As corn harvest rolls in early, multiple pests may threaten future crop production in Crawford County and the greater Wildcat Extension District.
According to Wildcat Extension Agent Josh Coltrain, corn is currently being cut in Montgomery County — although he expects a very spread out harvest.
Short day corn is the type being cut now — or cut soon — while long day corn still has some maturing to do. Coltrain said farmers generally plant both types, but the short day corn was a good bet this year.
“This year, I’d say the guys with short day corn are very happy,” he said. “It pollinated early and matured before the drought and heat.”
Coltrain said choosing corn type is a gamble, while short day corn did well this year, if the conditions were more ideal, long day would produce a higher yield. However, recent heat and drought will likely inhibit long day corn production.
Soybeans can also be damaged by drought and heat, but Coltrain said they will hold on until the area sees some moisture. He is more concerned with podworms in the soybean crop, which he predicts will be a big problem this year.
“I have a crop consultant friend who checked a field of corn for earworms and 17 of the 18 ears he picked had signs of earworm damage,” Coltrain said. “When those worms turn to moths, they will head for the soybeans.”
Earworms and podworms are one and the same, only separated by name based upon what crop they are found in.
Another possible threat to future crops is Palmer amaranth. The plant is a more aggressive relative of the waterhemp plant, and Coltrain said it has been found in the district.
“Now that we’re looking for it we are seeing it all over,” he said.
The state of Iowa recently declared Palmer amaranth a noxious weed, and it is a threat because of its high reproduction rate.
“Palmer amaranth is an incredible seed producer,” Coltrain said. “Under ideal conditions, a single plant can produce one million seeds.”
The plant spreads quickly and can choke out other plants. Coltrain said it can also be resistant to commonly used herbicides.
Coltrain said conditions have not been ideal, which will help curb the spread of Palmer amaranth, but the county could see the plant’s population increase by the thousands or more next year.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.