Corn Yield Enemy #1

Published on: 12:45PM Jan 14, 2011

Caydee Savinelli

Corn rootworms. Often referred to as the “billion-dollar pest,” they are considered the top insect problem across most of the Corn Belt. We use traits, insecticides, crop rotations and often a combination of all three to fight them, because we’ve seen them adapt over time.
We know corn rootworms nibble away at yields. Here’s how:
  • As they eat into roots, they instantly make plants more susceptible to disease that can enter through those damaged points.
  • Injured roots are less able to absorb and transport water and nutrients to help the plant grow.
  • Any damage to the plant increases the stress on the plant – on top of other stresses like temperature, moisture, other insects, weed competition, etc.
  • Corn rootworm feeding can inhibit the formation of brace roots. Weak brace roots often result in lodging or goose-necking, which as you know can make harvest challenging.

Root growth leads directly to yield at the end of the season, which is why many growers combine traits, seed treatments and soil-applied insecticides to protect them. What do you rely on for corn rootworm control, and why?

(Photo: Insecticidal-traited corn, left side treated with a soil insecticide, right side untreated.)

Caydee Savinelli is a technical brand manager for insecticides, responsible for several active ingredients developed and marketed by Syngenta Crop Protection. She has focused on insect control throughout her career with Syngenta and legacy companies. Caydee holds a doctorate in entomology from North Carolina State University.