Ty Vaughn, Monsanto’s Corn Product Management Lead, answers questions regarding some of the weather and agronomic challenges growers are facing across the Corn Belt.
How is the season progressing this year?
This year, agriculture is being challenged with a widespread lack of moisture and this, in turn, is creating immense stress on corn and soybean crops. This situation began in 2011 with a very hot and dry fall, which was then followed by an unusually warm and dry winter. In addition, the warm spring accelerated planting and some of the challenges that normally appear later in the season, such as corn rootworm pressure.
Earlier this month, Dr. Mike Gray of the University of Illinois reported on a field in Central Illinois where a grower experienced corn rootworm feeding on some plants (The Bulletin http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=1660). Dr. Gray has also reported that adult corn rootworm emergence this year is the earlier he has seen in his career. Typically, these pests are not observed until around the July 4th holiday. Seed company representatives, including from local field personnel from Monsanto, inspected the roots on farm. In the case of one field, the root system of some plants was observed to have been damaged by corn rootworm larvae. However, the inspection of several other surrounding fields and farms showed substantial variation in the amount of corn rootworm feeding on plants. This indicates these situations were localized to specific fields with specific histories.
Why does field history matter?
Many of the fields in Illinois, as well as across the Corn Belt, have a history of corn-on-corn rotation practices. This year, many of these fields are also exhibiting intense drought stress. High levels of corn rootworm damage are common with drought-stressed corn because the roots are not able to develop properly. (See the blog posted earlier this month by one of Monsanto’s agronomists based in Illinois.)
In addition, it is possible for corn rootworm damage to be magnified in fields this season that were planted late last year because late-planted fields became magnets for female corn rootworm adults, which laid eggs and gave rise to the corn rootworm larvae we see this year. In some instances, an overwhelming number of corn rootworm larvae hatched in 2012, and these fields may now show extremely high pressure. As such, these fields will require additional management during the 2012 season regardless of the corn rootworm trait technology planted to the field.
What should growers do?
We recommend that corn growers scout their fields early this season. If growers planted their corn late last year or planted another year of continuous corn, scouting will help determine if any additional treatment is needed in 2012. Growers should pay special attention to fields that may attract female corn rootworm this fall so that the best management practices can be used next season as well.
It is important to note that the vast majority of fields with such high corn rootworm pressure can be drastically reduced, and in some cases remedied, with the use of a one-year rotation to an alternative crop such as soybeans. This practice limits corn rootworm survival in the field because the insects require feeding on corn roots to survive. Crop rotation is the simplest, most effective means of control.
How is Monsanto helping growers?
Our sales representatives, agronomists and dealers work with growers to understand the circumstances and the history of the field to provide agronomic solutions that maximize productivity.
This summer, Monsanto will be hosting Corn-on-Corn Clinics this summer in Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado to provide farmers with management recommendations from academics and other industry experts for maximizing yield potential associated with corn-on-corn acres. Farmers can obtain additional information and register online at http://www.genuity.com/corn/Pages/Corn-on-Corn-Clinics.aspx.
In addition, we have recently added additional technical reps in the field that will be focused on Insect Management working with key academics. They will also provide information and training to our sales teams, agronomy staff, and our technical representatives, to provide the best recommendations to our dealers and customers. Currently we have added these specialists across the central and western Corn Belt.
• Managing Corn Rootworm in 2012: Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska
• Managing Corn Rootworm in 2012: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa
• 2012 Genuity Corn-on-Corn Clinics
• Hot, Dry Weather Causes Root Concerns
• Looking Ahead to the 2012 Corn Planting Season