New York State IPM Program

September 13, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on 35,500 western bean cutworms later, it’s a record year for IPM in corn

35,500 western bean cutworms later, it’s a record year for IPM in corn

Got a sweet tooth for sweetcorn? You’re in good company. So should you hear rumors on the wind about wormy sweetcorn — or field corn or dry beans (the kind you put in your soup kettle) and you’re curious about what’s behind them, here’s the scoop:

The western bean cutworm (just call it “WBC”), a recent invasive, is making waves in the midwestern and eastern corn belts. This pest made landfall in New York’s million-plus acres of field corn in 2010, its numbers spiraling ever upward since. This year, though, has been a record-breaker. WBC has become a pest we can count on for a long time to come.

To cope with WBC, the New York State IPM Program coordinates a “pheromone trap network” for WBC in field corn; in dry beans too. A second IPM trap network focuses on sweetcorn, though it also traps for WBC in beans.

But what is a pheromone and how does the network work? Think of pheromones as scents that insects send wafting on the wind to alert others in their tribe that something important is happening — and the time to act is now. In this case, pheromones are the “come hither” perfumes female moths use to advertise for mates.

Trapped — one more male out looking for a date.

But lures imbued with chemical replicates of pheromones can intercept males on their quest, dooming them to a very different fate. IPM scouts strategically place special trap buckets around corn and bean fields.  Each contains a “kill strip” treated with an insecticide. Farmers, Extension educators, and crop consultants check the buckets each week to count their take.

And though it’s their larvae — the worms — that give WBC its name, here we’re counting the adults; in this case, moths.

It’s traps — and scouts — like these that do the job.

This year the two networks combined have caught more than 35,500 moths — far more than in any other year. Those in the know, know — this is not good. WBC is a sneaky critter. It even eats its eggshells as soon as it hatches, removing evidence that it’s out and about. Meanwhile, trap network numbers can vary considerably from county to county; even from farm to farm. Regardless, when armed with counts in their area farmers know when it’s time to ramp up scouting their fields. Because once they’ve reached threshold — the IPM “do-something” point — it’s time to act.

Why wait till a field reaches threshold? Because sprays are expensive — both to the farmers’ bottom line and the environment.  Because time is money too; spending it needlessly out on a rig does no favors. Because treating only at need is one very good way to keep all these costs as low as can be.

Because — it’s what IPM is here for.

May 27, 2014
by Kenneth Wise
Comments Off on Keep Records on Pests

Keep Records on Pests

They’re back! Insect pests, plant diseases, weeds, birds, biting flies — the works. And tracking them year to year is critical. How better to know your options are, this year and in years to come?

So pick up a pencil, smart phone or tablet and write them down on a field-to-field or livestock basis. Write your observations over the course of this summer — each while it’s fresh in your mind. Did potato leafhopper infestations go over threshold in alfalfa? Were corn diseases a problem? Which diseases and what hybrid were infected? Did you have corn rootworm injury? Did you lose wheat to snow mold? Were there new weeds or weed escapes you didn’t expect this year? Got more house flies on your cattle than past years? And bear in mind: cereal leaf beetle is increasing from year to year on wheat. Have you seen it yet?

These records help you better select which management practices to use now and in the future. For example, if you were hit with potato leafhoppers this season and you want to rotate your alfalfa, one management option is to use potato leafhopper-resistant alfalfa. Another example: choose wheat varieties resistant to certain diseases — based on field observations you wrote down last fall.

Likewise, if you have weed escapes you might reconsider your weed control products or even use methods like cultivation Or lots of house flies on your cattle and you sprayed could mean the flies became resistant to the insecticide.

WRITE IT DOWN! Keep records of pests you observe — and their threshold numbers. Because if you wait too long, you might forget what happened.

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