Looking for Western Bean Cutworm – did you forget to stop & smell the roses?

  • Jul 28
    Kirk Van Will
    Looking for Western Bean Cutworm – did you forget to stop & smell the roses? By Kirk Van Will on July 28, 2017
    Categories: Crop Physiology, Tips

    Tons of farmers, crop scouts, CCAs and entomologists have been entering Ontario corn fields at a record pace these past two weeks in search of Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) egg masses.  While in these fields, did you stop to assess the finer points of your work?  Pollination stage, yield potential, solar panel efficiency – all likely as important or maybe more important than finding an egg mass – yet did we really pay attention?

    The cob on the left is unpollinated as the silks remain attached to each ovule (kernel).  Pollination begins from the bottom (butt) of the cob and works its way to the tip of the cob.  The cob on the right is almost pollinated except for the tip as indicated by the remaining silks still attached to the tip.

    I pulled every 5th cob in a 17’ 5” plant row while looking for WBC eggs.  The number of kernel rows was established around 7-8 leaf, while the number of kernels per row was established just before tasseling.  Consider this your midterm report card – how well was your management up to this point?  In Figure 2 the average of the 6 cobs was [18.3x42.3 x 30000 plants/ac] /95000 kernels per bushel (arbitrary # of kernels /bu for today) = 244 bushel /ac potential.  Yes, you will lose some kernels, but how many?  Your next job is to protect & nurture as many of those kernels as possible – minimize your losses.

    Are your solar panels working to the max?  Your plant’s engine is fueled by solar radiation. We need lots of energy to fill the kernels we found in Figure 2.  If you find a lot of sunlight hitting the ground, now is a great time to assess the possible causes. 

    If you haven’t taken the time to note these few items on your 1st visit, no need to worry as scouting for WBC seems to be a multiple trip event!  


    Kirk Van Will

    Maizex Seed Territory Manager 

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