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Weekly Field Crops Pest Report 2009

April 19, 2009      Volume 8 Number 1

1. View from the Field

2. Early Season Bird and Vertebrate Pests in Your Corn

3. Alfalfa Winter Kill, Root Diseases and Frost Heaving

4. National Asian Soybean Rust Report (April 20th)

5. Clipboard Checklist

6. Mark Your Calendars

7. Contact Information

View from the Field

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Welcome back to the NYS IPM Weekly Pest Report. It is that time of year, when pests become an issue with field crops and livestock. This is the 8th year of the NYS IPM Weekly Field Crops Pest Report. The purpose of this publication is to provide you with weekly updates on field crop and livestock pests. This year we will distribute this publication by e-mail on the Cornell In-house Field Crop list and as a web link emailed to the Cornell Field Crop list.

Your weekly pest observations are critical to the pest report. Please feel free to make us aware of possible pest problems that may be occurring in your county or region. Your reports help us alert the rest of the state of potential problems that may arise. We encourage our readers to use the material provided in the weekly report in their extension programming, newsletters, local newspapers and farm visits.

- Mike Stanyard (Field Crops Specialist & Team Leader, NWNY Dairy, Livestock, & Field Crops Team) reports that winter wheat appears to be very healthy with no visual signs of early season diseases.  Mike states he is starting to observe winter annual weeds in new seedings of alfalfa.

Early Season Bird and Vertebrate Pests in Your Corn

Ken Wise

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 It is time to think of the crows, turkeys, black birds, geese and rodents that might choose your fields to fill their bellies with corn seed! What might you do when you have this kind of issue in your fields? Whether youíre an organic or conventional grower, there are a few basic early season steps you can take to minimize damage.
Soil temperature is an important factor to consider when planting corn. When the soil temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit it allows the plant to grow much more quickly and get firmly established before damage might occur.
Seeding depth and slot closure are two other important factors to consider if you have had problems with birds and rodents. Seeding depths of 1.5 to 2 inches and firmly closed slots protect the seeds, as birds have to work harder at getting them out of the soil, and eventually will give up. Last yearís demonstration plot on seeding depth by Kevin Ganoe (Area Field Crops Extension Educator, Central New York Dairy & Field Crops Team) showed what birds can do to a corn field that is planted too shallow. The following photo shows the difference in damage for two seeding depths:  shallow planted rows (at 1 inch deep) on the left-side rows, and deep seeding depth (1.5 to 2 inches deep) on the right side rows. 

        (Research was in cooperation with Dr. Douglas Goodale,

          Agronomy Professor at SUNY Cobleskill)

Kevin points out the importance of having a planter in good condition, such as having double disc openers of the proper diameter, replaced broken drop tubes, etc.  You may have adjusted the planter unit depth control, but if the planter is not maintained properly, in some instances the seed canít get in the ground deep enough. It is important to make sure the seed is deep enough in the field, thus you should get off the tractor and confirm the seeding depth.

In no-till systems, many times the slot does not get closed very well, thus allowing birds and rodents access to the planed seed. The following picture illustrates this potential problem: a no-tilled corn field with evidence of bird pecking (pitting) out the seed.

Overall, make sure that you are planting the seeds deep enough, and that the slot closes properly. Otherwise, your potential for bird and rodent damage my increase!

Alfalfa Winter Kill, Root Diseases and Frost Heaving

Ken Wise

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There are many potential causes of alfalfa winter kill often involving some type of root disease. Crown rot is one of the possible problems that can occur in older fields with a history of stress, heavy traffic or grazing, poor drainage, fertility and pH problems, previous insect damage, etc. Plants exhibiting crown rot appear stunted and have few stems. Crown rot progresses slowly in the crown and taproot area of the plant. In many situations, crown rot cannot be attributed to a single pathogen. Several fungi (Fusarium spp., Phoma, Pythium, Rhizoctonia) as well as some bacteria, have been implicated in the disease. Often, the symptoms are a complex, consisting of several of the pathogens that attack the plant. The way to tell if a plant has the disease is to dig up (not pull up) a plant showing symptoms. Then use a knife to split open the crowns and roots. Healthy tissue should be white, moist, and firm. Rotted tissue usually has a black or brownish- red color, but the color may vary from yellowish to pinkish or gray.

Another common alfalfa problem observed is frost heaved crowns. Low areas of the field that tend to accumulate water are sites worth checking for this ailment. Frost heaving may indicate potential disease problems such as Pythium or Phytopthora root rot which attack lateral and main root systems leaving plants with limited holding power for staying in the ground. The photos shown came from a field in Freeville NY which was poorly drained and had a history of Phytopthora root rot.

National Asian Soybean Rust Report (April 20th)

Gary Bergstrom
Cornell University

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Soybean rust scouting continues in the Southern U.S. and Mexico. Soybean sentinel plots continue to be established in the Gulf Coast states and kudzu is breaking dormancy throughout the region. In 2009, soybean rust has been found in five states and 17 counties in United States, and in two states and five municipalities in Mexico.

In 2008, soybean rust was found in 16 states representing 392 counties in the United States. Rust was also reported in 14 municipalities (counties) across four states in Mexico.   

NYS Soybean Rust Information Center

National Soybean Rust Website

Clipboard Checklist

Keith Waldron

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*Walk fields to check tile flow, check and clear drainage outlets. Look for line breaks.

*Observe wet areas and plot on aerial photo of farm for future drainage considerations and crop decisions
*Maintain crop records by field, including variety, planting date, pesticides used, nutrient inputs including manure, etc.

*Watch for early season weeds: winter annuals, chickweed, henbit, field penny cress, shepherd's purse, giant ragweed, lambsquarters, Pennsylvania smartweed, common sunflower

*Store snow shovel, "summerize" sno-blower?

Alfalfa and Small Grains:
Monitor alfalfa for Alfalfa Snout Beetle (In Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga, Wayne, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Essex, and Franklin counties)
*Monitor alfalfa for Alfalfa weevil as weather continues to warm
Evaluate established legume stands for winter damage (thinning stand, frost heave), determine average alfalfa stand count, adjust crop plans if necessary
*Monitor winter grain fields for over wintering survival, virus disease symptoms, goose damage

Pre-plant weed evaluation

*Prepare land for corn if it is dry enough and begin planting the last week of April if it is dry (even if it is cold!)

Check and mend fences as needed.
*Check crop growth

*Review/Plan rotation system

Arrange for custom weed control or check your own application or cultivator equipment for repairs.
*Check nozzles, pumps, etc., recalibrate pesticide application equipment regularly before use.
*Calibrate planting equipment - maintain records on crop planting rate per field
*Calibrate manure spreaders - maintain records on amount spread per field

Check forage allocation and anticipate feed program adjustments as forages from previous year are used up
*Plan where forages should be stored for optimum allocation next feeding season

Mark Your Calendars

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June 4, 2009 -- Small Grains Management Field Day, Musgrave Farm, 1256 Poplar Ridge Rd, Aurora, NY
July 7, 2009 -- Cornell Seed Growers Field Day, Ithaca, NY
July 15, 2009 -- Weed Science Field Day, Thompson Research Farm, Freeville, NY (morning program)
July 15, 2009 -- NYSABA Summer, BBQ, Musgrave Farm, Aurora, NY 12:00 noon
July 15, 2009 -- Weed Science Field Day, Musgrave Farm, Aurora, NY (afternoon program)
Aug. 10-14, 2009 -- Soil Health Training Workshop, Ithaca, NY

Contact Information

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Ken Wise: Eastern NYS IPM Area Educator: Field Crops and Livestock

Phone: (518) 434-1690

Fax: (518) 426-3316


Keith Waldron: NYS Livestock and Field Crops IPM Coordinator

Phone: (315) 787 - 2432

Fax: (315) 787-2360