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Western Bean Cutworm Continues Corn Belt Expansion

July 26, 2018

Western Corn Belt states are having a particularly tough year with western bean cutworm, the increasingly common pest that can diminish grain quality, result in mycotoxins and reduce yield. Historically found in those western Corn Belt states, the yield robber has been progressively spreading eastward during the 2000s, with sightings as far east as New York. Adults emerge in late June/early July, with adult flight ending by mid- to late August.

The threat to corn from western bean cutworm is significant. Not only can damage from this pest reduce yields by up to 40% and lower the quality and price of grain, it can also result in mycotoxins that can be harmful to livestock. Furthermore, in-season scouting and treatment of western bean cutworm can be particularly difficult.

There are several critical things to know about this tricky pest:

  • Young larvae, tan in color and identified by 2 broad stripes immediately behind the head, feed on corn tassels, pollen and silks, then chew holes through the husk before devouring developing kernels on the ear
  • With egg masses of up to 200 eggs laid in plant leaves, it’s not unusual to have multiple larvae feeding on affected ears
  • After larvae enter the ear, it’s too late for insecticide treatment
  • Damaged kernels are susceptible to mold and mycotoxin development
  • Infestations are often patchy and may occur over a span of several weeks, requiring multiple scouting visits and making insecticide treatment decisions more difficult

this agronomic image shows a western bean cutworm in corn.

Agrisure Viptera®, offered in many NK® corn hybrids, is the only trait available today that effectively controls western bean cutworm, and it is the best option on the market to consistently limit western bean cutworm damage and protect grain quality.

This agronomic image compares Agrisure Viptera corn to hybrids without it.

Agrisure Viptera helps to minimize mold and mycotoxin development from western beat cutworm damage

Trait stacks with Agrisure Viptera control up to 16 above- and below-ground insects such as black cutworm and corn earworm, in addition to western bean cutworm. Available in NK hybrids, these trait stacks include Agrisure Duracade® 5222 E-Z Refuge®, Agrisure Viptera 3220 E-Z Refuge, Agrisure Viptera 3111, and Agrisure Viptera 3110. Many options in combination with Agrisure Artesian® technology are also available as indicated by an “A” at the end of the hybrid name.

Learn more about western bean cutworm and treatment options with this fact sheet, and speak with your local NK retailer to find the hybrids that best fit your fields.

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