With warmer temperatures and plants springing to life, farmer’s thoughts are shifting to planting crops. There are many aspects to consider when developing a plan for the growing season. A key part is having a solid pest management system in place.  This includes preparing for black cutworm.

“Black cutworm is a sporadic pest in Indiana,” said Betsy Bower, Ceres Solutions agronomist. “This insect does not overwinter here, but moths migrate from the south on spring wind currents.” 

The life cycle for these pests in Indiana begins this time of year when moths arrive during April and May and begin to lay their eggs. According to Bower, the moths are attracted to pre-existing vegetation. This includes weedy fields, fields that are no-till, and fields adjacent to areas of permanent vegetation. 

Though early feeding from newly hatched larvae is of little significance to plants, these early signs are indicators of the potential for severe damage. Larger larvae may notch the stems of seedlings below the soil surface which results in extreme stand reductions.

“One of the keys in prevention is to burn down fields at least three weeks before planting,” said Bower. According to Bower, if the burndown occurs within a week or two of planting or if planting into a weedy field, it’s best to tank mix a pyrethroid insecticide with the herbicide.  “These insecticides are relatively inexpensive and can provide some residual control of smaller or soon to hatch larvae as the weeds desiccate.”

Another preventative measure is to plant a hybrid that includes a trait with protection against black cutworm. “We have many great options that will work well with not only your soil type, but that have the traits that can defend the plant against black cutworm.”

Bower said Ceres Solutions Agronomy branches are able to develop a plan for farmers to prevent any insect damage this spring by being knowledgeable in what products work best in specific areas.

The company’s branch locator is at www.ceresllp.com.