Insects may be getting ready to bed down for the winter, some here, some in sunny vacation hot spots, but they'll be back next spring, just in time to remind you they're still around if you forget to plan for them. Planning insect control is not your grandfather's insect control. You don't just apply a soil insecticide or rotate to corn form beans and apply nothing, and figure you're set for the season.
Pests are trickier and there are more species causing problems these days, ala western bean cutworm in the northern third of Indiana, or soybean aphids in the northern half of Indiana, or rootworm larvae in first-year corn, planted into soybean stubble. But there are also a multitude of options. The trick, consultants say, is knowing which treatments you need, which you can afford, and which you can live without.
Some of your decisions will likely come along pretty soon, or maybe they already have. Your seedsman is going tot want to know is you want your corn treated with a new insecticide, at least in some cases, with a product that also controls nematodes, and what level of insecticide you want on the seed- the low, medium or high level.
Then you can buy corn with traits. Do you need all the traits? Do you need control against the newest pest in the state- western bean cutworm. Or do you just need to trap and scout for it so far. That's what Mark Lawson does, field rep for Syngenta based at Danville. He noticed more western bean cutworm larva in his trap this year than last year, about twice as many. But he still didn't see much damage. However, he suspects that in his area in central Indiana, it could possible be an economic problem within a couple of years. Here's where scouting, working with a scout or consultant, or staying up to date with pest and crop newsletters, like those published by the Purdue University Entomology Department, can pay big dividends in helping you decide exactly how much control you need, and where you need it.
Remember that traits don't add yield unless they fend of pests, consultants add. A hybrid may yield more with or without traits- it's the genetics that determines yield potential. It's the traits that protects that potential once its' there. But traits can't protect what isn't in the seed in the first place.
Sit down with your seedsman and your chemical supplier and chart a strategy for insect control that makes sense for you, based upon your rotation, tillage, insect history information, soil types, and economic factors.