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Monitor Western Bean Cutworm Levels: The Insect Overwinters

November 1, 2017
This agronomic image shows Western bean cutworm damage in corn.

Three of the most overlooked broad lepidopteran insects Minnesota farmers might face in a season are corn earworm, black cutworm and Western bean cutworm, which caused the damage pictured above. The reason these pests “might” be a problem is because corn earworms and black cutworms make their way from the southern U.S. states and don’t always reach a treatment threshold.

Unlike corn earworm and black cutworm, Western bean cutworm overwinters in the Minnesota soil, and therefore the pest may be a developing threat to a corn crop. So if you’re trying to determine whether planting an insect-traited hybrid is a valuable investment, consider how much insect pressure your field faced this season. If Western bean cutworm was prevalent, unfortunately it’s likely the insect will cause more problems in 2018. If that’s the case, planting a traited hybrid would most likely be a worthwhile investment.

The Stanton Grow More Experience site conducts annual trials to determine the yield difference between a non-insect traited hybrid and one with the Agrisure Viptera® trait. Trait stacks with Agrisure Viptera control up to 16 above- and below-ground insects, including Western bean cutworm, black cutworm and earworm. Stanton trials showed up to a 22 bu/A yield difference between the conventional hybrid and Agrisure Viptera traited hybrid, while the average increase was 5-6 bu/A. Reducing insect-caused ear damage that can lead to mold and mycotoxins also leads to higher-quality grain and peace of mind.

Consider planting a traited hybrid in 2018 if Western bean cutworm affects 5% or more of your crop, because it’s likely the insect will overwinter and cause more problems next season. To learn more about hybrids available with Agrisure Viptera trait stacks, speak with your NK® sales representative or NK retailer.

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All photos are either the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.