Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's Going on in Darke County's Fields? - Justin Petrosino

What is going on in Darke County’s fields this week? There are quite a few different issues that are important to our farmers. Topics range from wheat harvest to insects so let’s dive in!

Many farmers started wheat harvest in the middle of last week. For some harvest will continue through the end of this week. Reports are coming in on yields and vomitoxin levels. Yields are highly variable this year with a range reported from 55 to 95 bu/a. Average yield may fall between 65 and 75 bu/a this year. Last week OSU Extension Plant Pathology released a report on head scab incidence in the state. Incidence levels in Darke County ranged from 8 to 15 %. The report predicted that some vomitoxin would be present in this year’s wheat crop. Vomitoxin levels in Darke County are variable with most early reports stating levels of 2 to 3 ppm. However, levels range from less than 2 ppm to as high as 10 ppm. Statewide reported yields and vomitoxin levels from other counties are about as variable as Darke County.

One thing that isn’t happening in most fields is rain! The faucet turned off at the end of June and if the forecast holds true it will stay dry for at least another week. According to the National Weather Service only Wednesday night holds a chance for any appreciable rainfall this week. Farmers hoping to plant double cropped beans and cover crops may have to alter plans unless chances of rainfall increase. Corn and soybeans continue to grow through the lack of rainfall with corn ranging from the v6 growth stage and averaging a foot and a half high to some early planted corn reaching chest height. Of course early is a relative term this year meaning mid-May!

As the corn continues to grow Darke County reported its first western bean cutworm in a monitoring trap this past week. Populations have been on the rise statewide since 2006 when the first moth was trapped in Ohio. The moth typically flies from late June and early July until just after the fair. During the flight the moths lay eggs on the most recently emerged leaf from the whorl. Eggs are initially white then turn purple 24 hours before hatching. Larvae emerge and migrate to the corn ear where they can cause significant damage. In past years eggs and larvae were discovered in only a handful of fields in Ohio with no fields reaching economic thresholds. If a Bt corn hybrid with activity on western bean cutworm was not planted this year fields should be scouted for eggs and larvae. Control with an insecticide is only warranted if 8 % of plants in a field have eggs or larvae present. Timing is critical to catch larvae before they migrate to the corn ear. After the larvae enter the ear insecticides are not effective. For more information on the western bean cutworm and its management visit or visit the Extension office for a factsheet.

Another insect making its way to the county is the soybean aphid. 2011 is predicted to be a year of high soybean aphid populations in some regions of the state. Reports from Michigan and several parts of Canada indicate high soybean aphid populations. The insects will undoubtedly migrate south, but if they will be a pest in Darke County this year is still to be determined. While scouting soybean fields farmers should check 100 plants for aphids. If aphids are present at 250 insects per plant and the population is rising treatment is warranted. Counting aphids can be a pain but thankfully there is a brochure at the Extension Office that is available for free with clear pictures of what a few, a lot, and 250 insects per plant looks like.

For more information on any of these matters contact Justin Petrosino at the OSU Extension Darke County Office at (937) 548-5215 or

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