Dave Nanda writes the Corn Illustrated item that appears in many Farm Progress magazines each month. It also carries the head 'Breeder's journal.' Right now Nanda is urging everyone with corn popping up to get to the field to check for black cutworm, at least in areas where black cutworm is typically a problem in some years. That's essentially the central and Easter Corn Belt.
Nanda, a crops consultant and director of agronomy and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc., a seed company based in Ohio, says that black cutworm moth flights into the Corn Belt were very heavy this spring. This insect does not overwinter this far north, but instead overwinters in the Gulf. Moths ride spring storm currents northward, and lay eggs, especially in fields with green vegetation. Moth flights have been near historic levels in some locations this year. Purdue University entomologists John Obermeyer and Christian Krupke credit storms the third to fourth week of March with bringing the moths into this area.
Nanda says that the problem will be some people will think they are protected when they may not be. If it was a year where a light infestation was expected, it might be a. But if you applied s seed-coated insecticide hoping to have it care of black cutworm control, it can get overrun by a heavy infestation. It aids in suppression and control, but is not designed to handle a large infestation.
The same is true of some genetic traits. This may depend upon t he exact GMO trait that is in the corn that you planted. However, it's possible that in certain areas the infestation could be so severe that not even GMO protection will provide 100% control, depending on the strength and control capabilities of the trait.
The answer is scouting and being prepared for rescue treatments, Nanda says. Windshield scouting won't do the job here. This pest may be heavy in some areas of the field and not others. You need a comprehensive walk across each field to determine if you see signs of black cutworm damage or not. If you do and there are larvae approaching the fourth instar stage, consult with your local dealer about spraying an insecticide treatment to prevent further cutting of corn plants.