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Armyworms are Poised to Eat Your Vegetable Crops

Julie Kikkert, Team Leader, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

June 6, 2012

Armyworms are Poised to Eat Your Vegetable Crops
They're back! Remember 2008 when armyworms marched from wheat into vegetable fields, eating everything in their path? Well, reports in western, NY are that populations of true armyworms in wheat are the highest they've been in years. True armyworms have also recently been reported in grass hay in Washington and Schenectady Cos., and in numerous crops, including sweet corn, Swiss Chard, and lettuce in Ulster/Orange Cos.

According to the NYS IPM Weekly Field Crops Report, the most common infestation sites for true armyworm larvae include dense fields of grasses, including wheat and other cereals, grassy forages, fields with rye cover crops and corn. Good grass control within and along field margins helps reduce the risk of infestations.

START SCOUTING NOW! When armyworms run out of food in wheat, cereal and grass fields, they will "march" into juicier crops, especially corn, and including vegetables. A 20- to 40-foot treated border around armyworm-infested wheat fields should prevent armyworms from entering other crops and minimizes the use of chemicals. Insecticide treatments for true armyworms are most effective if applied late in the day. Generally, true armyworms are easy to control with pyrethroid insecticides. It is important to detect problem areas early, while larvae are still small, because the large larvae do the most feeding and may quickly destroy whole stands. Armyworms feed at night, so check fields regularly for ragged holes chewed from the leaf margins, pellet-like frass on the ground and hidden larvae under plants and surface residue.

Some useful information from M. Montgomery, University of Illinois Extension follows:
"During the day, true armyworms curl up on the ground, typically beneath residue if they can find it. Larvae come in a range of colors (gray-green to tan). When residue is pulled back, larvae at first remain fairly still (typically curled up but occasionally sprawled out). However, in a short period of time the half inch to 1-3/4 inch long larvae begin to crawl rapidly looking for someplace else to hide such as additional residue or a soil crack. The true armyworm has a dark head capsule with a wide "V-shaped" marking between the eyes plus an orange stripe running down either side of the body. While some of these features may be shared by "look-a-like" larvae, true armyworm larvae can always be distinguished from other larvae by a series of dark bands/ diagonal black smudge-like markings on the prolegs (false legs) of older larvae. True armyworm larvae typically overwinter in the southern United States, and moths migrate back north each spring. Once here and once they have mated, females deposit eggs on the lower portion of host plant material. That host plant material can include corn, wheat, beans, cabbage, carrots, onions, peas, peppers, radishes, sweet potatoes, etc. Larvae feed for over a month and remove notches or large sections of leaf tissue on either side of the main veins. Left unchecked, all leaf tissue may be removed and plants may become soiled by frass (a polite term for insect feces). A few generations of true armyworm occur each season."

Download the PDF below for websites to visit for additional information and photos.

Armyworms are Poised to Eat Your Vegs, 6-6-12 (pdf; 290KB)

more crops
Apples

Apples

Apricots

Apricots

Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Blueberries

Blueberries

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cherries

Cherries

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Grapes

Grapes

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

Melons

Nectarines

Nectarines

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peaches

Peaches

Pears

Pears

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Plums

Plums

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Raspberries / Blackberries

Raspberries / Blackberries

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Strawberries

Strawberries

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Turnips

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Upcoming Events

Ag Manager Webinar Series: Ag Tax Topics - Sales Tax and Property Tax Issues for Ag in NYS

August 27, 2019
12:30 - 12:50pm

Join Liz Higgins from the CCE ENYCHP every other Tuesday at 12:30pm throughout the summer as she discusses pertinent business topics for busy farm managers.
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Willsboro Farm High Tunnel Twilight Meeting

August 27, 2019
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Willsboro, NY

Join vegetable specialists Elisabeth Hodgdon, Jud Reid, and farm manager Mike Davis for a high tunnel and field tour at Cornell's Willsboro Research Farm, where they will share research results for the following projects: 
  • Striped cucumber beetle management suing netting and row cover
  • Varietal differences in cucumber susceptibility to striped cucumber beetle
  • Ground cherry and goldenberry production in field and high tunnel environments
  • Overwintered high tunnel spinach nitrogen fertility 

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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

Biweekly Vegetable News Podcast - Episode 9 - 08/21/19

August 21, 2019
The August 21st, 2019 edition of the Eastern New York Vegetable News covers the following topics:

Changes to Worker Housing Regulations in the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (1:25)
Managing Alternaria Leaf Spot and Head Rot on Broccoli (4:25)
Gauging Winter Squash Maturity for Harvest (10:05)
Insects in Hemp, especially European Corn Borers (18:33)
Guidance on the Dropped Covered Produce Provision of the Food Safety Modernization Act (22:53)
Cucurbit Downy Mildew Management Update (27:02)
Report from the BioControl Field Day and Weed Management Recommendations (31:07)
Day Neutral Strawberries (40:33)

Here are links to additional resources mentioned in the episode:

Current Housing Regulations for Seasonal and Migrant Farmworkers
(On January 1, 2020, these will now apply to farms housing any number of seasonal and migrant farmworkers)

Public Health Law, section 225, NYCRR Title 10 Health, Part 15, Migrant Housing: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/nycrr/title_10/part_15/

Managing Alternaria Leaf Spot and Head Rot in Broccoli

Sue Scheufele “Can Alternaria Leaf Spot Be Managed Organically?” http://www.hort.cornell.edu/expo/proceedings/2013/Cole%20Crops/Cole%20Crops%20Scheufele%20Alternaria.pdf

Christy Hoepting “Control of Alternaria head rot in broccoli featuring exciting results from 2018 on‐farm fungicide trial” http://www.hort.cornell.edu/expo/pdf/20190115-all-day-hoepting.pdf

Dropped Covered Produce:
FDA Factsheet on Dropped Covered Produce: https://www.fda.gov/media/129568/download

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