Plan Ahead for Western Bean Cutworm Control With Seed Purchases This Fall

Western bean cutworm (WBCW) has been on the move again, infesting cornfields in new territories. Growers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin have experienced the devastation of WBCW for the past several years, and some areas in Ohio saw egg masses and larvae in fields for the first time this season.

INDIANAPOLIS — Sept. 28, 2010 — Western bean cutworm (WBCW) has been on the move again, infesting cornfields in new territories. Growers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin have experienced the devastation of WBCW for the past several years, and some areas in Ohio saw egg masses and larvae in fields for the first time this season. Entomologists predict pressure from the insect could only increase in the coming years in eastern Corn Belt states. 

“If WBCW follows the same trend it has in other states like Michigan and Indiana, growers in Ohio can expect to see economic damage from the insect in the next couple of years,” says Andrew Michel, entomology professor at The Ohio State University. “Usually you’ll see scattered damage before economic damage.”

WBCW larvae feed on pollen during tasseling, on the silks during silking and then finally on the developing kernels. Because the feeding occurs on the ears, the damage directly impacts yield. In a heavily infested field, WBCW can decrease yield by 30 percent to 40 percent. The presence of feeding burrows also makes the ear more prone to fungal and mycotoxin infection. 

“WBCW can cause severe economic loss in corn. In-plant protection is critical for protecting yields because the larvae are difficult to control with a traditional insecticide application,” says Bill Hendrix, Dow AgroSciences North America biology team leader for insect management traits. 

Michel recommends growers become educated about WBCW — understanding its life cycle, tracking its migration and learning how to scout for the insect — before it becomes a major threat in their area. He notes there are many resources on The Ohio State University website at http://entomology.osu.edu/ag/. Other WBCW sources also are available on the following sites:

http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3856.pdf

www.ncipmc.org/teleconference/wbc2007/videos/ 

“As WBCW moves to new territories, no one is certain as to how far this insect will expand and how damaging it might ultimately become,” Hendrix says. “Farmers should consider in-plant protection that includes defense from WBCW so their crop is protected regardless of how infestations might develop in 2011.”

HERCULEX® XTRA Insect Protection is one trait package that controls WBCW.

“HERCULEX provides outstanding protection from WBCW in higher-yielding hybrids and is available at a lower cost for non-Roundup Ready® acres,” says Wally Thingelstad, account manager for HERCULEX Insect Protection.

Dow AgroSciences field trials conducted from 2007 to 2009 show that HERCULEX XTRA Insect Protection helps to protect plants from WBCW larvae by preventing excessive damage to ears. In eight locations over three years, hybrids with HERCULEX XTRA showed significantly less injury than non-Bt hybrids. (See Chart 1).


Broad-spectrum Bt hybrids even benefit growers in areas without a history of WBCW by providing protection from multiple damaging corn insects. HERCULEX® XTRA Insect Protection provides season-long protection from other insects, such as northern, western and Mexican corn rootworm; black cutworm; and European corn borer, protecting corn from insect threats all season.


Pressure from WBCW has been unpredictable in recent seasons. Growers who choose to plant hybrids with in-plant protection next season can be assured their crop is protected from WBCW and other insects.


To learn more about the value of hybrids with HERCULEX® Insect Protection, visit www.HERCULEX.net.

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