Warm Winter Brings Corn Flea Beetle Threat, Increased Risk Of Stewart’s Wilt

Ohio grain farmers should take extra precaution this spring to scout their fields as the near-record warm winter is expected to cause a severe infestation of corn flea beetle, says an Ohio State University Extension entomologist.

Insects such as the corn flea beetle will likely be seen earlier than normal this year, said Ron Hammond, who also has an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Corn flea beetle targets both sweet and field corn and spreads the bacterium that causes Stewart’s bacterial wilt and leaf blight. Adult beetles that overwinter become active in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees and are most active on sunny, warm, windless days, Hammond said.

“Those adults that fed on corn plants with Stewart’s disease in the previous late summer or fall may acquire and carry the bacterium from one growing season to another,” Hammond said. “By feeding on young plants in the spring, they may spread the bacterium, which in turn causes seedling wilt and leaf blight.

“The occurrence of Stewart’s bacterial disease is totally dependent on the level of bacteria-carrying flea beetle survival over the winter.”

Higher populations of the flea beetle survive during mild winters than during cold winters, he said.

This winter is the warmest experienced nationwide since 2000 and the fourth-warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This was because the jet stream, which divides the cold air to the north from the warm air to the south, settled at a much higher latitude this year.

Using a “flea beetle index” that calculates the average sum temperature of December, January and February to predict the likelihood of the disease threat, OSU Extension researchers have found that all areas of the state have indexes above 100, suggesting that risk is severe for the pest this year.

As a result, crop growers should scout their fields for flea beetles, especially if they have planted a hybrid that is susceptible to Stewart’s disease, Hammond said. Farmers can mitigate the damage if they scout their fields earlier and with more tenacity, he said.

“We recommend that growers scout, scout, scout,” Hammond said. “Growers need to be out in their fields to be aware of the insects they’re dealing with and pay more attention this year, especially in the crop rows, because more insects may be waiting for crops to come out of the ground.”

Normally, Hammond would recommend that growers wanting to take preventive action against flea beetles use a commercially applied insecticide seed treatment labeled for the insect, but most field corn planted these days, including all transgenic hybrids, already comes with an insecticide seed treatment applied.

“Thus, it is mostly non-transgenic corn that might need to be treated specifically for this concern,” he said. “Also, most field corn hybrids are more resistant to wilt than sweet corn, with dent corn hybrids varying greatly in their resistance to the leaf blight stage phase of the disease.

“All sweet corn varieties are susceptible to wilt in the first leaf stage. A few are resistant by the second leaf stage and many are resistant in the third and fourth leaf stage. Consult your seed supplier for information on resistant varieties and hybrids.”

But while the warmer temperatures this winter might allow for an increase in corn flea beetle numbers, that doesn’t automatically result in higher incidence of Stewart’s, OSU Extension researchers caution.

The surviving flea beetles need to be carrying the bacterium in order to infect plants in the spring. In order for them to acquire the bacterium, they needed to feed on diseased plants last season. So with the level of Stewart’s disease being low during 2011, it is quite possible that beetles, even if they survived due to the mild winter, might not be carrying the bacterium, researchers said.

Leave a Reply

Insecticides Stories
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
InsecticidesEPA Grants Besiege Insecticide Additional Approvals
June 18, 2014
EPA has granted additional registration approvals for the use of Syngenta's Besiege insecticide on sorghum, cereal grains and peanuts. Read More
InsecticidesPrevathon Insect Control Approved For Cereal Crops
January 13, 2014
DuPont's Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received U.S. EPA registration for use on cereal crops, including wheat, most other small grains and sorghum. Read More
InsecticidesInsecticides 2014: Insect Pressure, Solutions On The Rise
January 2, 2014
Bt resistance, weather concerns and myriad other issues have led to an increase in both traditional pest pressures as well as new pests. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More