Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Corn Hybrid and Soybean Variety Trials Available

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky Hybrid Corn Performance Trials and Soybean Variety Performance Trials are both available online. Crops in both performance trials experienced the same heat and water stress that many crops across the state experienced in 2012. Only three sites were reported in the corn trials while all six sites were reported in soybeans.

The cross location averages are the best indicators (or predictors) of hybrid and variety performance next season. Most farmers think that the field closest to their own farms is the most relevant to them. By relying on the closest location, the person makes the assumption that the environmental conditions in 2013 will be exactly the same as the conditions in 2012. Most of us are hoping that 2013 is much better than 2012! The cross location average provides the best indicator of hybrid or variety performance across various environments.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall Armyworm- Follow-up on the Fall 2012 Infestation.

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist and Patty Lucas, IPM Specialist

Fall armyworm moths.
We know a number of you had to deal with the large infestation of fall armyworm we saw this past September and October. Infestations were reported in grass hay, & pasture, newly established or renovated forage grasses, wheat and rye cover crops, as well as in late maturing soybean and early planted wheat for grain. This was an unusual event, perhaps the largest population of FAW in recent memory.

We would like to gauge the spread and impact of this pest in Kentucky. To aid us in this we have prepared a short survey on the Survey Monkey web site. This is a short survey and will not take you more than a few minutes to complete. We would appreciate it very much if you would provide us with your experience. You can reach the site at:

This may not be a clickable link in the blog. If you cannot click on the address then please copy and paste  the address into your browser.

No information that will identify you will be collected by the site. There is one location in the survey where you may leave an email address to follow up if you so choose. Those addresses will be held in strict confidence. They will NOT be shared with anyone else, and will be stored offline.

We thank you in advance for taking just a few minutes to help us understand the impact, and distribution this insect had in 2012.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Revenue Risk, Forward Contracting, and Crop Insurance

By Cory Walters and Richard Preston
     The 2012 corn crop has raised important questions about the validity of forward contracting.  Forward contracts are a vital risk management tool because they remove price uncertainty.  However, they must be used correctly to avoid increasing risk in other areas, namely yield risk.  The purpose of this article is to discuss important pieces of information that need to be understood before signing a forward contract.
     In the traditional view, crop marketing advisors tell you it is prudent to manage price risk through marketing.  Crop insurance salespeople tell you it is prudent to manage yield risk through purchasing crop insurance (revenue insurance potentially provides price protection if losses exceed the deductible).  These two decisions are often made independently because crop marketing advisors don’t always understand crop insurance and crop insurance salespeople don’t always understand the market aspects, but this is slowly changing.  
     The decision of how much to forward contract and what crop insurance contract to purchase is related through an underlying price-yield relationship.  Let’s assume you took a marketing advisor’s advice and forward contracted a percentage of expected production.  Was price risk reduced?  Yes, but now those bushels must be produced, so yield risk went up.  A combination of price and yield risk, or revenue risk, provides the true measure of how much risk was reduced or possibly increased.  Risk stemming from revenue uncertainty rose dramatically in recent years.  Production costs also increased dramatically, increasing the risk of losing more capital.  Prices throughout the crop year varied tremendously, increasing the risk of ending up in the bottom third of prices.  Farm yield risk was likely underestimated because, up until this year (especially for corn), yield has been friendly.
     Across a large region like western Kentucky, the relationship between harvest futures prices and farm yields is negative, meaning that lower yields generally result in higher prices.  The strength of this relationship changes as we move away from average values to extremes.  This year happens to be one where that relationship is strongly negative.  A number of Kentucky producers are experiencing very low yields with very high prices.  However, in many cases this year, harvested yields have fallen below forward contracted levels, resulting in producers buying out those positions.  This situation shows the importance of understanding yield risk and the implications of having to buy back overhedged yield. 
     The ability to buy back depends upon the amount of available working capital.  If capital is not available, the producer may be faced with default which could result in farm liquidation.  Crop insurance could possibly pay back a large portion, if not all, of these expenditures but insurance payments typically come after the buy-out has occurred.  So, cash flow is needed. 
     The benefit from crop insurance for the 2012 crop will depend upon the type of selected crop insurance policy.  With 2012 yields and harvest prices not yet know a detailed analysis is not yet available.  In lieu of this analysis, a good starting point for the 2013 crop would be a revenue protection policy at a high coverage level with enterprise units along with selecting trend adjustment.  As for forward contracting, caution is warranted; we are a long ways away from 2013 harvest with likely good pricing opportunities to come, so sell in small percentages until a better idea of crop size is evident. For questions and comments please contact Cory Walters, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky at

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall Armyworm in the Near Term.

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

I am still receiving calls about fall armyworm (FAW) primarily as they affect pastures and especially reestablishment of grass fields and waterways. Most people are able to get control relatively easily, once the infestation is found; and by now quite a few folks are looking!

We have a few pieces of good news. The capture of moths in the UK-IPM trap at Princeton, KY has decreased significantly to 69 moths / trap-week. Additionally, we have a forecast of very cool temperatures and perhaps some significant frost. Both of these will have a generally debilitating effect on the FAW population.

It is quite reasonable to assume that FAW populations will decrease over the next week or so. Nevertheless, it is impossible to predict what will occur in a specific field or portion of a field. That is all completely dependent on how cold it gets and for how long that cold lasts. This is especially important for producers pushing up against the planting date window for newly seeded grasses. If you must plant / renovate in the near term then be sure that: 1.) There is no uncontrolled FAW infestation in your field. 2.) Make sure you begin checking your newly seeded grasses as soon as they begin to emerge for the presence of a new infestation.

For those producers planting winter wheat, waiting until after the Hessian fly free date, which from the date of this writing (Fri. 10/5/12) would be another week to 10 days, depending upon where you are located, could reduce your risk substantially. Again, this is almost completely dependent upon the weather, especially temperature, during this time frame.

Temperature forecast over the next ten days is about normal. There is a chance of frost on Sat. 10/6 and Sun. 10/7 but after that the temperatures will moderate once again. This weather is certainly not preferential for FAW growth and development and I would expect a continual decrease in the population size. However, I don’t see any immediate event in the next ten days that will remedy the problem for the season. So, for the time being, those with susceptible crops (all small grasses) should keep checking for the presence of this pest.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Wheat Contest Winners and Production Practices

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

The 2012 Kentucky Extension Wheat Contest winners are published. State champions are awarded to the highest yields each in No-Tillage and Conventional Tillage. Clark Farms of Graves County was the Tillage State Champion with a yield of 115.41 bushels per acre. The No-Tillage State Champion was Blake Edwards of Green County with a yield of 108.51 bushels per acre. For the contest, Kentucky is divided into four areas. Area Champions are awarded to the highest yield in each area (that is not a state champion), regardless of tillage class. Area 1 Champion was Malcolm Oatts of Christian County (108.18 bu/acre, tillage). Area 2 Champion was Flat Lick Farms – Scott Kuegel of Daviess County (109.61 bu/acre, tillage). Area 3 Champion was Jamie Summers (106.73 bu/acre, tillage). Area 4 Champion was Homestead Family Farms (97.94 bu/acre, no-tillage).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Armyworm Moth Flight Up-tick…. But why?

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

After a drop last week to 487 moths/trap-week from the peak capture of 675 moths/trap-week, capture of fall armyworm (FAW) moths in the UK-IPM pheromone baited trap has increased  to 605 moths/trap-week (See Figure 2.). This indicates a continued and elevated risk of infestation by this pest for the next several weeks. This up-tick in moths captured does not indicate another generation. It is more likely that the cool weather in the previous week reduced the number of moths flying and the warm up has done just the opposite. If this is the case, then last week’s moth capture should have been a bit larger and this week’s a bit lower, making the curve appear a bit more normal.

Figure 2. 2012 FAW Capture.
 This spiky appearance to the graph is just due to a small number of data points and a wide span of time (a week) between data points. What is most important is the fact that there are still a great many moths flying and females will still be laying eggs for several more weeks unless there is a drastic change in temperatures. Caterpillars resulting from the egg lay of the current moth flight have already begun to appear.  I expect that egg lay resulting from the moths represented by this week’s data point will continue into the first week of October. Caterpillars resulting from the current egg lay could be active through the entire month of October. This is, of course, completely dependent upon temperature.
We would normally expect for the threat from FAW to end on or about the first killing frost. Certainly we have eggs and caterpillars, in various stages of growth, currently in the environment that can last past the average first killing frost date. This does not even account for the moths that are currently flying, mating and laying eggs.

Thus, small grass crops will remain at risk to infestation by FAW until the weather changes enough to stop the cycle.  This usually occurs with a “killing” frost.  Looking at Mr. Tom Priddy’s short-term forecast, this should be about the normal Oct. 22 date.

 FAW is a tropical insect and cold weather will solve the problem. Nevertheless, experience has shown me that light frost will not do the trick, even with air temps near or at freezing.  It’s because at the soil / air level, especially in no-till fields, temperatures may remain above freezing. This is certainly true for clear sunny days, when the soil litter can obtain heat from sunlight.

Our current change in weather to rainy cool temperatures will slow this insect down. In addition these conditions will select in favor of the cool season grass that have recently been planted. You will need to continue scouting of these new stands, but weather is looking more favorable.

At risk crops remain the same, with the possible exception of soybeans. Most of these should be beyond the stage that leaf damage will be important. Sowing or renovating pastures, waterways, and cover crops with any small grass needs to be scouted for FAW.  Sowing wheat earlier than the Hessian Fly free date will increase the risk of FAW problems. Even sowing on or after the Hessian Fly free day may not provide control if the normal killing frost is late. 

Having talked to many producers, consultants, and farm service personnel, it is apparent that the problem remains in detecting the infestation. Control, once the infestation has been spotted, does not seem to be a problem.

Several common questions continue to come up:
Q.  If I spray for the FAW now, will that prevent a future infestation?
A.  No. You will probably get some residual activity from your insecticide, but if the weather stays warm, the insect’s life cycle will outlast the residual. As the weather grows cold, the application will be unneeded.
Q. If I treat my wheat seed with an insecticide, will that control FAW?
A. No, the rates we use on wheat in KY are meant to control very small sucking insects like aphids and Hessian flies. Think how much more massive a FAW caterpillar is than an aphid. This is a rate problem, not whether or not the insecticide would kill FAW.
Q. My pasture is mowed off. Has FAW killed my pasture?
A. No, it is very unlikely that FAW will kill an established stand. You will lose your yield, e.g., hay, stockpile grazing, etc.  There is little difference in FAW and cattle feeding; FAW just have smaller feet!
Q. FAW has eaten up my newly sown pasture / waterway / wheat; has it killed my seedlings?
A.  This is impossible to answer without waiting & watching for re-growth. FAW does not usually kill established grasses. However, if the root system is not well established, some seedlings may die.  My experience with wheat tells me you should be careful about reseeding.  I have seen FAW graze off a field, making it look dead, then the producer reseeding as soon as possible and ending up with a “double seeding”.  This results in many problems in the spring.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Equilibrium Moisture Contents for Grain

Sam McNeill, Extension Engineer, University of Kentucky

Implications for drying:
  • Grain will eventually reach the moisture levels shown in the tables when exposed to the corresponding temperature and humidity levels for long periods of time. This can occur in the field or in the top layers of a low-temperature bin dryer.
  • Drying time will depend on the airflow rate through grain, which in turn depends on the depth of grain in a bin. The minimum drying rate for natural air drying is 1 cfm/bu, but this can take up to a month to dry the top layer depending on the grain and air conditions--during which time spoilage can occur.
Implications for storage:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Moisture Content Charts

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

A grain moisture chart was just updated for producers this fall. Dr. Sam McNeill calculated the Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) for corn, soybean and wheat. The charts identify the moisture that each seed will approach at a certain air temperature and relative humidity. For example, corn will approach 11.3% moisture content at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius) and 50% relative humidity. Soybeans will approach 8.8% moisture content at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% relative humidity.

Click here for the EMC chart.

Soybean Green Stem Syndrome Complicates Harvest

Chad Lee and Don Hershman, Extension Agronomist and Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Kentucky

Soybean Green Stem Syndrome
Many soybean fields around the Commonwealth have green stems and brown pods. The seeds are mature, but the stems are not. This occurrence is commonly called “green stem syndrome”. The green stem syndrome is a nightmare to harvest as the combine tries to handle dried plant material and wet plant material at the same time. Seed moistures from plants with green stem and “normal” plants can be different, further complicating harvest. At times, combines can gum up from the green tissue.

Green stem syndrome occurs when the soybean plant does not set enough pods to match the supply of sugar and nitrogen coming from the leaves. Stopping seed growth early also can be a factor. Sugar and nitrogen made in the leaves travel through the stems to the developing seed. When the supply exceeds the needs of the seed (i.e. not enough pods), the sugar and nitrogen accumulates in the stems and the stems will stay green until a hard frost or freeze.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Armyworm Moth Flight – Has begun to drop, but still plenty around!

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

Figure 1. 2012 Capture of FAW
The second flight of fall armyworm (FAW) has begun to drop as indexed by the UK-IPM pheromone baited trap in Princeton, KY. Nevertheless, the capture for the trap-week ending Sept. 20, 2012, is still greater than the peak capture during the outbreak of 2007. (See Figure 1.) So, hopefully, we are on the downhill side of this problem, but there will still be plenty of moths to lay eggs over the next couple of weeks.

Producers, consultants and farm service personnel are still calling to report infestations and ask questions. There does not seem to be much problem with obtaining control once an infestation is found, but many folks are still not finding the infestations until considerable damage has already been done. Certainly, most callers are interested in what is coming next. Although the moth capture gives us a heads up and an indication of the level of risk, they will never tell us what is happening in a given field.
Our current weather may tend to extend the time the caterpillars are present. Our cooling temperatures are not cool enough to hamper the worms, but their development may slow down, increasing the days they will be in the damaging stage.
The crops at risk remain the same. Grass crops (pasture, hay, lawns) still remain in danger. Still, soybean problems appear to be coming from the caterpillars “marching” out of grasses in to the beans. Don’t neglect to check a field interior now and again. FAW will lay their eggs in soybeans, but grasses are by far the preferred egg laying site.
Anyone planning to plant wheat, rye, or renovate / restore any “small” grass pasture or hay field should give strong consideration to waiting for a while longer to seed. Experience tells me FAW caterpillars will be around until frost, even if not in the large numbers present now.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Armyworm Moth Counts Continue to Climb!

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

Capture of fall armyworm (FAW) moths has increased for the second week in a row, and this week by a huge margin (Figure 1.). Not only has an unprecedented second distinct FAW flight begun, it has surpassed this year’s previous peak in size. The August flight which reached 549 moths / trap-week for the trap-week ending Thur., Aug 16th, now stands at 675 moths / trap-week for trap-week ending Sept 13, 2012. Will it go higher? Only time will tell.

In addition to the numbers of FAW moths being captured, there is a second situation that gives me pause. This 2nd flight peak will be earlier in the season than we normally see, if one occurs. If the current numbers turn out to be the largest capture, then the peak will be approximately two weeks earlier than we would normally expect. Putting this in perspective, if we have an average frost date of Oct 22nd , this flight has approximately 5 ½ weeks for the caterpillars to develop and feed on our crops as opposed to a more normal 3 weeks. If frost is late this interval could be even longer.

Remember, the graph above represents MOTH flight. Moths are not the damaging stage of this insect. These moths were captured because they were seeking female mates. Once mating and egg lay has occurred, we will begin to see very small FAW caterpillars. This is the beginning of the damaging stage. This will likely take a week, perhaps two, depending on temperatures. Of course, further south and west (toward the upper Mississippi River bottoms) caterpillars will appear sooner. Further north and east (in the western 1/3rd of KY), caterpillars will take longer to appear. Fortunately, the traps in Lexington have just this week captured FAW for the 1st time this year; and the numbers are small. I doubt that there is any unusual risk in central and eastern portions of our field crop / pasture-hay production area.

Remember, as well, that these trap counts will NOT predict what will happen in an individual field. There is really no easy way to detect the presence of this pest. One must go to the field and look for their presence / activity. I would start by sweeping in grasses that have received enough rainfall to start re-growth. This will be a preferred egg laying location. FAW will lay eggs in soybeans, but they are not the preferred host. If this generation acts like the last, most soybean infestations will start with worms moving from grass waterways, roadsides & pasture/hay fields.

Crops primarily at risk will be newly planted wheat, pasture / hay production and very late maturing soybeans.

There is really only one thing that can bring this cycle to a halt….cold weather. FAW is a tropical insect that cannot overwinter in KY. In fact, under historic conditions, FAW cannot overwinter outside the gulf coast areas. So, vigilance will be needed until a hard frost stops their northward migration. Certainly, this is not the year for early planting of wheat.

Also, see Kentucky Pest News No. 1318, Sept. 11, 2012 at:

and the Wheat Science News Vol.16, No.5, Sept. 7, 2012 at:

for the article: “The Effect of Insects on Wheat Planting Decisions” for a more complete look at FAW and other arthropod pests on our upcoming wheat planting season.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Worst Drought Since the Dust Bowl, but Where is the Dust?

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky
The 2012 Drought left Kentucky corn in tatters, but the soil is mostly intact. 

The 2012 drought rivals the droughts of the 1930's, or the "Dust Bowl". But, there is one major difference in the drought of 2012... there's relatively no dust. I remember my grandfather talking about the Dust Bowl and saying that he couldn't see the sun for days. He lived in southeast Ohio, yet some of that soil he saw in the sky was from Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. We certainly see a very different story today. While there have been reports of massive dust storms in Arizona and similar desert climates, there has been relatively no evidence of dust storms in the Midwest in 2012. So, if our 2012 drought is similar in size and intensity to those of the 1930's, what happened to the dust this time?

Mycotoxins and Aflatoxins Resource Page

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

Photo: Paul Vincelli
Mycotoxins, and specifically, aflatoxins are a concern in corn this fall. There are some reports of harvested loads of corn being rejected because of high levels of mycotoxins.

There are a lot resources to discuss sampling, testing and feeding of corn with mycotoxins. We have put those items together into the Drought 2012 page on the Grain Crops Extension website.

Some of the highlighted links are listed below as well:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall Armyworm Moth Flight Numbers Begin to Rise Again.

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

The number of reports of fall armyworm (FAW) infested fields has slacked off for the present. Unfortunately, I do not think this problem is over for the year. I believe our IPM pheromone- baited traps are supporting this notion with an up-tick in captures this week.

Notice up-tick in green line.
If we look at the FAW moth captures for the year so far (Figure 1.), we can see three telltale signs. All three of these may be found in the relationship of the 2012 flight (Green line) to the 2007 outbreak population (Red line) and the rolling five-year average (Blue line). The 2012 flight of moths is: 1. much earlier, 2. much larger, and 3. appears to be starting to climb, indicating a second moth flight. None of these is absolutely definitive that we will experience a second economically important worm population, but they certainly indicate that we should be watching for one. That certainly seems to be the opinion of my colleagues in states to the south of us, and they experience FAW more often than do we.

We will not know until we see the moth flight numbers for the trap week ending Thursday, Sept 13th, or perhaps even the trap week ending Sept. 20th whether or not we have a second and threatening population. To my knowledge, there is no precedence for this in KY. Certainly we have seen FAW linger until frost, but we have not seen them do this in widespread large numbers.

When viewing these graphs, please remember that you are looking at moth capture. Moths are not the damaging stage in this insect. Moths (adults) are simply responsible for reproduction, dispersal, and egg lay. The resulting worms (damaging stage) will appear after a 1-2 week delay from the moth flight.

See the article: The Affect of Insect on Wheat Planting Decisions, in Kentucky Pest News at:
 for a look at the possible impact of insects, including FAW, and mites on the 2012 wheat crop.

Also see the Wheat Science News Letter at:
for Insect & other pest considerations and agronomic information related to the 2012 planting season.

Capture of corn earworm moths in IPM pheromone baited traps at UK-REC, Princeton (Caldwell Co.) Ky in 2012.

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

CEW caterpillar and damge on soybean.
Corn ear worm (CEW), also known as soybean podworm, are currently active in soybeans. This is a direct damage pest as it feeds on pods, seeds, & petioles. You are unlikely to detect this pest by checking for defoliation because it does not feed much on leaves. There is no sure way to detect this pest in your soybean crop except to scout for it. This means sweeping or direct visual examination of the pods.

CEW may occur in many color phases. It sometimes appears very dark, almost black, to brown to red and green. The green color phase is most often seen when feeding in soybeans. When fully grown, the larvae are about 1 ½“ long. They are marked by alternating light and dark stripes running the entire length of the body. These stripes are not always the same from one caterpillar to another. Usually a double dark stripe will run down the middle of the back.

You can certainly look for direct damage feeding on the pods to see if they are causing damage. In rows narrower than 30”, sweeping with a 15” sweep net is about the only way to measure this pest. The threshold is 9 worms per 25 sweeps.

Capture of CEW moths at UKREC 2012
We do know that corn earworm moth flight has been increasing and populations are greater than we normally see. Moth capture in our IPM pheromone baited traps at the UK-REC in Princeton is shown in Figure 2. Remember, these are moth counts and moths are NOT the damaging stage. Caterpillars will appear about a week after the moth flight. In 2012, moth numbers (green line) are greater than the rolling five- year average (blue line) so we are at an elevated risk of damage from this pest compared to most years. However, trap captures will NOT tell you what will happen in an individual field. Only field sampling will help you establish whether or not a threshold has been met. Moth flight numbers will give you a week or two heads up on what might happen.

If insecticide control is warranted, you may find products listed for control of CEW in soybeans online at: or from your County Extension Office. Be wary of spraying too early, you may kill the predatory insects that are providing some natural control and miss the actual pest.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fusarium Ear Rot and Fumonisons

Paul Vincelli, Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Kentucky

Figure 1. Typical symptoms of Fusarium ear and kernel rot.
Note whitish fungal growth.
 Usually damage from Fusarium ear rot affects
scattered kernels or groups of kernels, as shown here.

The content of this article previously occurred in the Kentucky Pest News, number 1315.

Pre-harvest contamination of corn with fumonisins is a possibility in some lots of this year’s Kentucky corn crop. Fumonisins are a family of mycotoxins produced by the fungus that causes Fusarium ear rot. These natural toxins have the potential to cause lethal diseases of horses and swine (the diseases are equine luekoencephalomalacia and porcine pulmonary edema, respectively). Pre-harvest contamination of corn by fumonisins is most often associated with drought stress at the silking stage, a stress that occurred widely in Kentucky and beyond.

Scouting Corn for Aspergillus Ear Rot

Paul Vincelli, Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Kentucky

Fig. 1 Aspergillus ear rot, 
from University of Illinois
The content of this article previously occurred in the Kentucky Pest News, number 1315.

Aflatoxins are potent, naturally occurring toxins that sometimes develop in corn and certain other crops. Aflatoxins are also among the most carcinogenic substances known. There are well-defined limits on how much aflatoxin is allowable in corn, based on the intended end use. For example, corn intended for human consumption must have less than 20 ppb (parts-per-billion!). More information on aflatoxin can be found in the UK Extension publication, Aflatoxins in Corn, ID-59, at

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cutting soybeans for Forage? Consider some Insects!

Doug Johnson and Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologists.

Margined blister beete on soybean.
Some folks have been asking about cutting soybeans to be baled and used for forage. In general most insects in soybean are not a problem. However, blister beetles can be. Blister beetles are commonly found in soybeans thought not in large numbers. In my plots this year the black margined blister beetle has been the most common, though others will occur.

This insect and its close relatives the ash gray and striped blister beetles are infamous as a contaminant of alfalfa hay for their effect on animals, particularly horses. They are found in soybean for the same reason as alfalfa, they are attracted to and feed on blooming weeds.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Soybean Rust Probably Here, But So What?

Don Hershman, Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Kentucky

Spores of the soybean rust pathogen were probably depostited in west Kentucky this weekend as a result of Hurricane Isaac's passing through. Moreover, the weather conditions this weekend were perfect for infection. Now that spores of the SBR fungus have been deposited and infection has likely taken place at some level, it will take approximately 3 weeks for us to find SBR pustules. However, significant disease development will not occur until about 4-6 weeks after spore deposition.  This means we will probably find SBR in Kentucky before the end of September, but the disease will not build-up much until October. By that time, some fields will have already been harvested, many will be near harvest, and even the latest planted doublecrop fields will be well past the point where damage is possible. So, while it is noteworthy and interesting that SBR is probably already here, it is a matter of “too little, too late” to be of any real concern.

Green Cloverworms Appearing in Large Numbers in Soybeans.

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist
There are some unusually large populations of green cloverworms on soybeans scattered around the state. This is a very common insect in soybeans which always has the potential for economic damage, but very rarely causes economic damage. The populations I have seen thus far are not at the economic threshold, but were much larger than I am used to seeing. It makes sense to look at your soybeans, especially late planted or slow developing beans.

Green cloverworm caterpillar on soybean stem.
Green cloverworm is easy to find and easy to identify. These worms are light green with two thin white stripes along each side of the body. When fully grown, these slender worms are 1” to 1-1/2“ long. They have only three pair of prologs in the center of their body. Most of the other caterpillars in KY grown soybeans have either 4 or 2 pair of prolegs. Green cloverworm will become very active, wiggling and looping when disturbed.

These pests are foliage feeders. They will strip the leaf tissue from between the veins leaving the veins, petioles and stems behind like a skeleton.

It takes a great many of these caterpillars to cause an economic problem. Economic threshold (ET) depends not only upon the number of green cloverworms, but also on the stage of the plants, the value of the beans, and the cost of treatments. ETs may be found in:

IPM-3, KY IPM Manual for Soybeans at: and

ENT- 13, Insecticide Recommendations for Soybeans at:

These insects are not very hard to kill. It is most important to detect them before they reach threshold and determine if control is needed. If you find them only after the damage has been done, you can kill them, but you can’t put the foliage back on the plants!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Look for New Virus Disease in Soybean

Don Hershman, Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Kentucky

A new virus disease of soybean, Soybean Vein Necrotic associated Virus (SVNaV), is fairly widespread in soybeans in west Kentucky at this time. This virus disease is thought to be transmitted to soybean by thrips. We have seen this disease at low levels in Kentucky for the last 15 years, but it has only recently been named and partially characterized. Thus far, the disease has been confirmed in AR, DE, KY, KS, IL, MS, MO, MS, NY, PA, TN, and VA. Although the SVNaV is easy to find in many fields, I do not think the disease is severe enough in any field to result in measurable yield losses. In fact, I am not aware of any instances in the U.S. where measurable yield losses have been attributed to SVNaV. It is, however, an emerging disease that merits additional study and monitoring. Look for leaves with faint oak leaf patterns that turn yellow and then brown over the course of 2-3 weeks. Brown lesions are commonly colonized by secondary fungi, especially Cercospora spp.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Red corn leaves and stalks

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

Corn plants in many fields are turning red and that is not a good sign. The red color is coming from a build-up of sugar in the leaves and stalks. The build-up of sugar is a result of too few kernels being developed on the ears. 
Red leaves indicate sugar buildup and
poor or no seed development.

During the process of plant growth and development, a plant produces sugar through photosynthesis. That sugar is used to build new plant parts, to fuel growth and development, and to help produce seeds. Each plant will produce the sugar necessary for expected yields. When those expected yields don't happen, the sugars remain in the leaves and stalks and, eventually, turn the plants red to reddish-purple. To paraphrase a poor pun from one of my colleagues, "red corn plants are a red flag that seed development has gone wrong."

Armyworm / Fall armyworm Problems Increase

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky

Feeding of one or several “armyworm” species appears to be on the increase. I cannot be completely sure which species are causing the damage, and it is likely that two species, the armyworm also know as True armyworm and the fall armyworm are the most likely culprits.

Fall armyworm moth captures in the IPM pheromone baited traps at Princeton, KY have skyrocketed in the last two weeks, going from 0 to 131 and currently to 550 moths captured in the trap week ending 9/16/12. This problem was reported in TN, AR & MS last week and recently in MO.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Drought Impact of Higher Corn Prices on Food Prices

Will Snell, Extension Ag Economist, University of Kentucky 

The widespread drought has caused much attention on the impact of the
rising price of corn on food prices.  While there is no doubt that the
higher corn prices we are observing are going to affect what we pay for
groceries, it varies considerably on the food product and the time period
being considered.

Overall, only about every 15 cents out of every dollar consumers spend on
food can be attributed to value of farm products.   Packaging, storage,
transportation, labor, profits, among other non-farm items comprise 85%
of what we pay in the grocery stores for our food.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fall Armyworm Moth Flight Increases, worms sited!

Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist

Capture of fall armyworm (FAW) moths in UK-IPM pheromone-baited traps has increased substantially over the last week. Until recently, there had been no FAW moths captured at the UK-REC in Princeton (Caldwell Co.) and only small numbers in Cam Kenimer’s trap line in Fulton Co., KY. In the trap week ending 9 Aug. 12, the capture increased from zero to 131 moths / week at the UK-REC, though the Fulton Co. trap counts remain low.

It is difficult to know what the increase at the REC might mean, however, a producer in Caldwell Co. (the county in which the REC is located) has seen a small number of FAW crossing a road. Additionally, reports from counties further east and south report FAW infestations in pastures (they must have gotten some rain!!!). Add to this reports from our colleagues in states to the south, indicating increases in FAW activity in areas that have received recent rains; and I think this adds up to checking to make sure they are not present in your fields.

At this time of year FAW are primarily a risk to soybeans and pasture / grass hay fields. They would also attack corn, but we are too far along for this to happen in our major corn growing area. Nevertheless, this insect can be quite voracious so producers of soybean and pasture / grass hay are encouraged to check your fields to look for this critter.

FAW is a migratory pest in KY and is only an occasional pest of soybeans; but it can cause serious damage if infestations are large. Soybean is not a preferred host crop, but it may be infested especially in years when grass crops are not available. Given our unprecedented drought that is certainly the case this year. This is primarily a defoliating pest but can feed on pods as well.

FAW on corn leaf.

Newly hatched FAW are white with a black head, but the body darkens as it grows. Full-grown larvae are up to 1 1/4“ long, have black bumps, and may be light tan to dark green. The black head will have a distinct inverted “Y”.

Thresholds for this pest in soybean are not well established in KY. Like corn earworm, if sampling in wide row beans with a 3’ shake cloth, the threshold would be an average of 2 worms per row-foot. If sweeping narrow rows with a 15” sweep net, an average of 9 larvae per 25 sweeps would indicate a need for control.

Thresholds for FAW in pastures / grass hay fields are also not established. Clearly the insect can do great damage in some situations. In states further to the south of us 4-6 or 5-7 worms per square foot are used as the economic threshold. Though the season would be earlier and the grass variety different, that is probably as good as starting place as any.

If insecticidal control is required check ENT-13 (for soybeans) or ENT-17 (for pasture / grass hay) for a listing of registered insecticides. These publications may be obtained from your county extension office or on the web at: