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Eastern New York Field Crops Pest Report, 2003

For 9/10/03:


Potato Leafhopper
I found 5 individual potato leafhoppers in 6 alfalfa fields this week at the SUNY Cobleskill farm (Sept. 9). The population of potato leafhoppers has declined dramatically over the last few weeks.

For more information, see Potato Leafhopper on Alfalfa Management Guide, 302k pdf file

Picture of potato leafhopper

Field Corn

Corn Rootworm
I am still seeing corn rootworm in most corn fields at the SUNY Cobleskill farm (Sept. 9). There were many more northern corn rootworm adults this week. Still the majority of rootworm beetles in the field were western.

How to Monitor for Corn Rootworm

Common Smut in Field Corn
I observed many corn plants infected with a disease called common smut at the SUNY Cobleskill farm this week (Sept. 9). Common smut is caused by the fungus Ustilago zeae, which overwinters in corn residue or soil. The spores, called teliospores, germinate in moist air and give rise to tiny spores called sporidia. The sporidia can infect through unwounded cells, but wounds caused by insects, cultivation, hail, or blowing soil are important infection sites as well. The disease grows into a gall that is covered with a white membrane. The inside of the gall turns into a mass of powdery black spores. The disease is favored by excess nitrogen, excess manure or herbicide injury, and warm weather. Management of this disease is through selecting resistance hybrids.

Smut galls are not poisonous to animals. In fact, immature smut galls are considered a delicacy in some Latin American countries. I have heard they taste like a good mushroom!

Ruptured smut galls and black spores on corn ear.

Birds and Deer Damage Corn Ears
This week I have seen an excess of ear damage caused mostly by birds, but also deer at the SUNY Cobleskill farm (Sept. 9). The husk covering the corn was pulled back and about a 1/3 of the grain was gone. Some of the ends of the ears were bitten right off by deer.