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.
June 11, 2013
by Mary M. Woodsen Comments Off on Fireflies and … “Four Firsts” in Field Crops
Fireflies are out and about, here and there — and when you see them, know that corn rootworms are most likely hatching. If this is year one of a corn rotation, not to worry. Otherwise — scout. Small investment, big returns.
Plant on right: healthy roots. Plant on left: corn rootworm at work.
Stable fly adults — ouch — have emerged via slowly growing larvae from overwintering sites near barns and feedlots. They’re hard at work doing what they do best: biting cattle and horses for the blood meals that females need to lay eggs. It’s “pain, no gain” for cows, which give less milk when bugged by flies.
Potato leafhoppers are blowing in from points south. Keep an eye on your alfalfa (and your potatoes!) — a bad leafhopper year is bad news for your bank balance. Be quick to scout after a storm — the downdrafts that precede each front will drop adults onto your fields. Plant “hairy alfalfa” varieties that leafhoppers don’t like.
Hopperburn on alfalfa — not good for yields or feed value. Scout for potato leafhoppers; plant resistant varieties.
Armyworms, like potato leafhoppers, are long-distance migrants. Adult moths cruise in on northbound storms, but it’s the larvae that pose problems. Some armyworms we saw were diseased — infected by a fungus. Others were parasitized by tachinid fly larvae; the adults dine mainly on flower nectar. Good work by unsung heroes.