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True Armyworms Invading Sweet Corn!

Chuck Bornt, Team Leader, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

June 7, 2018

This article was published in the June 7th 2018, ENYCHP Vegetable News.  Click here to view the full newsletter.

The last two weeks have had us finding some True Armyworm adult moths in our traps.  These moths move up from southern overwintering sites on storm fronts.  If you recall, we've had some issues with these buggers in the past and sweet corn isn't their only host as we've seen them attack several vegetable crops including sweet corn, brassicas, tomatoes, peppers and greens.   Not only is their damage a problem, but on things like lettuce, the droppings can affect marketability of the crop.  

Armyworms, whether Fall or True, are very eager feeders and can do a lot of damage in a short time.  Their feeding damage tends to appear ragged, with large holes eaten in the leaves and they leave lots and lots of sawdust looking frass (insect terminology for fecal matter).  They tend to feed on the top sides of crops during the night and on the undersides or deeper into the plant during the day.   

The adults are fairly large moths which are primarily nocturnal and have the ability to lay up to 2,000 eggs in their two week life.  The eggs will hatch in 7 to 14 days and the larvae begin feeding immediately, going through seven stages of development over several weeks.  The worms tend to be greenish brown (with some variations) with a pale white stripe on its back and an orange stripe on each side of the body.  One other distinguishable feature is a dark brown to black triangle located on the outside of each of the four pairs of prologs found towards the hind end of the body.   

Thresholds for when to treat corn have been established and should be treated when 25>#/b### of the plants are showing damage (Source: Integrated Pest Management Program, Missouri University).  For sweet corn and leafy greens, best control is achieved when the larvae are small (1st and 2nd instar) and applied usually later in the evening when the larvae tend to be more active and feeding on the upper surfaces of the plants.    

There are a number of insecticides labeled for leafy greens including these organic products:  Pyganic (pyrethrin), Dipel (Bacillus thuringinensis, subsp. Kurstaki), Xentari ((Bacillus thuringiensis, var. aizawai), Aza-Direct (azadirachtin), Azera (pre-mix of azadirachtin and a pyrethroid) and Entrust (check the label for the labeled rates as formulations vary for these products).   Again, these products are going to work best when applied to small larvae but if they get ahead of you, tank mixing a pyrethroid (Aza-Direct, Pyganic etc.) with a Bt (Dipel, Xentari etc) will improve performance.  Repeat applications may also be necessary depending on how long the egg laying period and development conditions are.  

Conventional insecticides labeled for armyworm control on sweet corn and leafy greens including Warrior II, Baythroid (both are recommended for 1st and 2nd instars), Coragen and Lannate.  Ensure that you get thorough coverage, of the canopy with any of these products including the whorl in the case of sweet corn.  Late evening applications also keep insecticides wet longer ensuring larval contact and ingestion of the insecticides.  Other insecticides labeled for sweet corn include Asana XL (1st and 2nd instars), Mustang Max, Radiant SC and Blackhawk.  Please check labels for rates.

army 1Note the ragged feeding and dark colored frass. (Photo: Teresa Rusinek)



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Upcoming Events

October Last Monday Grant Webinar for Fruit and Vegetable Growers

October 28, 2019
4:00 pm

Are you curious about what grants are available to help your farm business?

To help disseminate information on grants on a consistent basis, ENYCH is offering a "current grants" webinar on the last Monday of every month at 4:00pm

Each month's webinar focuses on 1 grant.  The October webinar topic is TBD but might feature Ag Labor Housing Grants.
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Produce Safety Alliance FSMA Grower Training Course

October 30, 2019
8am - 5pm
Canajoharie, NY

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.  At least one person per farm producing more than $25,000 worth of fruits and vegetables must attend this course once.  Participants will receive a certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials. 

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Tarping for Reduced Tillage Workshop

November 2 - November 19, 2019

Are you a vegetable farmer already using tarps? Or are you wondering if and how tarps could work best on your farm?

The Cornell Small Farms Program is excited to announce a series of workshops on tarping for reduced tillage in small-scale vegetable systems, to be held in Maine and New York this fall. The Reduced Tillage (RT) project of the Cornell Small Farms Program supports farmers in adopting scale-appropriate RT practices that can lead to healthy, productive soils and greater profitability. Through the evaluation of novel tools and methods using systems-based field research and on-farm trials, the project helps farmers learn about the approaches that can work for their farm. This work is accomplished in collaboration with the University of Maine, and with support from Northeast SARE.

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Announcements

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

Climate Change Adaptations

September 30, 2019
In this episode regional vegetable specialist Elisabeth Hodgdon interviews University of Vermont PHD student Alissa White about a series of interviews with growers in the north east concerning climate change adaptations.

Listeners can access Alissa White’s climate change adaptation survey report and additional information on the project by clicking on the following link:

https://adaptationsurvey.wordpress.com/results/
Alissa’s project was sponsored by a Northeast SARE Graduate Student Grant (GNE17-163).

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