Getting an Early Jump on Western Bean Cutworm Control

  • Mar 21
    Kirk Van Will
    Getting an Early Jump on Western Bean Cutworm Control By Kirk Van Will on March 21, 2017
    Categories: Grain Corn, Silage Corn

    What was the hottest topic on the winter meeting circuit for 2017?  Western Bean Cutworm (WBC)!  This pest isn’t new, but 2016 was likely it’s most wide spread attack on Ontario corn.  WBC is partially to blame for the high vomitoxin test levels.  The number one question arising from this topic at meetings: “Will the WBC be back in my fields next year?”  The quick answer – YES! 


    4 Action Items Before Spring to Minimize WBC Impact


    1. Know Your Hybrid Flowering Dates – this will help you with post planting management activities.

    • WBC prefers to lay their eggs on vertical leaves just before tasseling.  
    • There can be large differences in flowering dates between hybrids that are of the same relative maturity.

    Kirk’s Komments

    • Do not use a split planter approach with hybrids that have large differences in flowering dates.  This will pose a control risk if you determine you need to spray.
    • Plant in blocks so you can manage accordingly.

    2. Know Your Soil Type

    • History has told us that the lighter soils will tend to have a heavier pressure of WBC.

    Kirk’s Komments

    • There are instances where you could plant an early flowering hybrid (it just needs to be earlier than your neighbour) to help lower the risk on lighter soils.


    3. Control plant uniformity (this means before and after planting)

    • Make sure you take the time to look over your planter.  It can be very hard sometimes to distinguish worn parts unless you have a new one in your hand.
    • In 2016, we had a larger percentage of plants that became laggards for many reasons:
      • The soil was not fit.
      • Cold temperatures and cold rain right after planting.
      • Drought in season that caused delays in silking by soil type.

    Kirk’s Komments

    • A well maintained planter with or without all the fancy bells and whistles can do an excellent job, BUT only if the operator takes the time to get off of the tractor seat.
    • Laggards are attractive to WBC and will significantly raise the vomitoxin level in your final sample.

    4. Control Products

    • Controlling WBC means spraying an insecticide at tasseling time.  Not every farmer/retailer will be equipped to handle this application.
    • For aerial applications, permits need to be filled out.  There is lots of time before you get busy to do this paperwork.
    • Discuss with your retailer your potential needs or get some feedback as to what they need from you in the event you need to spray.  This is not an application that you will want to leave until last minute.

    Kirk’s Komments

    • Pay attention to price and active ingredients.  There are single vs multiple modes of action products out there.  If one product costs more, take the time to ask why. 
    • All Class 2 pesticides need an MOE permit for aerial application.


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