With most of Iowa’s corn in or near the critical pollination stage, farmers are being advised to scout for the usual pests that can do serious damage to a crop.

Iowa State University Extension entomologist Erin Hodgson says pollination can be hampered by several types of insects. “The primary one would be corn rootworm, so we have northern and western corn rootworm that are very attracted to the silks and can clip them while they’re feeding,” Hodgson says. “We also have Japanese beetle and that’s not an everywhere thing in Iowa but there are certainly some pockets in Iowa where they see a lot of clipping because of Japanese beetle.”

Hodgson says it’s crucial producers take the time to walk their fields and seek out these damaging bugs. “For those areas that are having drought stress, that pollination period could be shortened anyway on top of the silk feeding,” she says. “It is an important time to be out there scouting for insects. If it does seem like the clipping is interfering with the pollination, it would be time to take action in order to protect that period.”

While there are several treatment options available to producers, Hodgson says many will have to hire a cropduster to apply pesticides. “The bigger issue is just that at that time of the year, many people will have to contract out an application because the corn is so tall, you either have to get an aerial application or use a high-boy in order to get clearance over the top of the corn,” Hodgson says, “and not everybody has access to that.”

Hodgson says the pest damage can mean smaller ears and a reduced number of kernels and kernel weights, harming yield.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)