From Across the Field 6-18-2020

Bugs, Birds, Busy Days

The past week has been prime time to complete many field operations in the county and across the state. The dry weather has kept machinery in farm fields as producers side dress corn, apply pest control, and cut hay. Before long wheat harvest will be upon us as we are usually a couple weeks behind southern Ohio, where they are getting close to harvest.

We received many reports of true armyworm infestations in wheat, barley, and corn in NW Ohio. The following is from this week’s C.O.R.N. newsletter on the pest. “These are black or green caterpillars with stripes along the side and orange heads.  In the spring, true armyworm moths migrate from the south and lay eggs in grasses such as forage and weed grasses, winter wheat and barley, and rye cover crops.  When the eggs hatch, the larvae can significantly damage wheat and barley before then moving to young corn.

Usually, moth flights occur in April, but we may have had a second peak the first or second week of May—it’s likely the caterpillars feeding now are from this later flight. Right now, wheat, barley, and corn should be inspected for true armyworm populations. Armyworms like to hide during the day and feed at night, so scouting should occur at dusk or dawn, and/or on cloudy days.”

A week ago, I mentioned a court ruling on dicamba product use. The most recent update from the Ohio Department of Agriculture states that the last day to apply those products will be June 30, when the registration expires in the state.

This time or year, I enjoy sitting back and winding down in the evenings by watching birds fly around the house. One way attract songbirds to a garden or backyard is by putting up a bird feeder. Birds lead highly energetic lives and require large amounts of food to maintain their daily activities. At this time of year, birds are raising young and are in need of energy-rich, nutritious foods. During the winter, the need for food becomes even more important. The chickadee, for example, must forage for food from dawn to dusk in order to have enough energy to survive the cold night. Many of the feeders, seed selection, and feeder placement tips that follow can be utilized during the cold winter months as well.

First off, it’s important to realize that different birds prefer different types of food and also forage for said food differently. Therefore, to obtain a variety of birds at feeders, aim for diversity of feeders and the types of food within them. This is not hard to do as there are many different types of feeders available on the market.

Hanging feeders will attract species that forage for food in trees and shrubs, where they are accustomed to clinging to swaying branches or hanging upside down to reach food. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, finches, jays, and goldfinches commonly visit such feeders. Fill these feeders with sunflower seeds (hulled seeds for less mess, black sunflower seeds preferred) or the tiny, black thistle seeds. If choosing a mix of seeds, the most popular among birds contains white millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds. For additional diversity, consider hanging a mesh bag of a nut mixture to attract jays and woodpeckers. During the winter, suet in hanging metal cages is a favorite of woodpeckers, titmice, and nuthatches. I’ll end this week with a quote from an unknown author: “Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” Have a great week.


Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator

OSU Henry County Extension

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