Missouri farms battling insect intruders

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Two weeks ago, Chaffee, Mo., farmer Charles Hinkebein noticed unwelcome guests in his 800-acre cornfield.

A pesky group of armyworms had helped themselves to foliage of the corn.

So Hinkebein and his employees sprayed Warrior insecticide to rid his field of the pests.

"Fortunately, we didn't have very much damage," Hinkebein said Tuesday morning during a break from irrigating his cornfield. "If we had waited three more weeks, we would have had major damage to the corn."

Because of the delayed planting of corn, soybeans and other crops, farmers throughout the state have been battling armyworms and cutworms. Armyworms are the larvae of sand-colored moths with a small, prominent white spot in the center of each forewing; cutworms are the larvae of moths with a small black dagger marking on each forewing, according to the University of Missouri Extension Center.

Gerald Bryan, an agronomist and director of the Cape Girardeau County University of Missouri Extension Office in Jackson, said a problem in Southeast Missouri is the sporadic havoc armyworms have wreaked on farmers' crops.

A large number of armyworms can spread overnight into a seedling cornfield. Southeast Missouri State University professor of agriculture Wes Mueller said that speed is one of the most threatening elements of armyworms.

Mueller said that while he hasn't personally heard of widespread problems in the region with either cutworms or armyworms, he said they can equally damage fields.

"These moths can swoop in and out just like that," Mueller said. "I'm sure it's a headache for the area farmers to deal with any of the problems related to cutworms and armyworms."

Mueller knows first-hand the damage the moths can cause.

A few years ago, Mueller said he had a beautifully landscaped front yard. The next morning, the armyworms had infested his property overnight, severely damaging his lawn.

"One day I had this amazing-looking yard and then by the next morning it was all gone," Mueller recalled. "That's how destructive they can be. One minute everything is OK, and then the next moment so many of them have moved in that the situation turns ugly."

Last month, farmers in Southeast Missouri dealt with damage to their soybean crop caused by cutworms, though the majority of soybeans were cut by the majority of farmers by July 1, MU Extension entomologist Wayne Bailey said.

A University of Missouri report released in late June, said that like armyworms, cutworms have thrived this year because of wet weather, heavier weed cover and delayed planting.

"In the Mississippi and New Madrid river bottoms, we were under water for six weeks in some places," wrote Kelly Tindall, University of Missouri field entomologist at the Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo., in the report. "So what should have been planted in April or May didn't get in until late May or early June.

Tindall added that while it's not unusual for the cutworms to show up in fields, "it's unusual to get them so late in the year."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137Mueller said that while he hasn't personally heard of widespread problems in the region with either cutworms or armyworms, he said they can equally damage fields.

"These moths can swoop in and out just like that," Mueller said. "I'm sure it's a headache for the area farmers to deal with any of the problems related to cutworms and armyworms."

Mueller knows first-hand the damage the moths can cause.

A few years ago, Mueller said he had a beautifully landscaped front yard. The next morning, the armyworms had infested his property overnight, severely damaging his lawn.

"One day I had this amazing-looking yard and then by the next morning it was all gone," Mueller recalled. "That's how destructive they can be. One minute everything is OK, and then the next moment so many of them have moved in that the situation turns ugly."

Last month, farmers in Southeast Missouri dealt with damage to their soybean crop caused by cutworms, though the majority of soybeans were cut by the majority of farmers by July 1, MU Extension entomologist Wayne Bailey said.

A University of Missouri report released in late June, said that like armyworms, cutworms have thrived this year because of wet weather, heavier weed cover and delayed planting.

"In the Mississippi and New Madrid river bottoms, we were under water for six weeks in some places," wrote Kelly Tindall, University of Missouri field entomologist at the Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo., in the report. "So what should have been planted in April or May didn't get in until late May or early June.

Tindall added that while it's not unusual for the cutworms to show up in fields, "it's unusual to get them so late in the year."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137hasn't personally heard of widespread problems in the region with either cutworms or armyworms, he said they can equally damage fields.

"These moths can swoop in and out just like that," Mueller said. "I'm sure it's a headache for the area farmers to deal with any of the problems related to cutworms and armyworms."

Mueller knows first-hand the damage the moths can cause.

A few years ago, Mueller said he had a beautifully landscaped front yard. The next morning, the armyworms had infested his property overnight, severely damaging his lawn.

"One day I had this amazing-looking yard and then by the next morning it was all gone," Mueller recalled. "That's how destructive they can be. One minute everything is OK, and then the next moment so many of them have moved in that the situation turns ugly."

Last month, farmers in Southeast Missouri dealt with damage to their soybean crop caused by cutworms, though the majority of soybeans were cut by the majority of farmers by July 1, MU Extension entomologist Wayne Bailey said.

A University of Missouri report released in late June, said that like armyworms, cutworms have thrived this year because of wet weather, heavier weed cover and delayed planting.

"In the Mississippi and New Madrid river bottoms, we were under water for six weeks in some places," wrote Kelly Tindall, University of Missouri field entomologist at the Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo., in the report. "So what should have been planted in April or May didn't get in until late May or early June.

Tindall added that while it's not unusual for the cutworms to show up in fields, "it's unusual to get them so late in the year."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137hasn't personally heard of widespread problems in the region with either cutworms or armyworms, he said they can equally damage fields.

"These moths can swoop in and out just like that," Mueller said. "I'm sure it's a headache for the area farmers to deal with any of the problems related to cutworms and armyworms."

Mueller knows first-hand the damage the moths can cause.

A few years ago, Mueller said, he had a beautifully landscaped front yard. The next morning, the armyworms had infested his property overnight, severely damaging his lawn.

"One day I had this amazing-looking yard and then by the next morning it was all gone," Mueller recalled. "That's how destructive they can be. One minute everything is OK, and then the next moment so many of them have moved in that the situation turns ugly."

Last month, farmers in Southeast Missouri dealt with damage to their soybean crop caused by cutworms, though the majority of soybeans were cut by the majority of farmers by July 1, MU Extension entomologist Wayne Bailey said.

A University of Missouri report released in late June said that like armyworms, cutworms have thrived this year because of wet weather, heavier weed cover and delayed planting.

"In the Mississippi and New Madrid river bottoms, we were under water for six weeks in some places," wrote Kelly Tindall, University of Missouri field entomologist at the Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo., in the report. "So what should have been planted in April or May didn't get in until late May or early June.

Tindall added that while it's not unusual for the cutworms to show up in fields, "it's unusual to get them so late in the year."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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