applies biocontrol nematodes to his alfalfa field using a farm-made applicator unit in Lewis County. Photo: Joe Lawrence

Northern N.Y., March 20, 2019.  New York corn growers can now reap the benefits of the long-term commitment made by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) to the research needed for managing the most destructive alfalfa crop pest. Not only does the science-built biocontrol nematode protocol significantly reduce alfalfa snout beetle populations, it also has shown management capacity for dealing with corn rootworm, wireworm, and white grubs.

“We are confident that dairy farmers who inoculate their fields with these biocontrol nematodes for management of alfalfa snout beetle or corn rootworm are also benefitting from reduced populations of wireworms and white grub insects,” Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields, Ph.D., Ithaca, N.Y., said.

The successful biocontrol nematode protocol developed by Shields and research technical Antonio Testa is now being applied to multiple crops in New York State and in multiple states.

More than 500,000 acres in New York State are known to have alfalfa snout beetle infestation. Shields’ research team estimates the total cost of alfalfa snout beetle left untreated on a farm  ranges from $300 to $600 per cow. The one-time cost of applying the biocontrol nematodes is approximately $30 per acre, plus any application costs.

Farmers interested in applying the biocontrol nematodes through the Shields Lab rearing program at Cornell have only a three-year window to do so. It requires three to five years to totally inoculate a farm to significantly reduce the alfalfa snout beetle populations. The Shields Lab will stop rearing the nematodes as part of its research program in 2021.

For more information on purchasing the biocontrol nematodes and information on proper application methods, growers should contact the Shields Lab at least 45 days prior to a planned application. Contact Tony Testa at 607-591-1493 or at28@cornell.edu. Farmers can also work through Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialists Kitty O’Neil and Mike Hunter, and Doug Zehr with the Lowville Farmers Co-Op.

Farmers interested in applying the biocontrol nematodes for corn rootworm management may be eligible to participate in a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grant for the next three years to receive reduced biocontrol nematode pricing on a limited basis. For more information, contact Mike Hunter at 315-788-8450 or Tony Testa at 607-591-1493 for details.

Research has shown that a single application of the biocontrol nematodes can persist for 10 years across an alfalfa-corn rotation and that the nematode population was higher after four years of corn than in alfalfa before the corn planting.

Since 2010, more than 20,000 acres of alfalfa in Northern New York have received a biocontrol nematode application.  At least one new nematode-rearing business enterprise was started as a result of the NNYADP-funded research and technical training on the biocontrol nematodes. Custom applicators in the region have also provided nematode application services.

The Shields Lab is available to work with anyone who would like to develop a business enterprise to supply nematodes to custom applicators or to farmers who wish to apply them on their own.

The NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org includes Shields’ research reports on development of the alfalfa snout beetle biocontrol solution, the results of NNYADP-funded field and laboratory trials developing alfalfa snout beetle-resistant alfalfa varieties, and more recent studies of the impact of the biocontrol nematodes on corn rootworm and on applying the biocontrol nematodes in liquid manure.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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October 16, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNYADP Research Advancing Dairies’ Whole Farm Nutrient Efficiency

NNYADP Research Advancing Dairies’ Whole Farm Nutrient Efficiency

Northern NY farm scene; photo: Michele LeDoux

Northern New York dairy farmers are using a whole-farm nutrient mass balance software tool to identify opportunities to improve their farmwide use of nitrogen phosphorus, and potassium. The ultimate goal is enhancing watershed and agricultural stewardship while simultaneously increasing on-farm efficiency, milk production and crop yield.

Farms participating in an assessment of the use of the software statewide have adjusted management practices over the last decade, resulting in an estimated 25 to 30 percent decrease in the import of nitrogen and phosphorus, without a decrease in milk production.

With funding support from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., leads the research and extension project that is using the whole-farm management approach to help farmers evaluate opportunities to reach optimal balance.

“We are working with farmers and farm advisors on whole farm nutrient mass balance assessments to help identify opportunities for better nutrient use and to document improvements over time. The ultimate goal is to be both economically viable and environmentally sustainable,” said Ketterings.

The whole-farm nutrient mass balance software tool allows farmers to compare the nutrient imports in feed, fertilizer, animals, and bedding brought onto the farm with the nutrients exported off the farm as milk, crops, animals, and manure. The difference is called the farm balance that can be presented as a plus or minus balance per acre of cropland or per hundredweight of milk produced.

Practices that help increase nutrient use efficiency include increasing on-farm forage production of higher quality forages; better distribution of manure on the farm’s land base; improving feedbunk management; adjusting feed rations to meet varying nutritional needs of calves, heifers, and milking cows; and other changes that result in better use of nutrients across the farm.

“A number of farms have shown tremendous progress in nutrient use efficiency over time by adjusting management practices that reduce imports such as feed and/or fertilizer, by better aligning crop and animal nutrient needs, and supplying nutrients only as needed to eliminate excesses and losses,” Ketterings said.

With grants from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and other funders, Ketterings and her team have developed feasible mass balance ranges for New York dairy operations, using actual balances from commercial dairy farms in New York. Farms operating outside the optimal operational zone most likely have opportunities to improve their nutrient use efficiency.

Farmers interested in learning more about whole-farm nutrient mass balance assessment will find information on the Nutrient Management Spear Program website at http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/NYOnFarmResearchPartnership/MassBalances.html.  Farmers can download an input sheet to submit to Ketterings and her team for confidential review.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

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September 25, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on 2018 Corn Data Feeds Yield Mapping Efficiency for Northern NY, Northeast Farms

2018 Corn Data Feeds Yield Mapping Efficiency for Northern NY, Northeast Farms

NNY corn field; photo: Quirine Ketterings

Data from the 2018 corn harvest on Northern New York farms will contribute to yield-based zone management for corn growers and evaluation of yield potentials for New York soil types statewide.

Zone-based management and yield mapping present the opportunity to better allocate resources to save on expense, time, and labor, and to reduce environmental loss of nutrients not taken up by the crop or soil.

Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, Director of the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., leads crop production enhancement research funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. Using data from four farms in NNY and eight other farms statewide, Ketterings and her team of collaborators are evaluating nitrogen management for farm specific, field-specific stability zones.

Farmer participation is essential to identifying yield limitations and developing strategies that make best use of resources like manure and fertilizer. Our goal is to find ways to improve yield and nutrient use and reduce the risk of nutrient loss to the environment at the same time,” Ketterings said.

A minimum of three years of data from yield monitors on harvesting equipment is needed since stability zones are farm-specific and field-specific and are based on farm average and variability over a period of three or more years. Yield data from all fields in the same year are used to determine farm yield averages and variability in yield over the three-or-more-year timeframe.

Yield stability zone mapping is evaluated to identify in which zones farm resources can be best allocated for the biggest return on investment. Zone-based allocation applies to the use of manure and fertilizer, seed density, crop variety, and other factors.

With yield data of three or more years for a field, a map can be created with four zones. This mapping allows us to evaluate where to invest limited resources,” said Ketterings.

She notes the current focus of the zone mapping is on nitrogen management, but this zone-management approach can be expanded to other nutrients, manure application method and tillage decisions, variety selection, population densities, foliar applications, and other production considerations.

The goal is to identify when and where we could expect a yield response, and to identify what we can do to elevate yields in the areas not yielding as much or very variable in yield over time,” Ketterings added.

Ketterings’ work on the use of yield monitor data included the development of a protocol for obtaining and cleaning corn harvest data collected by the yield monitor systems that are increasingly used on regional farms. The data cleaning process is as important as field calibration of the yield monitors.

This regional research funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is part of a statewide effort.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

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September 17, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Reduced Tillage Handbook Now Available Free

Reduced Tillage Handbook Now Available Free

A handbook for improving soil health in both organic and conventional vegetable, row crop, and small grain systems is now available at no charge from Cornell Cooperative Extension and partners that made possible a popular field day event that served as the basis for the handbook.

The Reduced Tillage Field Day Handbook is available free in the Horticulture: Vegetables section of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

“The field day was such a hit with the 70 people who attended and received the handbook that we are making the information available on a broader basis to encourage interest in soil health practices that reduce tillage intensity and mechanical soil disturbance. Over time, this helps maintain or increase crop yields, while reducing production costs due to reduced labor, equipment wear, and fuel use,” said field day organizer Amy Ivy, a vegetable specialist with the CCE Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program.

Highlights and excerpts from the 107-page handbook include:

  • 2018-2019 New York Soil Health Priorities and Plans
  • More than 60 percent of farmers who used reduced tillage or cover crops and responded to a New York Soil Health survey reported that flooding prevention, drought resilience and less erosion resulted from those practices.
  • Stacking tillage tools can save time for field preparation and reduce labor and fuel needs.
  • Cultivation is typically most effective for improving weed management with small weeds in dry, loose soil.
  • A project in Virginia is evaluating the potential for farmers to increase their use of cover crop rolling, which has been used successfully by individual farmers from Alabama to Pennsylvania but has yet to see widespread use in the U.S.
  • High-residue conservation tillage systems involve using large amounts of cover crop residue to suppress weeds, reduce soil erosion, and conserve soil moisture.

Although the event, held at the Willsboro Research Farm in Willsboro, N.Y., was targeted to meet organic grower expressed interest, the practices discussed in the handbook will also benefit conventional growers.

Materials are included from the field day presenters, including Bryan Brown of the New York State Integrated Pest Management program on managing weeds in small-seeded crops; Ryan Maher of the Cornell Small Farms Program on zone tillage systems; and John Wallace, Cornell University Specialty Crops Systems, on weed seedbank management.

The resource materials in the handbook consider crimpers, rollers, the biology of soil compaction, understanding microbes and nutrient recycling, caring for soil as a living system, and the use of reduced tillage and cover crops for organic and conventional vegetable production. Other sections look at how to avoid roller crimper problems, winter-hardy cover cropping, using cover crops to convert to no-till and no-till management for organic systems.

The handbook includes information from a variety of sources including Iowa State University, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio State University, Penn State Extension, the Rodale Institute, Rutgers University, the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Program, and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, New York Soil Health, and Lake Champlain Basin Program sponsored the Reduced Tillage summer field day event. The Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, CCE Essex County, and the Cornell University Willsboro Research Farm coordinated the field day programming.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

 

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July 3, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on July 31: Reduced Tillage Field Day in Willsboro

July 31: Reduced Tillage Field Day in Willsboro

Strip tilling with cover crops; photo: Ryan Maher

In-field demonstrations with agricultural specialists and growers from NY and Vermont and six learning stations are all part of the Reduced Tillage in Organic Systems Field Day to be held Tuesday, July 31, 2018, from 9 am to 3 pm at the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm, 48 Sayward Lane, Willsboro, NY. The event is free to attend.

The overall focus of the day on improving soil health was developed to meet grower requests. While the event is geared toward organic vegetable, row crop, and small grain growers, the practices discussed will also benefit conventional growers.

Decreasing soil disturbance maintains diverse and active biological activity that is critical for well-functioning, healthy soil. Reducing tillage intensity and mechanical soil disturbance can improve soil health. Over time, this helps maintain or increase crop yields, while reducing production costs due to saved labor, equipment wear, and fuel,” notes organizer Amy Ivy, a vegetable specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County.

The field day topics include roller-crimping, zone tillage in high residue, in-row cultivation tools, stale seedbed and weed seed bank management strategies and grower experiences with reduced tillage on their farms.

The field day speakers are Jean-Paul Courtens, Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook, NY; University of Vermont Agronomist Heather Darby; Cornell Willsboro Research Farm Manager Mike Davis; Jack Lazor, Butterwork Farm, Westfield, VT; Chuck Bornt, Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program; Bryan Brown and Ryan Maher, Cornell Small Farms Program; Kitty O’Neil, Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Regional Ag Team; and Cornell University Weed Ecology and Management Professor John Wallace.

Participants at the day-long event will rotate between three demonstration and discussion stations in the morning and three in the afternoon. Lunch is included. The first 50 attendees will receive a program resource booklet.

The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County and the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm coordinated this field day with funding support from the New York State Soil Health Initiative, Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

For more information, contact Amy Ivy, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County, 518-561-7450, adi2@cornell.edu.

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July 3, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Corn and Soybean Surveys Alert NNY Farmers to Disease Trends

Corn and Soybean Surveys Alert NNY Farmers to Disease Trends

White mold discovered in soybeans in NNY in 2017; photos: Mike Hunter, CCE

As Northern New York farmers scout corn and soybean fields for any diseases that may impact crop health and yield, they can use five years’ worth of survey results as a guide to newly-emerging and common crop pathogens in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The corn and soybean disease survey project is funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. In addition to identifying current areas of concern and trends, the project provides regional farmers with the expertise of Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists who scout 12 sentinel fields of corn and 21 sentinel fields of soybeans. These fields on Northern New York Farms represent different soils and growing conditions, and a variety of cropping practices.

Fields are assessed at various stages of crop growth. The Bergstrom Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has cultured and analyzed field samples since 2013.

“Multi-year surveys better capture variations in weather from year-to-year, from a wet spring to drought in the past five years. The data helps farmers make more informed corn and soybean variety selections, evaluate soil and crop debris for potential problems, and plan management strategy,” said project leader and Cornell plant pathologist Dr. Gary C. Bergstrom, Ithaca, N.Y.

This disease survey project was started in 2013 as the first systematic assessment of corn and soybean diseases conducted in Northern New York in recent decades.

Results of the most recent NNY corn disease survey by county is online at https://fieldcrops.cals.cornell.edu/corn/diseases-corn/corn-disease-survey/.

A statewide soybean disease survey is online at https://fieldcrops.cals.cornell.edu/soybeans/diseases-soybeans/soybean-disease-survey/.

For more information, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Field Crop Specialists Kitty O’Neil, 315-854-1218, and Mike Hunter, 315-788-8450.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

 

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July 2, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on True/Common Armyworm (Pseudaletia unipuncta) Alert – Northern NY

True/Common Armyworm (Pseudaletia unipuncta) Alert – Northern NY

From Ken Wise: Eastern NYS Extension IPM Specialist- Livestock and Field Crops

Mike Hunter (CCE Northern NY) is finding a lot of true armyworm in grass hay fields in Northern NY. He states the larvae are still very small (1 mm to 1.5 mm) and are in the 1st instar. These armyworm moths most likely have come on the recent storms from the south and laid their eggs in hay fields.  If there is a lot in the field you will not see much damage until they reach the later instars. True armyworm larvae in their (6th) final instar will eat 80% of  all the forage they will consume. Many times a hay field can look great in the evening and gone the next day if they all reach the 6th instar about the same time.

It is best to scout your fields ASAP and look for smaller larvae. Be proactive make sure you know if your fields are infested. True armyworm will feed on grasses, corn and small grains. There are economic thresholds  for corn and small grains.

Recommended economic thresholds for corn:

  • seedling: 10 percent or more plants show damage and larvae are still present.
  • whorl-stage: apply an insecticide when there are three or more larvae per plant.
  • Tall corn seldom needs treatment unless the leaves above the ear are also damaged.

Recommended economic thresholds for small grains:

  • Wheat/small grains – 5 or more larvae per linear ft of row, larvae less than 1.25 inches and not parasitized, watch for flag leaf reduction or if grain heads clipped off – yield losses, a spray before soft dough to save the remaining 3 upper leaves is generally beneficial since these tissues are still important to grain filling

Recommended economic thresholds for grasses:

  • Grasses – no specific guidelines available, need for treatment based on the level of damage observed in relation to the expected value of grass harvest

Most years, natural enemies—various fungal and viral diseases as well as parasites such as tachinid flies—help suppress armyworms. You cannot be sure when and where they occur.

Sometimes when armyworms are at very high populations they will march to new fields. They can be in a hay field and move to a corn or small grains field.

SPECIAL NOTE: if you spray for armyworm the CROP and True/Common Armyworm has to be on the label! READ THE LABEL!!!!!

Check the Cornell Guide for Integrated Crop Management for an insecticide labeled for use.

I have added some web links that have specific armyworm information:

http://blogs.cornell.edu/ipmwpr/true-armyworm-aka-common-armyworm-pseudaletia-unipuncta-in-field-corn/

Armyworm (Pseudaletia unipuncta Haworth)

Armyworm as a Pest of Field Corn

Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management

Armyworm Damage to Field Corn and Grass Hay and Pasture

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June 26, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Got Corn Rootworm? Try This Alfalfa Pest Solution from Northern NY Research Results

Got Corn Rootworm? Try This Alfalfa Pest Solution from Northern NY Research Results

Adult corn rootworm on corn silk. Photo: USDA/Tom Hlavaty

Following the successful application of biocontrol nematodes to reduce the impact of alfalfa snout beetle, Northern New York farmers and a research team led by Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields are now evaluating their use to combat corn rootworm. The most recent report of research trial results is posted at www.nnyagdev.org.

If the biocontrol nematodes are as effective against corn rootworm, farmers could potentially eliminate the need and expense for corn varieties with incorporated Bt toxin for corn rootworm or for soil insecticide use on conventional corn varieties.

Research across 85 fields on farms in Northern New York where biocontrol nematodes have been applied to reduce snout beetle populations has shown that the biocontrol nematodes persist in fields after rotation to corn. Their populations are also known to increase in corn years 2-4 when corn rootworm larvae are feeding on corn roots.

In trials since 2014 when the biocontrol nematodes were applied at the Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, NY, they have persisted in high levels each year. They have reduced corn root feeding damage with results equal or at a better level of root protection than with the best BT-CRW corn variety in year 2 of the corn crop in the trial. Their level of persistence has also been at a level sufficient for controlling corn rootworm larvae when the population rebounds from the wet years during the hatching period.

One of the farms participating in this research is Morning Star Farms in Henderson, NY. A spring 2018 bioassay there indicated a high level of nematode persistence two years after application. The level is high enough to protect a new alfalfa stand there from invasion of alfalfa snout beetle in coming years.

The value of this biocontrol nematode research has now traveled from Northern New York to multiple states. For example, in West Texas, where corn rootworm adult populations have been very high, the use of biocontrol nematodes resulted in significant reduction of the pest and the root damage caused by it.

The biocontrol nematode protocol is also being tested in field trials in New Mexico, Ohio, and Michigan.

Shields notes, “Without the long-term support of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program for the research needed to develop a solution for alfalfa snout beetle, this study to evaluate the potential to eliminate the need for BT-rootworm corn or soil insecticides on conventional varieties would not be possible here in New York or in the other states now applying the biocontrol nematodes.”

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a research and technical assistance program for the farmers in the six northernmost counties of New York State. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The results of past projects funded through the Program are posted at www.nnyagdev.org.

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