Pioneer Agronomist Reports On Southern Corn Pests To Watch In 2022

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With planting well underway in the South, scouting early and often can be the difference between a good and great yield. Cornfields should be scouted weekly from emergence until plants are roughly 12 inches tall.

Cutworms can be particularly damaging to corn from planting through mid-June. Late-planted, wet fields are likely targets for infestation. Leaf feeding is the first sign of cutworms. Farmers should look for small, irregular holes in leaves and cut plants.

Billbugs and stink bugs are other pests to watch for in 2022. Both feed on corn seedlings and may cause “suckering,” or tiller development. Most stink bug injuries occur through V5 and plants with injured stalks or growing points may be stunted or die. Heavy infestation can cause significant stand loss.

“Stink bugs and other pest feeding usually occurs early, feeding on stalks and leaves,” said Todd Rowe, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “Growers should get in their fields after emergence to look for damage. For stink bugs in particular, the treatment level is 13 or more bugs per 100 plants.”

Insecticide seed treatments can be effective, but the pest’s large size and its feeding method make control difficult. Where severe damage is expected it may be possible to apply a labeled pesticide for adult control.

Continued scouting is crucial to ensure the highest yield potential. While pests usually infest early in the season, they can also damage corn during tasseling, silking and grain fill.