At this time of year, farmers have their eyes on the harvest prize. But there’s always the potential for one last round of late-season pests to get in the way. Fortunately, more and more online tools are available to track key insects for quicker decision-making.
At insectforecast.com, corn farmers can track relative risk in their area for western bean cutworm, corn earworm and corn rootworm. The site, sponsored by Monsanto’s Genuity brand, was developed by climatologist and meteorologist Mike Sandstrom. The website reports on moth trapping data and weather patterns to determine one day, two day and extended threat levels for these insects.
Sandstrom says some farmers look at the calendar instead of the crop when deciding when to scout for insects, and he says this tool can help them be more proactive in that process.
"This gives them lead time instead of looking back on the problem," he says. "Growers like the proactivity of the product – otherwise, they might have missed opportunities."
Farmers can review color-coded forecast maps on the website and also sign up to receive email alerts from May through September. Luke Samuel, Monsanto corn insect traits manager, says scouting this year will help set the stage for next year.
"Each field experiences different insect pressure, and to get more corn per acre, farmers need to have a solid understanding of the level of pressure and type of pests they are dealing with in order to choose the best corn traits to address those challenges."
Soybean farmers have an online pest resource as well. The Pest Patrol hotline aims to connect farmers and retailers with expert advice and timely pest management recommendations throughout the season for soybean aphids, Japanese beetle and other damaging insects. Farmers can visit www.SyngentaPestPatrol.com or call (877) 285-8525 to hear reports from the company’s regional agronomists. They can also sign up to receive text alerts when new updates are posted.
Syngenta also recently unleashed the "Bug Squad" – a group of company experts committed to engaging customers on Twitter, at industry events and elsewhere. The group was created to offer insights, recommendations and solutions for insect management. If you have a corn insect question, tweet it with the hashtag #BugSquad and they will answer it.