Protect Corn Ears from a Feeding Frenzy

Categories: GROWING, CORN
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According to Golden Harvest agronomists at the York, Nebraska, Agronomy in Action site, Western bean cutworm and corn earworm have been major issues for Nebraska farmers the last few seasons. While farmers may think a few kernels lost here and there don’t add up, small losses can have a real yield impact. As agronomists shared, a 3-kernel loss from each ear of corn at 30,000 plants per acre can equal a 1-bushel yield loss. Additionally, the feeding damage can allow diseases to infect the ears reducing quality. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

Western bean cutworm – Western bean cutworm larvae, which hatch a dark color and mature to a tan hue, seek out the whorl of the corn plant to begin feeding on the tassel and pollen. As the ear shoots emerge, the larvae migrate to the ear and feed on silks and developing kernels. The larvae drop to the ground when fully developed and burrow down to overwinter up to an inch below the surface before emerging in the summer as moths.

Corn earworm – Corn earworm can be one of the most destructive pests in corn fields, feeding on silks and kernels. During the larval stage, corn earworms can reach up to 1.5 inches in length with four prolegs. If not controlled early, the population is highest and most damaging later in the season and into harvest.

Nebraska farmers who have had issues with these pests may consider selecting a corn hybrid with the Agrisure Viptera® trait for season-long control. Agrisure Viptera helps reduce yield loss by preventing ear feeding of both western bean cutworm and corn earworm, preserving grain quality.

Contact your Golden Harvest Seed Advisor with questions or for additional agronomic insights.

Photos are either the property of Syngenta or used under agreement.

Syngenta hereby disclaims liability for third-party websites.


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