Western bean cutworms are a big issue in south central and southwestern Nebraska this year. Growers in this region have reported heavier than normal infestations and will need to apply insecticides over the next few weeks to help save yield.
Western bean cutworms are pretty easy to detect. You can typically locate infestations by scouting for egg masses on leaves. Adult cutworms lay their eggs in June and July, so now’s a good time to scout your fields for clusters of white (or purple) eggs. If the eggs have hatched, you will want to search the upper portion of the plants for larvae. This usually occurs pre- or early tassel.
Once detected, many growers usually turn to pyrethroid applications. For best results, I recommend growers spray for western bean cutworm when the eggs begin to hatch. Multiple applications may be necessary to help combat cutworms. Unfortunately, if the larvae have already hatched, there’s a high risk they get inside the ears and begin to feed. Here they are protected from insecticides, so it’s important to spray early and often.
There are, however, long-term solutions to tackling western bean cutworm. Stine® carries a number of corn hybrids that feature the Agrisure Viptera® and Agrisure Duracade® traits. These hybrids provide high-yielding genetics for broad-spectrum lepidopteran control, some of which also come with the convenience of refuge in bag.
I recommend that growers who are experiencing problems with western bean cutworms this year reach out to their local Stine sales rep to develop a plan to help tackle the issue now and next year.