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

Ready to manage spider mites?

With the current hot and dry weather conditions in Ohio, we expect to hear reports of spider mite outbreaks on specialty crops. Because mites are tiny, they are often overlooked or misdiagnosed as a disease. Infested leaves have fine webbing on the leaf undersides. Tomato leaves damaged by spider mites usually have yellow blotches, while bean leaves show white stipples or pin-prick markings from mite feeding. Pumpkins can tolerate moderate levels of mites, but watermelons are more sensitive to injury from mite feeding. A simple method of diagnosing spider mites is to shake leaves over a piece of paper and look for moving specks that are visible to the naked eye. A closer look with a magnifier can show the tiny mites that are white, marked with two large dark spots on the middle of the body.

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Drought Projections Do Not Go Well With Fungicide Applications

Source: Anne Dorrance, Pierce Paul, OSU

Several calls this past week for fungicide applications on corn and soybean at all different growth stages.  So let’s review what might be at stake here.

Soybeans.  Frogeye leaf spot and white mold on susceptible varieties when the environment is favorable for disease easily pay the cost of application plus save yield losses.  Let’s dig a bit deeper.  Both of these diseases are caused by fungi but frogeye leaf spot is a polycyclic disease, meaning that multiple infections occur on new leaves through the season while white mold is monocyclic and the plant is really only susceptible during the flowering stage.  Both of these diseases are also limited geographically in the state.  White mold is favored in North East Ohio and down through the central region where fields are smaller and air flow can be an issue.  Frogeye has been found on highly susceptible varieties south of 70, but it is moving a bit north so it is one that I am watching.

White mold is also favored by closed canopy, cool nights and high relative humidity.  So farmers in these areas should double check their variety ratings first.  If it is moderate to low score for resistance (read the fine print) then this year a spray may be warranted.  We have gotten consistent control of white mold with Endura at R1.  Herbicides that are labeled for white mold suppression have also knocked back this disease, but if a drought occurs or no disease develops, losses of 10% or greater can occur due to the spray alone.  For these purposes R1 is a flower on the bottom of 1/3 of the plants in the field.

Frogeye leaf spot –There also must be some inoculum or low level of disease present in the field for this disease to cause substantial and measurable yield losses.   This disease will only move in the canopy when there is regular rainfall.  And again only on susceptible varieties. With dry weather, this will sit and hold. Time to scout for this will be at the end of flowering if it can be found in the field.  With drought conditions, the disease will not impact the crop.

The story is very similar from a corn pathology standpoint. Most of our major diseases (gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, eye spot) are driven by wet, humid conditions, consequently, the dry weather we have experienced over the last several days will keep most diseases in check. Fungicides are not warranted under these conditions; it just does not pay. Although some product labels may mention yield responses under drought-like condition, our data do not support such a benefit. We see the highest yield responses when fungicides are applied to susceptible hybrids at VT-R1 under disease-favorable conditions. These conditions would include extended periods of dew and high relative humidity, especially during the early- to mid-morning hours.

For a disease like southern rust that usually blows up from the south, and tar spot, an emerging disease of increasing concern in the state, fields should be scouted before making an application. Both diseases develop well under warm conditions, but they also need moisture and high relative humidity to spread. In the case of tar spot, based on what we have seen in 2018 and 2019, it usually develops well into grain fill (R4-R5), and as such, may have little effect on grain yield. Data from some states in the western half of the corn belt show that when tar spot develops early, yield loss may be substantial. The same is true for early southern rust development. So, scout fields to see what is out there and at what level before investing in fungicide application.

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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Distribution of Waterhemp and Palmer Amaranth in Ohio

Source: Dr. Mark Loux

The maps that accompany this article show our current knowledge of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth distribution in Ohio.  These are based on information from a survey of OSU Extension County Educators, along with information we had from samples submitted, direct contacts, etc.  We still consider any new introductions of Palmer amaranth to be from an external source (brought in from outside Ohio) – hay or feed, infested equipment, CRP/cover/wildlife seedings.  Palmer is not really spreading around the state, and as the map shows, we have had a number of introductions that were immediately remediated.  The number of counties where an infestation(s) is being managed is still low, and within those counties, the outbreak occurs in only a few fields still.  Waterhemp is much more widespread in Ohio and is spreading rapidly within the state from existing infestations to new areas via equipment, water, animals, etc.  We do not have Ag Educators in all counties, and even where we do, infestations can occur without us knowing about them.  Feel free to contact us with new information to update the maps.

Among the weed photos sent to the Agronomy Team members for identification, a fair number lately has been for the purposes of “pigweed” identification.  “Pigweed” as used here can refer to waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, spiny amaranth, Powell amaranth, and redroot/smooth pigweed (these two are mostly the same for ID/control purposes).  It’s almost impossible to tell these apart when they are very small, but this gets easier by the time they are 4 inches tall.  Waterhemp and Smooth/redroot pigweed are still the most common.  Waterhemp is smooth all over with a somewhat elongated leaf with smooth edges, and leaves sometimes can be a darker and glossier green than pigweed.  Smooth/redroot pigweed will have a hairy/rough stem (more defined as it gets larger), with relatively nonglossy leaves that are widest in the middle with “rougher” edges.  Various resources are available to help with identification, including our pigweed ID fact sheet and Youtube video.  Identification of pigweeds is not necessarily straight forward, so feel free to contact your local extension educator or OSU weed scientists (loux.1@osu.edu or ackley.19@osu.edu) for help with identification.

Corn and Soybean Seedling Blights

Source: Dr. Anne Dorrance, OSU

Low stands or poor development of plants is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for fields that were planted in many regions of Ohio with heavy soil or are poorly drained soil.  Symptoms include skips, missing plants, or dried up and brown seedlings.  There may also be, wilting plants with and rotten, brown, decaying spots or lesions on the roots. Now is an excellent time to scout stands and check to be sure that the fields are not just crusted over – and that the seeds and seedlings that are there are still healthy.

While there, dig up a few of the affected plants, if the roots are brown and soft, the seedling will die eventually or be very weak.  So don’t count them as part of your total stand.  On soybeans check to see if there are nodules, the corky looking knobs on the roots that help legumes fix nitrogen.  The cold, wet weather does not favor nodulation, so this may take a bit longer, for now, native Rhizobium spp. to get a foothold in the plants.  Once the plants have nodules, they will recover and grow.  On corn, the root (mesocotyl) between the young seedling and the seed, should be white.  If it is dark brown or soft, this will also be a weakened plant.  Some pathogens, if the environment is right, will continue to multiply and grow to kill the seedling.

For management, improving soil drainage, and having at least two ingredients in the seed treatment mixture targeting water molds (Pythium and Phytophthora) are necessary for the challenging areas in Ohio that have a history of replanting.  If you do have to replant, take a look at what the seed treatment package is and note what is in the mix.  The one caution, though, is if the field was submerged for more than 24-48 hours (Ponding), this is flood injury, and there are no seed treatments for this.

Is It Nitrogen or Sulfur Deficiency Symptoms

Source: Dr. John Sawyer, Iowa State Univ.

Yellowing of corn plants early in the season can be confusing to diagnose. And in some conditions there may be a period of time after corn emergence where small corn just does not look good. There can be a number of causes for plant yellowing. An example is the description in a recent ICM Blog by Alison Robertson (Anthracnose leaf blight prevalent in corn fields). Other reasons for yellow corn tissue are varied such as waterlogged soils, cold temperatures, herbicide issues, potassium deficiency (typically older leaf margins), etc. Two reasons that can be confusing due to similar plant symptoms are nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) deficiency.

Nitrogen deficiency. Classic symptom description is yellowing of lower (older) leaves, from the leaf tip to the base down the midrib.

Sulfur deficiency. Classic symptom description is yellowing of new leaves (in the whorl, sometimes with interveinal striping), with lower (older) leaves remaining uniform green (Figure 1).

However, both N and S are tied together due to several common physiological process, therefore, early growth symptoms can be similar. Examples including overall leaf and plant yellowing, spindly plants, and interveinal striping. These similar symptoms most often occur when plants are small and there is severe deficiency (low soil supply and no fertilization). Also, plant response from fertilizer application can be quite similar for N and S, that is, good growth and green plants with uniform coloration (Figure 2). Sulfur does not move as readily in plants as N, so symptoms should differentiate on different plant parts. However, with young plants, early onset of symptoms, and with large and prolonged deficiency, such differentiation may not happen (Figures 2 and 3). One way to determine if an early season deficiency is N or S is to hand apply some S and N fertilizer to different areas and see if the plants green up.

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Early Season Cucurbit Pests

Jim Jasinski, Dept. of Extension, Celeste Welty, Dept. of Entomology

Although it’s been wet over most of the state recently, the temperatures are warming up allowing growers to get into their fields to direct seed or transplant pumpkin, squash, melon and cucumbers through May and into June. By now most decisions about how to manage key early season pests may have already been made with the purchase of systemic seed treatment or plans to treat transplant water using neonicotinoid insecticides. Some growers may have decided to forego systemic treatments and rely on scouting and treatment using foliar insecticides when thresholds are exceeded.

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