Scout Crops for These Common Pests & Diseases

The growing season is in full swing, and that means opportunities for pests or crop diseases to creep in and cause problems. However, you still have time to protect your crop before any big issues take hold.
“By catching issues early on, growers can still maximize yields and return per acre,” says Brad Ruden, Agtegra Agronomy Technical Services Manager.
Regularly scouting fields is crucial to detecting both insect problems and mid- to late-season diseases. Here’s what you should be looking for.
Identifying Rootworm in Corn
“Signs of corn rootworm damage are fairly easy to spot,” Ruden says. “The corn will look ‘goosenecked’ and when you inspect the roots and you’ll see significant damage from the rootworm larvae.”
Beetles begin showing up when corn starts tasseling, emerging from the soil and feeding on the corn silks and ear tips.
“Monitor corn plants by walking down rows and looking closely at ears, especially the silks,” Ruden suggests. “Do your scouting during either mid-morning or late afternoon, when adult beetles are most active. Count and record the number of beetles per plant.”
If you find an average of five or more beetles per plant, Ruden recommends contacting your Agtegra agronomist to discuss insecticide options.
Another way to diagnose rootworm is by assessing silk clipping during pollen shed. “Randomly select five non-consecutive plants from five to 10 different locations in the field, he says. “Measure the length of the silk that’s sticking out from the ear on each plant.”
“If silks are clipped to within half an inch of the ear tip on one-fourth to one-half of the plants, you’ll want to use some type of control to prevent further damage. If pollination is finished and silks are brown, yields will not be affected.”
Watch Soybeans for These Issues
According to Ruden, grasshoppers and bean leaf beetles are the primary pests to watch out for in soybean fields, but aphids are beginning to appear and aphid issues can grow quickly. We are also beginning to hear reports of some low levels of looper caterpillars chewing on leaves and of spider mites in a few fields. 
“Soybeans might also be hit by mid-season phytophthora. Plants will have a distinct brown line growing up from the soil line, and you might see wilted plants scattered amongst the healthy plants,” he says.
White mold is another concern, which Ruden recommends controlling with fungicide even through the plants’ later reproductive stages.
“Any of our Agtegra agronomists can help you with identifying pests and diseases, and determining a course of action to maximize yields,” he says.