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NorthStar News

On the Lookout: Weeds and Bugs 2018

We are well into summer, and stands have been emerging from soil for weeks now across the United States. Frost is no longer the enemy to farmers, and even though most might breathe a sigh of relief to be through that part of the season, there are other opponents looming. Cutworm, white mold, phytopthora, and dozens of other various strains of bacteria and insects gather in fields across the Dakotas and Minnesota damaging crops of the unsuspecting.

2018’s spring was late, and weather was cool and damp. Despite the soybean generally being able to withstand high levels of moisture, there are other factors at play, such as white mold. White mold thrives in damp weather, so when the spring is cold and damp, it sets the stage for white mold to take over if unchecked. “White mold is definitely looking like it could be a concern across our footprint,” says Kyle Krump, Region/District Sales Manager at NorthStar Genetics. He goes on to explain that when spring moisture carries into July, as soon as bean canopies close white mold is a sure thing. “White mold has been a hot topic over the last couple of years,” Krump says.

Cutworm is another common soybean threat, and this year there has been higher than normal instances of cutworm appearing in crops according to Krump. “This year I saw a high amount of cutworm damage in soybeans,” says Krump. He passes on some advice for farmers in the event they also noticed cutworm damage. “Make note of it so you can properly combat it next season. They don’t always affect the same field year in and year out, but you’re at much higher risk on those acres in the future,” he says. Cutworms like to feed at night, so scouting at dusk will best identify whether or not you have a problem. Be wary, as cutworms can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time and will chew right through the base of plants.

Phytopthora is such a common soybean disease that most seed guides will rate how each seed variety stacks up against the threat. “Phytophthora is a unique disease, as it can harm seedlings and damage can be seen all the way into the reproductive stages of the soybean plant,” says Krump. “It’s a pathogen that causes dampening off and rot within the soybean plant, which is the only known host of the disease. It’s becoming more of a problem with each season, because of the pathogens ability to stay alive within the soil for five to ten years.”

Although that seems like a pretty dismal report, Alan Muhs, NorthStar Genetics’ Soybean Production Manager has some tips for fighting this foe to crops “There are a few specific ways to combat against it,” he says. “Specifically, plant high quality seed, ensure crop rotation, treat seed appropriately, plant seed that has genetic resistance, and finally tillage can be helpful in some situations as well.”

Although these are just a few common soybean threats, with proper and thorough scouting your crop will already be miles ahead. Both Muhs and Krump agree that proper pesticide selection will play a key role in fighting crop pests. Catching a threat and acting accordingly is key.

To learn more about crop threats and what you can do to fight them visit or contact your local DSM.