Bug Off, Japanese Beetle
The Japanese beetle is becoming an increasingly prevalent pest in the north-central region of the U.S. and can occasionally be an economic problem in soybean and corn fields, says Kelley Tilmon, South Dakota State University Extension soybean entomologist.
Japanese beetles are metallic green and copper colored and can be up to a 1⁄2" long. Adults feed on the leaves and flowers of more than 300 plant species.
"Only in recent years have they become common in the Midwest," Tilmon says. In soybeans they cause defoliation of leaves, which reduces photosynthesis; in corn they feed on silks, reducing kernel set.
Japanese beetles have one generation per year and overwinter as grubs in the soil. Adults emerge in late May or early June and can be found through early September. Feeding damage is most noticeable in July and August.
Soybeans can bear a fair amount of defoliation before yield is lost, so modest numbers of Japanese beetles and other defoliators can be tolerated.
Tilmon says to consider control measures when total defoliation from all leaf-feeding pests reaches 40% in pre-bloom, 20% during bloom and pod-fill and 35% from pod-fill to harvest. Consider the entire plant when making this decision, not just upper leaves. If beetles are aggregated in border rows, consider an edge treatment first.
Corn Seed Brands Merge
Seeds of change are in progress for Syngenta. Company officials announced they are merging two of their seed corn brands, Garst and Golden Harvest, and implementing a new focus for Syngenta’s network of seed advisers.
To better meet farmer needs and simplify the decision-making processes, the Midwest-based network of Syngenta dealers will now advise farmers on seed treatments and crop protection products in addition to seed.
"For example, based on pressure from rootworm or other insects, [the adviser] can recommend the right trait package while understanding that a seed treatment or soil insecticide might help boost crop performance," explains Colin Steen, head of the company’s dealer channel commercial unit.
After this fall, existing Garst hybrids will be sold under a revised Golden Harvest seed brand. A new hybrid numbering system and logo for Golden Harvest will be in place for 2013 field trials and the 2014 planting season.
The Garst and Thomas Seed Corn Co. was founded in 1930 by Roswell Garst and Charles Thomas in Coon Rapids, Iowa.
"We respect the rich history and heritage of both the Garst and Golden Harvest brands," Steen says. "But we’re in a position now where we can better serve our customers by bringing them together under a single corn brand."
Syngenta expects to close the Coon Rapids Garst plant by the end of the year.
Going to a single corn brand streamlines logistics for the seed advisers, from the seed ordering process through inventory and delivery, Steen says. "Combined with the numerous operational improvements we’ve made, we’ll be able to give growers quicker and better access to products," he adds.
No Drift Zone
The potential for herbicide drift is an issue farmers and pesticide applicators address every spring. A new non-profit company, FieldWatch Inc., hopes to help farmers address and minimize drift concerns with spe-cialty crops by enhancing communication between the farmers and product applicators.
FieldWatch is based on a specialty crop registry program and is used in nine states: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
The company, formally launched late this past year, originated in 2008 as DriftWatch by Purdue University.
Reid Sprenkel, president and CEO of FieldWatch, says the ultimate plan for the registry is to help members of the agriculture industry "identify, map and communicate where high-value, pesticide-sensitive crops are being grown."
Specialty crop producers identify their crops and locations by registering online. That then allows pesticide applicators and producers to evaluate where the specialty crops are in relation to where they are spraying.
More information on the program is available at www.fieldwatch.com.