Farmers should expect to see an unusually thick wave of insect and pest populations in crops across the state, which outdoors experts blame on widespread flooding in the spring and early summer and late-season planting.
Experts with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said some of the pests include stink bugs infesting rice fields and corn earworms in the soybean crop; they first appeared in large numbers in grain sorghum fields several weeks earlier.
Gus Lorenz, an extension entomologist in Lonoke, said personnel there are seeing anywhere from 75 to 100 corn earworms per 25 sweeps — going through rows with a large, handheld insect net and periodically counting the number of insects gathered in the process.
Lorenz said the dense pest presence is a typical challenge associated with late-planted crops.
In rice, stink bugs use their saliva to liquefy the grain, causing the discoloration of the kernel and resulting in pecky rice, Lorenz said. That can be a heavy financial burden on the farmer because of yield reductions.
"When the farmer cuts this rice that has heavy infestations of stink bugs, when they get a certain amount of this pecky rice, they get big discounts, and it makes it very difficult to turn a profit," he said.
Lorenz said the sheer number of insects in some fields combined with speedy reproduction rates can make it increasingly difficult to save a crop, even with the use of pesticides.
"If you get 90 percent control with your insecticide, it's not even enough," he said.
Lorenz advised planters to scout fields for pests often and to contact their respective cooperative extension service for guidance on the use of appropriate pesticide mixes.