Black Cutworm On The Move

Corn is top of mind as growers tune up equipment and begin planting this spring. However, damaging corn pests, including black cutworm (BCW), also should be top of mind. Reports indicate that BCW are already on the move from their winter homes to infest fields across the Corn Belt.

Early spring weather systems helped BCW moths make an early appearance in Illinois. They were reported in pheromone traps in late March, according the University of Illinois Extension Integrated Pest Management newsletter, and the migration of BCW has continued through April as moths search for sites to lay eggs.

Pressure from these moths will not be isolated in Illinois. Clinton Meinhardt, a research specialist with Greenley Research Center in Novelty, MO, said that last year, his area saw heavy BCW flights, and he predicts this year will be similar.

“Like with any insect, it’s hard to tell what kind of pressure you’ll have before the season, but BCW is the No. 1 early season pest for corn in our area,” Meinhardt says. “It’s very difficult to predict, but I’m certain economic thresholds will be met this year — it always happens.”

The implication of BCW presence in Northern states so early in the season is not yet known; therefore, it is important for growers to monitor pest reports in their area and prepare for pressure. One way to do that is to plant hybrids with built-in insect protection.

Duane Canfield, marketing specialist for Dow AgroSciences traits and germplasm licensing, notes that built-in insect protection preserves seed investments throughout the season by providing broad-spectrum pest control. Dow AgroSciences offers HERCULEX branded seed with built-in insect protection. “With season-long control of BCW, plus control of European corn borer, western bean cutworm and corn rootworm, HERCULEX XTRA is an excellent fit for many growers.”

“HERCULEX XTRA provides outstanding protection for higher-yielding hybrids and is the most complete trait offering currently available,” he continues.

Growers can discover additional value by choosing HERCULEX hybrids without Roundup Ready technology. And growers who plant at least 75 percent of their corn acres with Biotech Endorsement (BE) hybrids, including hybrids with HERCULEX XTRA Insect Protection, may be eligible for reduced insurance premiums.

To learn more about HERCULEX Insect Protection, visit

(Source: Dow AgroSciences)

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