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Japanese beetle and thistle caterpillar causing issues in Illinois soybean fields

This year’s Japanese beetle pressure is the ‘worst’ one agronomist has ever encountered

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

A pair of insects not usually known for causing extensive damage in soybean fields are making themselves home in Illinois, according to Lance Tarochione, a technical agronomist with DEKALB.

“We’ve had the worst Japanese beetle pressure I’ve ever encountered,” he told on Tuesday. “Typically the beetles are around, can be a nuisance and cause some cosmetic injury. But (this year) they’ve been causing economic levels of injury to the point where farmers needed to spray for them.”

Soybean producers have been hit by another insect, which Tarochione finds to be shocking.

“Thistle caterpillar is a new one for me,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have never spoken to anyone (before) about thistle caterpillar in soybeans.

“It’s been a new one to a lot of people, too. The insect impacted a small amount of the total soybean crop, but the fact they’re around at all and need to be controlled makes (the situation) unique.”

Illinois soybean farmers have been, at least to this point, relatively fortunate when it comes to disease pressure in their fields, according to Lance Tarochione.

Farmers were faced with a wet spring, which can lead to weed management challenges. But that issue hasn’t necessarily been the case this year, said Tarochione.

“It’s been a relatively quiet year from the disease standpoint,” he said. “We did have some early wet conditions that can predispose plants to sudden death syndrome (SDS), but we won’t see any symptoms until maybe early August.”

With the exception of some frogeye leaf spot in the southern part of the state as well as some seedling diseases, the soybean crop is progressing well.

The warmer weather is helping keep white mould at bay too, he said.

With some of the soybean crop approaching the R3 growth stage, producers should consider applying fungicides and insecticides soon, Tarochione said.

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