A little pest that is causing big problems for corn growers

Corn rootworms can reduce yields by up to 50% and cause up to $2 billion dollars in damage.

Erica Strittmatter with Bayer says the pest feeds on nodal roots found within the root crown. “What we know about corn is that the main nutrient uptake comes from those nodal roots,” she says.  “And that nutrient uptake of those critical in P&K nutrients is what helps establish yield for each of those corn plants.”

She tells Brownfield that can cause problems later in the growing season. “They won’t have that nice robust root system, and unfortunately a strong wind or a bad storm can knock that plant right over,” she says.  “Nothing is more frustrating to a farmer than seeing corn on the ground unable to go through the combine and its yield lost.”

Strittmatter says crop rotation is the best way to reduce corn rootworm, but if that’s not an option farmers should explore hybrids that contain corn rootworm-resistant traits.  “Finding a product that has a mode of action can really help combat that pest,” she says. “Bayer offers a few different options that growers can look at. We have SmartStax Pro with RNAi technology and VT4 PRO with RNAi technology; that one is a brand-new product coming to the market in 2024.”

She says Bayer also has the program, The Watch, a resource created to help refresh corn rootworm scouting knowledge.  It runs through August.

All this week Bayer is raising awareness and helping farmers combat Corn Rootworm with its inaugural Rootworm Week.  Bayer experts are using videos to inform, educate and share information about what corn rootworm is, why it feasts on corn roots and what’s being done to keep rootworms in check. 

AUDIO: Erica Strittmatter, Bayer

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