By Clint Thompson
Katelyn Kesheimer’s message to Alabama’s sweet corn producers is simple: “At this point, if your plants are thinking about silking, be prepared to spray.”
The Auburn University Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist advises producers to be mindful of corn earworms and fall armyworms. Both need to be taken care of before infestations get out of control.
“Corn earworm flights are moving through the state. You can scout your silks for eggs, but at that point, they’re so hard to see. If you’re silking, you should be spraying,” Kesheimer said.
Both are very active amid crazy weather conditions this spring.
“I think it’s because we’ve had just weird weather and all of these storm systems. The moths are using those to migrate through at a different kind of timing and pace than they normally would have. We know that fall armyworms love and thrive in drought conditions,” Kesheimer said. “I think the way this year’s been going, we’ve had “flash droughts” where we get a ton of rain, and it dries up very quickly. When that happens, that allows all of the natural enemies and predators to slow down. Then the fall armyworm, which normally would be fed on by these predators, survives more than it normally would.”