Recent Updates

Breaking the Green Bridge

As general rule, no-till production increases the risks from pests including slugs, cutworm, threecornered alfalfa hopper and several below ground pests such as wireworm and southern corn rootworm. Tillage is not an option in most of Tennessee’s agricultural landscape. This leads entomologists to recommend spring “burndown” applications 4 weeks in advance of planting. The goal is to “break the green bridge” or eliminate alternative hosts (weeds, cover crops) well before planting the cash crop.

However, making burndown applications 4 weeks prior to planting isn’t always possible or it doesn’t align with the goals of having cover crops. One way to help mitigate potential insect issues in late burndown is to add a pyrethroid insecticide with your herbicide application or within 7 days of planting. Beware blooming and pollinator attractive cover crops (vetch, brassica species) may have foraging honey bees and pyrethroids should not be utilized until the plants are not longer attractive to pollinators (desiccated or senescing from herbicides).

Utilizing insecticide seed treatments will offer protection against pest insects that may feed on your cash crop. If you are planting green (not burning down cover crops until after planting) I highly recommend a robust insecticide seed treatment and a pyrethroid insecticide that is included with the burndown herbicide. In corn this would be Poncho 500 or 1250, in soybeans Gaucho or Cruiser treated seed and in cotton Gaucho or Aeris based treatments will offer adequate protection from most below ground and some above ground pests. Keep in mind, seed treatment residual activity is strongly influenced by environmental factors, plant growth and amount of AI on the seed.

Cutworm and cut corn plant
Cutworm and cut corn plant

Cutworms in corn and cotton are uncommon but can be a serious pest. Pyrethroid applications within a week of planting will significantly reduce the risks of cutworm issues at low cost. Insecticide seed treatments are normally not enough to control cutworms and Bt traits in corn and cotton can offer mixed results depending on the traits. Three gene corn and cotton (those that include the Vip trait) provide better cutworm control than dual gene corn and cotton (V2TP, BG2 etc).

Overall, I like to see farmers planting in grave yard dead fields of weeds or cover crops but that isn’t always the case. Providing protection for your cash crop, at a relatively low expense, may help avoid the painful and costly decision to replant.


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Assessing freeze damage to jointing wheat: what to look for and what to expect

The front which moved through this past weekend (3/18-3/20) brought low temperatures down within a few degrees of records set back in 1965.  Based on the growth stage and temperatures observed, I believe we will see damage in some of our wheat.  In this blog article, I cover basic information on the conditions that led to the injury and how best to assess the level of injury in your wheat crop following a freeze near jointing. Continue reading

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ID and Burndown Options for Wild Garlic, Grape Hyacinch and Star-of-Bethlehem.

Picture 1. Grape hyacinth infestation 2023

This spring some fields seem to be infested more heavily with wild garlic, grape hyacinth and in a few cases, star-of-Bethlehem. These three weeds, in the Lily family, are often mistaken for each other as they all derive from bulbs and are low-growing perennials. Continue reading

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PRE and POST Options for Prickly Sida (Tea Weed) Control in Soybean

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Prickly sida or tea weed has increasingly become more of an issue in soybeans.   There are two reasons for this.  First, the Group 15 herbicides (Dual Mag, Warrant, Zidua) are the most common PRE-applied herbicides utilized.  Though that group of herbicides provides good residual control of pigweed and grasses, it provides no help on sida.  Second, is that glyphosate nor dicamba has ever been very effective on this weed.  The only POST option that can give some control is Liberty.  However, even Liberty is limited to controlling only very small (<3”) prickly sida. Continue reading

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It is “Burndown Time in Tennessee.”

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Failed glyphosate + dicamba burndown on ryegrass before corn planting in 2022

The combination of some lingering supply chain issues, most notably Sharpen and Verdict are in tight supply, with the ever-increasing presence of herbicide resistant weeds has made burndown time more of a challenge. On a positive note, glyphosate is in great supply and down in price about 40% compared to last year. Continue reading

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Cotton Focus is WEDNESDAY (Feb 8th); agenda now available

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Cotton Focus will be held Wednesday, Feb. 8th, at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center (605 Airways Blvd, Jackson, TN 38301).  The agenda has been finalized and we are very excited about our speaker line-up.  Points will be provided and the event will conclude with lunch from Tulum.

Additionally, the annual meeting of the Tennessee Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF) will be held after lunch in Room 127 of the West Tennessee Ag Research & Education Center at Jackson.  All producers are invited to attend.

Looking forward to seeing each of you there!

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