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Plant & Pest Advisory > Field & Forage Crops

Contact Information

The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers.
Visit your local county extension office.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keep watch for armyworms

Our wheat fields are beginning to dry down. Watch for clipping of heads from armyworms. Also watch for armyworms moving from small grain fields into corn fields. It seems every year we have local hot spots of armyworm infestations. Unfortunately, growers are caught off guard many times and realize they have a problem when it is too late. I have not seen any problems yet, but this is prime time for a problem to occur. Often a big clue that you may have a problem is if you see birds diving into your wheat field. The birds are generally feeding on the worms when this is happening. If you find armyworms they must be less than one inch to achieve effective control.

Bill Bamka

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NJAES Selected Ag Programs Calendar

Contributors: Holding a Twilight Meeting or running a Workshop? Post it yourself on the NJAES Selected Ag Programs Calendar and let other Ag Agents, Specialists, and Ag Professionals know about it. See an event you don't want to forget? Download it to your own calendar. Can't recall the date of your last group meeting? Scroll back through to find it. Keep abreast of what's happening at Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
For details email Jack Rabin.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cereal Leaf Beetle in Wheat

I am starting to get many calls about cereal leaf beetles in wheat. This is not an easy call to make regarding control at this stage of crop development. I'll give some guidelines to help make the decision as to whether or not control is warranted for your fields.

  • First, the established threshold is 0.5 to 1 larvae per stem. This number is obtained by sampling 100 stems in multiple locations in the field. Distribution of larvae is not always uniform across a field so make sure you sample at several locations within the field. 
  • The second thing to consider is what stage of crop development your field is in. Generally, we are concerned with damage through the soft dough stage. Some fields I have seen are past this stage others have not yet reached it. 
  • The next thing to consider is what percent of the field is showing leaf damage. Typically, we don't treat unless 10% leaf damage or greater is present. Also keep in mind that the upper most leaves are responsible for grain fill. We need to protect the flag leaf and one or two leaves below for grain fill. 
  • Next , we need to look at the yield potential of the crop. This is where the price of your wheat comes into play. At this stage of the game many advise that we need to be looking at protecting fields with 60 bushel or more yield potential. Keep in mind we also need to consider how much wheat will be damaged by running across the field with a sprayer at this stage of crop development. 

As you can see this is not necessarily an easy decison to make at this point in time for some growers. This is a photo of cereal leaf beetle damage in wheat taken by Penn State Entomologist Dr. John Tooker.

Bill Bamka

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Potato Leaf Hopper Watch

My colleagues in central Pennsylvania are reporting that they are beginning to see Potato Leaf Hoppers. Our current weather pattern has not only brought rain, but an early arrival of PLH. PLH is one of the primary pests of alfalfa. If you have alfalfa begin to keep an eye out for PLH. Scouting and Control recommendation for PLH can be found in the Mid-Atlantic Pest Management Recommendations for Field Crops.

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weed Control after the Rains

With the signifcant and long lasting rain events, we may see some compromised weed control efforts in our various crops. As a reminder, we have some comprehensive publications authored by our University of Delaware and Rutgers Cooperative Extension scientists, that can help look at choices and issues to consider in weed control management. Click on the following for links to the appropriate publications:Weed Control

Zane Helsel

Replanting Decisions

With all the wet weather you may have parts of fields where stand loss is significant. Alot of factors such as extent of stand loss, seed and fuel costs, crop insurance, herbicides planned/used, etc go into a decision to replant. The first decision is can you drive the planter down through the field and replant skips or waterlogged area that have dried. If the field sustained more substantial loss, then doing a stand count is essential. With corn, if you have 70% or more of the initial targeted population (as an example 20,000 out of 28,000 hoped for) remaining and plants are fairly evenly spaced, its probably not economical to tear up the field and replant. With soybeans, if you have 4 plants/ft of row in 30" rows or 1 plant/ft of row in drilled beans that are reasonably spaced there is probably no benefit to replanting, especially if it remains wet and you cant get in the fields for a week or more. If you do replant, you can stick with your intended variety/hybrid maturities unless you have some really long season ones which you likely should avoid, especially with corn after June1.

The above are very general statements. You can find alot more detailed and useful information from an Iowa State publication.

Zane Helsel

Monday, May 23, 2011

Watch for slugs

I had a report today of slug damage in a no-till soybean field. With the wet weather pattern we have been in it is important to check no-till corn and soybean field for slug damage. This is particularly important for fields that have had a history of damage. Penn State has a fact sheet that provides information on managing slugs in field crops. Hopefully, with some warm and sunny days the crop will soon be able to outgrow the damage.

Bill Bamka

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Corn Stand Counts

Now is a great time to estimate corn populations and make replant decisions.  In most cases, plant populations of 28-32 thousand plants per acre result in optimum yields.  A fast way to estimate plant populations is to use the 1/1000th of an acre method.  For 30" rows, measure 17' 5" and count how many plants are in that distance and multiply by 1000.

Stephen Komar

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cereal leaf beetle in Timothy

I was called to a farm today to look at a timothy field to see why the leaves were being skeletonized. The damage was being caused by cereal leaf beetle larvae. We are most familiar with cereal leaf beetle being a pest of wheat. However, cereal leaf beetle can also be found on forage grasses, including orchardgrass and timothy. Penn State Cooperative Extension has a cereal leaf beetle fact sheet that provides additional information on identification and management of this pest.

Bill Bamka

First Cutting Hay

Past statistics suggest the "average" NJ farmer cuts hay about 2 weeks too late. Cutting date, and more specifically, stage of growth is the single most important factor affecting the nutritional value of hay. Alfalfa (and in mixtures with grass) should be cut at full bud to 1/10th bloom, clovers at 1/4 to 1/2 bloom and grasses as heads are emerging (which many are in right now). For clarity, 1/10th bloom is when just 1 out of every 10 stems has just one flower showing which is something you can't see by driving past the field. So when it stops raining this week it's likely time to start (and/or continue) harvesting hay in most of the state. Remember, there are many ways to make poor quality hay, but starting on time is the best way to have a chance to make great quality hay!

Zane Helsel

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Watch for aphids

I have been getting some reports from my extension colleagues in southeastern Pa about aphids in Timothy and from Delaware about aphids in small grains. Though, I have not seen any aphid problems in field crops in our area. It is a good idea to scout wheat fields to look for possible aphid populations moving from the plants to grain heads. Scouting information and control recommendations for aphids are available in the Mid-Atlantic Field Crop Pest Management Recommendation Guide. 

Bill Bamka

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Slugs in Corn

Our wet weather pattern has been ideal for slugs. While out in a no-till corn field in Burlington County yesterday I saw some slug damage in the field. With late corn planting we are likely to see an increase in slug damage. Keep an eye on fields with a lot of residue and wetter, low lying fields. In previous years we have seen significant slug damage in both corn and soybeans. Hopefully, last years hot and dry growing season will result in reduced slug populations this season. Penn State has a fact sheet that provides information on managing slugs in field crops.

Bill Bamka

Cereal Rust Mite on Timothy

I have been out scouting some timothy fields the last few days and have been seeing quite a few timothy field with infestations of cereal rust mite. Many growers have been reporting cereal rust mites in their timothy. Remember that this pest can reduce both yields and quality of timothy hay. Remember to take a look at your timothy fields. As we have said before if your timothy field looks like it is experiencing drought stress symptoms you probably have cereal rust mite. With all the rains we have had timothy fields should not be under drought stress. There is a Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension fact sheet that provides more information on cereal rust mite in timothy hay.

Bill Bamka

Monday, May 9, 2011

Congress to Determine Smith-Lever Ag Appropriation Friday, May 13

Congress considers the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill this Friday, May 13th.
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 is a partnership between USDA and America's land-grant universities and provides funding for delivery of Cooperative Extension programs vital to the people of the United States. States are required to provide at least a one-to one match.
Cooperative Extension needs your help. Sustained funding is critically needed for Extension to continue to help producers, consumers, families, and communities find science-based solutions to significant problems.
Visit Effective Political Communications for information on how best to voice your support for Cooperative Extension by contacting your Representatives and Senators.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Powdery Mildew in Wheat

I have run across a few wheat fields in Burlington County today with heavy infestations of Powdery Mildew. Mild temperatures, high relative humidity and dense stands favor the development of powdery mildew. The disease can result in reduced kernel size and test weight and ultimately lower yields. Greatest yield losses occur when the flag leaf becomes severely diseased by heading. It is important to protect the flag leaf and leaf below from disease for maximum yield. The Penn State Agronomy Guide has further information on managing diseases in small grains. Fungicides are available for controlling powdery mildew.  Fungicides can be applied based on the level of disease in the field, the known susceptibility of the variety, and the selling price of the grain.

Bill Bamka

Farming on the Fringes

One question that I get on a regular basis is about the storage and management of manure on livestock farms. Where can I store it, how far from a stream or a neighbor should it be stored, what other management requirements might there be. A survey of New Jersey horse farmers taken several years ago indicated that over 80% of survey respondents stored manure over 200 feet from water, wetlands or a neighbor. Some guidelines for manure storages are found in the following table.