Still recovering – armyworms 2021

About this time last summer, the first reports of fall armyworms started rolling in. Let’s hope 2022 is a much less damaging year, because many are still recovering from 2021.

If your hay stands never recovered from last summer’s feeding and now you’re giving though to reseeding brome, start planning now. Fall is the preferred seeding window for cool season forages with plantings recommended from mid-August until mid-late September.

Start with a soil sample if you don’t have a recent one. If amendments are needed, apply prior to planting if possible. This is especially true if lime is recommended.

Evaluate weed pressure. Established plants will tend to have a competitive advantage over new seedlings, so elimination of existing vegetation via tillage or herbicides should be considered. When applying herbicides, use products that will allow planting in a timely manner. Some broadleaf herbicides require a replanting interval of a couple weeks or longer, potentially pushing you later than desired in to the planting window (see this list for some restrictions: https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/agr_social/article_new/herbicides-for-damaged-brome-hayfields-479-2). For best results, weeds need to be actively growing, meaning moisture is important.

A nurse crop like wheat is often considered to help protect highly erodible soils while providing a potential forage crop in newly seeded areas the following spring. Avoid high seeding rates of nurse crops and choose wisely. Some commonly used winter cereals at high seeding rates may keep brome from establishing well as they take up nutrients and use moisture.

Seeding rates are based on the amount of pure live seed (PLS), so a germination test will be key to knowing how much seed we can expect to sprout and grow. Seeding rates for well-prepared seed beds are in the 12-15 pounds PLS per acre range while poor seedbeds will likely benefit from seeding rates closer to 20 pounds PLS. Drilling is recommended over broadcasting to increase chances of successful establishment (broadcast applications also require higher seeding rates than drilled). Plant at a quarter to a half inch deep or cover seed only slightly. 

Weather is still going to dictate our success, but a good reseeding plan should begin sooner than later. For more seeding information, see the KSU Smooth Brome Production and Utilization publication at https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/c402.pdf, or any District Office.

Blister Beetles

Lot of other insects get a lot of attention in the summer – Japanese beetles and Green June beetles are both bright colored and do a lot of damage. One that’s more hidden – but still does a lot of damage by quickly stripping vegetables (especially tomatoes) – is the blister beetle.

There are several species, most a half to three quarters of an inch long coming in black, gray or brown striped. What makes them instantly recognizable is their elongated, narrow, cylindrical, soft bodies with middle body part (thorax) narrower than the head or wing covers.

If removing them from plants by hand, wear gloves. As their name implies, they emit an irritant capable of blistering internal and external body tissues exposed to the chemical.

If populations are large, consider chemical controls using products containing cyfluthrin or permethrin. Many products have a zero-day waiting period on tomatoes, but always read and follow product labels prior to application.

David Hallauer60 Posts

David Hallauer is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the areas of horticulture and crops and soils.

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