Cover Crops Could Attract Insect Pressure
Cover crops are becoming more popular in Indiana, but growers are finding insect pressure can be a problem. Planting cover crops after harvest has many advantages, including saving soil, improving soil fertility, sequestering nitrogen, and improving yields in subsequent crop yields. But Mark Lawson with Syntenga Crop Protection in Hendricks County says cover crops can attract spring insects, “Those environments with all of that material, both dead and alive, is attractive to insects.” He said, for example, black cut worm moths will come in and lay their eggs in the cover crop, feed on it until the corn emerges, and then begin to feed on the corn. Even after the cover crop has been killed, Lawson says it can still be a host for insects, “One of those is the army worm, it particularly likes killed rye and killed grasses. ”
He recommends growers use an insecticide when burning down the cover crop, “It is a good idea to put an insecticide like Warrior in with your burn down, and that will help control your insect problems.” He noted that last year, despite heavy black cut worm populations, growers who used an insecticide with their burndown had very little insect damage.
Get more information on cover crop insect management here.