Pair of Pests Cause Concern for Sweet Corn Growers

Jaci Schreckengost Corn, Top Posts

Two pest issues have become critical for southeastern sweet corn growers.

Julien Beuzelin, assistant professor of entomology at the University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center (EREC) in Belle Glade, said that he has been in his current position for only about a year, but has seen the affects of two main pests for sweet corn.

The fall armyworm, one of the main pests Beuzelin identified, has a large window of time to potentially affect sweet corn. This worm can feed on multiple parts of the crop, including foliage and ears.

“That’s an insect that actually can be a pest of corn from the moment the seedling comes out of the ground until harvest,” Beuzelin said. The pressure from this pest can be very severe, especially in South Florida.

Beuzelin said the corn silk fly is an equally important pest. This pest only affects the ears of corn, however, it moves very quickly. If a grower misses spraying the crop one time, the silk fly can lay eggs into the ears within 24 hours and be protected from future insecticide applications. There are three different species of this pest that have caused the most critical issues for sweet corn growers.

Some chemicals are available to manage silk flies, however, there continues to be a possibility of some species of the silk flies showing resistance to pesticides. Research for this pest continues as scientists look at insecticides and baits that are not normally tested for managing silk flies. Beuzelin said they are testing the active ingredients in these pesticides to see if there is an effect on this pest.

While Beuzelin said his program at the EREC is fairly new, the research is focused on management of these two pests to benefit growers in the Southeast.

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Jaci Schreckengost

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