Crops News

Take aim at corn’s billion-dollar bug: Corn rootworm

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The best defense against corn rootworm is vigilance. That’s the message Bayer is sharing while launching the second year of The Watch, a program meant to educate farmers and encourage them to evaluate their corn rootworm pressure and management practices. Corn rootworm represents one of the top groups of insects threatening corn yields across the U.S. Corn Belt, and Bayer wants farmers to take note and track the pest in 2020.

“Farmers have a number of choices in corn rootworm management, but ignoring them should not be one of them,” says Jody Gander, technology development manager at Bayer. “This pest costs growers more than $1 billion annually in crop damage and increased control costs. While some areas have seen lighter pressure in recent years, corn rootworm is highly variable and now is not the time to relax on management. We’re challenging farmers to monitor and share their corn rootworm pressure this season as a way to showcase the very real threat in their fields.”

Gander noted that as corn rootworm feeds on roots below ground, it can impact yield potential and make the plants more susceptible to root lodging. While corn rootworm pressure isn’t visible at this point in the season, farmers can still be proactive in the months ahead through a number of methods. First, planting products with SmartStax technology helps provide control of corn rootworm larvae, creating the first line of defense through two proven effective modes of action against both northern and western corn rootworm.

Farmers can also prepare for scouting now by requesting sticky traps here.  The Watch is a resource created to help refresh corn rootworm scouting knowledge and drive action toward managing the pest.

Bayer is providing a sticky trap starter kit for farmers to not only track pressure in their own fields but also share information with neighbors. Through a social media contest using the hashtags #RootwormWatch and #sweepstakes, Bayer hopes to keep this potentially destructive pest top of mind for farmers all season long. Those participating in The Watch will also have an opportunity to win prizes, including trail and outdoor cameras, monoculars, and smart watches. Farmers are encouraged to visit and request their starter kits today.

“Corn rootworm is still very prevalent and highly variable throughout the region. We want farmers to use all the resources at hand regardless of their management practices,” adds Gander. “While we can’t easily see corn rootworm when it’s doing damage below ground, we can definitely track it above ground, and we should all be diligent in doing so.”

Finally, farmers should also be tracking corn rootworm pressure throughout the season digitally via InsectForecast.com. This site is dedicated to tracking hatches and beetle movement throughout the Corn Belt, helping farmers understand current and future pressures. Farmers can also track other key pests as well.

To request a sticky trap starter kit and learn more about The Watch contest, farmers should visit their website.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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