Leafhoppers, Grasshoppers, and Beetles, Oh My!

Source: Kelley Tilmon, Andy Michel, OSU

As the summer progresses we are receiving reports of insect problems often encouraged by hot, dry weather.  Last week we reported on spider mites and especially if you are in an area of continued dry weather we recommend scouting your soybeans and corn  https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2020-22/watch-spider-mites-dry-areas .

Some areas are also reporting increases in young grasshoppers in soybeans, another insect favored by dry weather.  Grasshoppers of often start on field edges so early scouting may allow for an edge treatment.  Japanese beetles are another common defoliator of soybean that are starting to appear.  Both of these pests fall into a general defoliation measurement, and we recommend treatment if defoliation is approaching 20% on the majority of plants in post-flowering beans.  Download our guide to estimating defoliation in soybean at https://aginsects.osu.edu/sites/aginsects/files/imce/Leaf%20Defoliators%20PDF_0.pdf

A weird problem being reported not just in Ohio but in parts of the Midwest as far-flung as Minnesota is the red headed flea beetle, which is being found in corn and soybean.  This is a small, narrow, shiny black beetle with a red head which springs like a flea when disturbed.  Feeding in soybean creates small round holes and in corn longer narrow strips of damage.  This feeding is seldom economic.  In soybean follow the general defoliation threshold of 20%.  Leaf feeding in corn is almost never economic, but be on the watch for silk-clipping, which is rare but possible.  There are no thresholds in corn, but our Minnesota colleague Bruce Potter suggest this guideline: “flea beetles are very numerous (it is likely more than 5-10/plant), pollination is less than 50% complete, and numerous plants have silks clipped to within 1/2 inch, you might consider an insecticide.”

Finally, earlier in the season we reported higher than usual numbers of potato leafhopper in alfalfa and encouraged stepping up scouting.  In some fields third-cut alfalfa is being heavily impacted by this insect.  You can review our scouting advice for this insect at https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2020-17/time-start-scouting-potato-leafhoppers-alfalfa

True Armyworm Infestations

Source: Andy Michel, Curtis Young, CCA, Kelley Tilmon, OSU

 

As you scout your fields this week be on the lookout for this pest!

 

We received many reports of true armyworm infestations in wheat, barley, and corn. 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.

Corn: True armyworm in corn cause the most damage when planted in no-till grassy fields, such as a rye cover crop.  In this case, after feeding on the cover crop, the caterpillars shift onto the emerging corn.  The name armyworm comes from the caterpillars’ behavior of migrating en masse from one location to another. Thus, one should pay particular attention to cornfields adjacent to wheat fields that may have supported a high armyworm population, especially the first several rows into the cornfield. As the wheat matures and dries down, it could stimulate the caterpillars to move.

One may only need to treat the edge of the field closest to the wheat field from which the caterpillars are marching. If armyworms are found in a cornfield, check for the percentage of plants damaged in 5 sets of 20 plants.  If more than 10% of the stand has feeding damage, it may indicate a large infestation, and the field should be re-checked in a few days to see if defoliation is increasing. If defoliation has increased and plants have two or more caterpillars per corn seedling, an insecticide application may be necessary. However, if most larvae are longer than 1 inch, then much of the feeding is complete as the caterpillars will begin to pupate. Also, look for the presence of diseased (black and shriveled) or parasitized caterpillars (having a few or several small, white egg cases on their body)—if found, do not include them in your counting.

If defoliation exceeds 50%, even a rescue treatment may not recover the field without a significant impact on yield.  According to the Handy Bt Trait Table (https://agrilife.org/lubbock/files/2020/02/BtTraitTable_FEB_2020.pdf), only the Vip3A (e.g., Viptera) Bt trait is effective against true armyworm.  Insecticidal seed treatments may offer some control but can be overwhelmed with high populations. Plus, insecticidal seed treatments last only about 4-6 weeks after planting.

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Alfalfa Weevil – It’s Closer Than You Think

Green alfalfa weevil larvae (the main feeding stage) at various growth stages, and brown adults. Photo by Julie Peterson, University of Nebraska.

Though it seems like spring has been slow to come this year, we have actually accumulated enough degree days to see potential outbreaks of alfalfa weevil in some locations.  Ohio experienced its 5th warmest winter on record (1895-2020) and March temperatures averaged 2-8°F above average. Overwintered adults begin laying eggs when temperatures exceed 48°F.  Peak larval activity and feeding damage occurs between 325 and 575 heat units (based on accumulation of heat units from January 1 with a base of 48°F).  Current (Jan. 1 – Apr. 11, 2020) heating units range from near 100 in far northeastern Ohio, 100-200 across much of northern Ohio, and 200-300 units across much of central, southwest, and southeast Ohio. South central Ohio has currently eclipsed 300 units as evident at OSU South Centers in Piketon.

In short, now is the time to start scouting.  Alfalfa fields should be scouted weekly for weevils until at least the first harvest.  Don’t let your guard down with the recent turn to cooler weather! We’ve seen significant weevil infestations in past years when early warm weather pushed weevil development earlier than normal, followed by cooler weather later that slowed alfalfa growth. Continue reading

Overwintering of Pathogens and Insects – What do Winter Temperatures Tell Us About Next Season?

Source: Anne Dorrance, Kelley Tilmon, Andy Michel, OSU Extension

Over the years we have developed databases of winter temperatures followed by scouting to indicate starting pathogen populations for Ohio.

Frogeye leaf spot – We have documented early infections and overwintering ability of the fungus, Cercospora sojina, that causes frogeye leaf spot. It appears that when there are less than 10 days during the months of December, January and February of less than 17 F, we have had reports of outbreaks of frogeye leaf spot.  This occurred in fields where there was a high level of inoculum at the end of the season the same or similar moderately to highly susceptible cultivar was planted into the same field again which then initiated the epidemic that much sooner.  Losses of greater than 35% in yield or very early fungicide applications were necessary.

Expecting continued warmer winter temperatures, for fields with a history of frogeye leaf spot, and no-till production systems, the first thing for farmers is to do now to mitigate losses in 2020:

  1. Rotate fields with high levels of frogeye leaf spot into corn or another crop.
  2. If it is still targeted for soybean, look at their soybean varieties frogeye leaf spot resistance scores.  Your seed dealer will have more information.  Plan now for what fields they will go into.
  3. Scout the susceptible cultivars much earlier than what we have called for in the past and monitor levels.

Another pathogen that may be more prevalent after a warm winter is Stewart’s bacterial wilt.  This disease is transmitted to corn by corn flea beetle which survives in greater numbers in warm winters. This is a greater problem in popcorn and sweet corn as most field corn has high levels of resistance to the bacterium.

Most other field crop insect pests in Ohio are not highly influenced by winter conditions as they are well-adapted to withstand cold overwintering conditions.  Once exception is Mexican bean beetle, an occasional pest of soybean (especially in central Ohio).  Warm winter conditions may cause higher populations of this insect the following field season.

Considerations for 2019 Wheat Planting

Source: Andy Michel, Laura Lindsey, Pierce Paul, OSU

With the autumn rapidly approaching, wheat planting is likely to begin soon. Planting after the Hessian fly free date remains the best chance to avoid issues with insects and diseases, as well as helping ensure good agronomic quality.  Some benefits of the fly free date:

Hessian Fly: Adults of the Hessian fly lay eggs in emerging wheat. These eggs then hatch into small larvae that feed before spending the winter as a flaxseed. The early autumn feeding will stress the young wheat plant right before the winter, resulting in stunted and wilted plants.  Very little egg laying occurs after the fly free date, which helps to limit infestation. Wheat varieties with resistance against the Hessian are available, in addition to seed treatments, which can help limit damage.

Aphids: Two main aphids infest wheat in Ohio: the English grain aphid and the bird cherry-oat aphid.  These aphids rarely cause economic injury on wheat from feeding. However, they can transmit several viruses that can severely impact wheat including Barley Yellow Dwarf virus.  These aphids do not only feed on wheat, but several other grasses that serve as natural sources of viruses.  If wheat is planted too early, and emerges before the aphids overwinter or stop feeding, they can be early transmitters of viruses.  Although seed treatments could help kill the aphids, they may survive long enough to transmit the virus to the plant.  Any transmission in the autumn would likely serve as a local source in the following spring.

Other foliar diseases: Although not directly related to the Hessian Fly, planting after the fly free date also helps to reduce the early establishment of leaf diseases like Stagonospora leaf blotch and powdery mildew. Planting date is indirectly linked to spore production by fungi that cause these diseases and infection of young plants. The earlier you plant, the more spores are available, and the more suitable (warmer) conditions are for infection. Fall infections often leads to more damage and greater yield loss in the spring, especially of susceptible varieties are planted and not protected with a fungicide at Feeks 8 (flag leaf emergence). As conditions become cooler after the fly free date, pathogens that cause leaf diseases become last active, and as such, are less likely to infect plants.

What effect will cold temperatures have on pests and pathogens?

Source: the Bulletin, University of Illinois

Many in the Illinois agricultural community are wondering what effects the recent extreme cold might have on pests and pathogens. While it would be nice if the cold temperatures we are experiencing could help to reduce our potential for pest damage, past experience tells us that the most serious pests we deal with are unlikely to be impacted much by these conditions.

Many of the pathogens and insect pests that commonly affect field crops in Illinois are well adapted to survive our winter conditions.  In many cases, pathogens produce recalcitrant survival structures (e.g. cysts in soybean cyst nematode, oospores in Phytophthora, sclerotia in white mold).  These structures allow the pathogen to survive extreme conditions including cold, drought, and flooding. Different species of insects overwinter in different life stages, including eggs (for example, western corn rootworm), larvae (Japanese beetles), pupae (corn earworm, though they do not survive the winter in most of Illinois), or adults (stink bugs). The overwintering stage has characteristics that help these insects to survive the winter, either by adjusting its physiology to better survive the cold, seeking out an overwintering site that protects it (such as soil, tree bark, or leaf litter), or both. The overwintering sites that insects find mean that they are not experiencing the same temperatures that we are when we venture outside. Wind chill has little effect for this reason (even though it has a major, unpleasant effect on us).

Extreme cold temperatures can impact some insects and plant pathogens, particularly those that may not overwinter as well (e.g. powdery mildew).  When cold weather pushes into the Southern regions of the country it can push certain diseases, such as rusts, further south, delaying disease onset in Illinois and other regions further north. The same is true of migratory insects, such as black cutworm and fall armyworm, which do not usually overwinter in Illinois; colder temperatures during winter often delay the arrival of these insects, and may ultimately lead to lower numbers. The opposite is also true – warmer than normal temperatures during the winter can allow these migratory insects to become a problem earlier in the season.

Although cold temperatures may not impact most of the diseases we encounter in Illinois field crops, fluctuation between conditions of cold and warm may have a negative impact on some diseases.  Dormancy by fungican be broken by environmental conditions such as higher temperatures.  This is similar to what occurs in plants, where warm weather may result in trees flushing out buds and flowers.  Consequently, the wide swings in temperature that we have experienced during the 2018/19 winter may negatively impact some diseases. While some insects (such as stink bugs) can also break dormancy during brief warm periods, many of our most serious pests will stay “hunkered down” until the spring and avoid these fluctuations. Unfortunately, insects and plant diseases are unlikely to suffer as much from the recent cold as we have.

Sprouting Soybeans

Source:  Dr. Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension

Soybean sprouting. Photo credit: Amanda Douridas

 

We’ve received a few pictures from around the state of green soybean pods splitting and also seed sprouting out of pods. While it is not uncommon to see pre-harvest pod shatter just prior to harvest due to re-wetting of dry pods, the pictures we’ve received have been of soybeans at the R6 growth stage.

Splitting of green pods may be related to the recent warm, wet (high intensity rainfall), and humid weather. (The Western Agricultural Research Station in Clark County had a high temperature of ≥93°F over a three day period in September followed by 3.5 inches of rain in a four day period.) Wet conditions at the R6 growth stage results in a large seed size that may split pods. Once the soybean pod is open, the seed is susceptible to pre-harvest sprout (germination of seed in the pod prior to harvest). Researchers have found differences in pre-harvest sprout among soybean cultivars.

Another (potential) cause of pre-harvest sprout is insect feeding. Feeding may open the pod where moisture can enter and sprout the seed.

 

 

 

 

Preparation of Grain Bins for Storage of Corn and Soybeans

Source: Curtis Young, OSU Extension Van Wert County

Empty Bin Treatments for Grain Bins for Storage of Corn, Popcorn and Soybeans

First – before using any product to treat grain bins, always read the most current label for the product to assure that the product is used correctly.  This is for the protection of the grain to be stored in the bin as well as for the protection of the applicator of the product.  Labels for products are subject to change from one year to the next, product registrations can be changed and/or canceled and rates may be changed.  Errors made because of not reading the most current label could result in injury to the applicator or contamination of the grain with a non-labeled product making it unsalable.

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Tip Dieback and Zipper Ears in Corn

by: Peter Thomison, Allen Geyer, Bruce Ackley, Alyssa Lamb, and Alison Peart, OSU Extension

Although ear and kernel development appears excellent in many Ohio cornfields, there are reports of incomplete ear fill that are related to poor pollination and kernel abortion. Several factors may have caused this problem. The ovules at the tip of the ear are the last to be pollinated, and under stress, only a limited amount of pollen may be available to germinate late emerging silks. Pollen shed was complete or nearly complete before the silks associated with the tip ovules emerge. As a result, no kernels may be evident on the last two or more inches of the ear tip. Uneven soil conditions and plant development within fields may have magnified this problem. Pollen feeding and silk clipping by corn rootworm beetles and Japanese beetles can also contribute to pollination problems resulting in poorly filled tips and ears.

If plant nutrients (sugars and proteins) are limited during the early stages of kernel development, then kernels at the tip of the ear may abort. Kernels at the tip of the ear are the last to be pollinated and cannot compete as effectively for nutrients as kernels formed earlier. Although we usually associate this problem with drought conditions, the stress conditions that occurred this year, such as N deficiency, excessive soil moisture and foliar disease damage, may cause a shortage of nutrients that lead to kernel abortion. Periods of cloudy weather following pollination, or the mutual shading from high plant populations can also contribute to kernel abortion. Agronomists and farmers characterize the poor pollination and kernel abortion that occurs at the tip of the ear as “tip dieback”, “tip-back”, or “nosing back”, although poor pollination is usually the factor affecting poor kernel set at the tip. Kernel abortion may be distinguished from poor pollination of tip kernels by color. Aborted kernels and ovules not fertilized will both appear dried up and shrunken; however aborted kernels often have a slight yellowish color.

“Zipper ears” are another ear development problem evident in some fields. Zipper ears exhibit missing kernel rows (often on the side of the cob away from the stalk that give sort of “a zippering look on the ears”).  The zippering is due to kernels that are poorly developed and/or ovules that have aborted and/or not pollinated. Zippering often extends most of the cob’s length and is often associated with a curvature of the cob, to such an extent that zipper ears are also referred to as “banana ears”. Zipper ears are often associated with corn plants that have experienced drought stress during early grain fill. Ohio studies indicate that some hybrids are more susceptible to zippering than others are and that zippering among such hybrids is more pronounced at higher seeding rates. Zippering has also been observed in corn plants subject to severe defoliation during the late silk and early blister stages.

Will Soybean Aphids Reach Threshold This Year?

by: Andy Michel, Kelley Tilmon, OSU Extension

We have heard from a few extension educators and scouts that soybean aphids are starting to make their appearance.  Right now, the number of infested plants is very low (around 5%) and the number of aphids on the plants is also low (average 5-10).  With this level of infestation, it is highly doubtful that soybean aphids will reach threshold, especially in soybean that has already entered the late R stages (R5 and R6).  However, there is a fair amount of late planted soybean that could still be at risk—in fact we were in a field last week that just reached R2.  We recommend that growers continue to scout their fields to make sure that soybean aphid populations remain under the treatment threshold which is 250 aphids per plant.