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Early Season Insect Control in Sweet Corn when Using a Row Cover 2002

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Project Leader(s):

John Mishanec, Area Vegetable IPM Educator, CCE


Albert Sheldon, Sheldon Farms, Salem, NY and Tim Stanton, Feura Farms Feura Bush, NY

Type of grant:

Pheromones; biorationals; microbials; conventional pesticides

Project location(s):

Washington and Albany Counties, applicable throughout the Northeast.


A common technique in cold climates to speed maturity in sweet corn is to start the corn under plastic or floating row cover. Once the corn is from one to two feet tall, the plastic or row cover is removed. Because it is so much farther advanced than sweet corn planted on bare ground the crop attracts early season european corn borer (ECB). Scouting for insect damage is difficult or impossible because the larvae are deep in the plant. Working with two large-scale growers of row cover sweet corn, a successful technique for insect control was identified.. Pheromone traps next to the fields are used to monitor early season flight patterns. At flight peaks, the grower waits 3 to 4 days, than applies an insecticide spray. After another 3-4 days, a second insecticide application is made. No further applications are necessary. Three years of informal observation and one year of data collection have confirmed the results. Growers have developed confidence in using the technique and have achieved both high quality early sweet corn and minimal pesticide application.

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