Watch cover cropped fields closely for cutworms

An agronomist says with the expected high numbers of black cutworm moths migrating north, keep a close watch on fields with cover crops. 

Bob Berkevich with Pioneer says many black cutworm moths were caught in pheromone traps by Wisconsin ag officials recently, meaning more eggs and more likely pest problems this year. “They do tend to prefer fields that have that naturally grassy habitat, so with the increase in cover crop acres here in the last several years, those are acres where we’ve seen more black cutworm pressure show up.”

Berkevich says moths are pregnant when they arrive from Texas and Mexico, and farmers should prepare to scout fields and potentially take action. “Towards the end of the month is when we’re going to start seeing potential damage if it’s going to show up, and we need to keep an eye on those fields, especially for the black cutworm and the damage, and take any control measures if we need to.”

Berkevich says there are no new control measures but traits and seed treatments do provide some protection against the black cutworm.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection officials last week said they used 50 traps and as of May 4, they captured 733 moths. That’s more than two times higher than the 216 moths captured by the same time last year.  

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