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Nebraska Farmers Alert - Army Cutworm Threat in Crops

By Farms.com

In the warm climes of western Nebraska, farmers face a burgeoning threat: army cutworms. These pests, notorious for damaging crops such as wheat, alfalfa, and more, have made an early appearance this year. Given the critical importance of these crops, the call to action is clear: it's scouting time. 

Army cutworms are not your average pest. Originating from eggs laid in soil during autumn, these caterpillars spend winter underground, emerging with warmer weather to feast on crops. Their preferred menu - Wheat and alfalfa, though they're not picky, have been known to attack a range of other crops too. 

What makes the army cutworm especially daunting is its capacity for damage. Unlike other cutworm species in Nebraska, the army cutworm can severely reduce crop stands, impacting yields significantly. Their presence is sometimes betrayed by increased bird activity, as birds' prey on these caterpillars. 

Scouting is the first line of defense. With a keen eye, farmers can spot the tell-tale signs of feeding damage and assess cutworm populations. The rule of thumb is to act if there are four or more larvae per square foot, though this threshold drops to two for stressed or newly planted fields. 

If cutworm numbers surpass the threshold, an insecticide application may be necessary. But it's not a decision to be made lightly. Factors such as crop yield potential, control costs, and larvae size must all be weighed. After all, the goal is effective management, balancing economic and environmental considerations. 

Resources abound for those seeking more information. The NebGuide G93-1145-A and the EC130 guidebook offer extensive guidance on managing these pests, including approved insecticide options. 

As Nebraska's farmers gear up for another growing season, the message is clear: vigilance against army cutworms is crucial.  

By staying informed and proactive, the state's agricultural community can protect its crops, ensuring a bountiful harvest despite the challenges posed by these persistent pests. 

For further details on pest management and treatment options, consider exploring the comprehensive guides available at Farms.com


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