Watch out for black cutwork feeding!

As I have been out monitoring my black cutworm pheromone traps I am seeing a spike in moth flights, which could eventually lead to serious black cutworm issues in the next following month. DATCP is projecting that May 20th will be the average date when larvae are reaching their maximum damage potential.  One black cutworm can cut down as many as 4 or 5 plants in its larval stage.

With a wide range of hosts black cutworm can be a problem not only in corn but also in soybeans, sunflowers, and other agronomic crops. When scouting be sure to pay attention to low wet areas, patches of fields that have early weed development as well as fields that use reduced tillage systems.

When scouting fields check 10 plants in 10 different areas of the field to record the percent of plants displaying feeding symptoms, if feeding is greater than 3% an insecticide treatment may be considered.

Consult your Allied Agronomy Advisor for control options if you believe you are at threshold. — Josh Johnson, Agronomist

BCW pheromone traps

Pictured above are the black cutworm moths that I found in my pheromone trap.

Cutworm damage

Evidence of black cutworms feeding on young corn plant.


A young corn plant that was cut off by a black cutworm.

Green Plants and Brown Pods?

The picture below was take by Dr. Mike Weiss, showing a curious condition we are seeing in some areas.   It has been brought about by the weather conditions we have seen this season.  It is best to be aware of it and plan your harvest schedule accordingly.    I also attached an article from Purdue giving some additional information.    Please have a safe and productive harvest!   Let us know if we can yield check any of your fields.

rob 10-10-13


Green stem syndrome present in some Indiana soybean fields

?????????????????By Amanda Gee | Posted on 9/30/2013

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Some Indiana soybean fields are showing symptoms of green stem syndrome, a Purdue Extension soybean specialist says.

Green stem syndrome occurs when soybean pods and seeds mature – turning harvest color and drying out – while the stems remain green. Late-season stresses that interrupt seed-fill, such as weather, the environment, viral diseases or insect infestations, usually cause the problem.

“It’s been noticed around the state, spots here and there where later-in-the-season weather stressed the plants,” Shaun Casteel said. “The dry weather and heat caused plants to abort pods. The plants’ demand for pod development and seed fill wasn’t there anymore, so the plants started maintaining the stem as the plant matured.”

Casteel said farmers should go into fields that seem to be browning and see if both the pods and stems are maturing.

“This year with some of those green stem-type fields, producers need to take a look at the pods themselves and the grain to see if they are dry enough for harvest,” he said.

Soybeans should be harvested at or slightly above 13 percent moisture to maximize yield, but green stems are tough to harvest.

Casteel said producers with fields exhibiting green stem syndrome have two options.

The first is to harvest the beans at optimal grain moisture to capture water weight. Doing so likely will slow harvest and increase fuel costs because of the green stems.

“For harvest, be prepared to have to ‘chew’ through fields with green-stem syndrome with the combine, especially with older equipment,” Casteel said.

Another option is to wait and harvest the plants when the stems turn brown. This option is easier on equipment but likely will reduce yield due to lost water weight. Delaying harvest for a few weeks also could allow the pods more time to dry out and possibly shatter.

“Producers need to be aware that this phenomenon is occurring so they can make informed decisions about optimizing harvest and reducing losses in yield and profit,” Casteel said.


— Rob Shields, Agronomist

Grain Plant Hours for September 28 & 29

The Adams grain plant will be open on Saturday, September 28, from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. and by appointment. The Mauston, West Salem, and Tomah grain plants will be open by appointment only. Please call the following numbers for service this weekend.

Adams grain plant: (608) 339-0357

Mauston grain plant: (608)547-8302

Tomah grain plant: (608)547-6149

West Salem grain plant: (608)799-3622

– David Rappa, Director of Grain

Soybean harvest under way

The soybean harvest has taken off in the area. I just talked with a grower west of Galesville and they are opening up some fields as we speak. He said they are definitely dry enough and to plan on soil sampling everything early next week. Fall is a great time to get all of your soil sampling completed. A few key things to remember about sampling this fall: sample the fields prior to any tillage, and before any manure, fertilizer, or lime is applied. This way you get an accurate sample. A corn field was also recently harvested up this way, the moisture ranged from 16% to 31% and test weights from 49 to 52.

– Rob Shields, Agronomist

Stink bugs damaging my corn?

According to the following article from Ohio State, we can see injury in corn. See the pictures they provided in the article below so you can see what the damage looks like. The authors also mention that sweet corn is more prone to stink bug damage. Read the article below for further information and let us know if you think you spot some in one of your fields.

Corn Ears Showing Stink Bug Injury

Andy Michel, Ron Hammond, Celeste Welty, Peter Thomison, Ohio State University  |   September 23, 2013
Stink bugs on corn.

Stink bugs on corn.

Stink bug damage in soybeans is well documented in Ohio. However farmers may be surprised to learn that stink bug injury can also be seen in corn. Usually the damage in field corn is localized to “scarring on kernels” or causing a “mottled” appearance near the tip of the ear but severe injury has been observed (see photo). Sweet corn is particularly susceptible to stink bugs, with similar damage symptoms.’

Stink bug damage on corn.

Stink bug damage on corn.

Last week we saw stink bug injury at the Northwest Branch near Hoytville and the Waterman Farm in Columbus. At Waterman, the damage was associated with brown marmorated stink bugs, but green stink bugs were more common at NW Branch. Damage was evident on husks where stink bugs appeared to be feeding (see photo). In the southern states, stink bugs cause significant losses in field corn. When stink bugs pierce through the husk and feed on the ear during early development, the cob will not develop on that side, but continue growing on the back side giving the ear a characteristic banana shaped appearance.

The shuck will also stop developing, exposing the grain to bird and insect damage. Injury also includes shrunken and/or missing kernels. Heavy stink bug populations can reduce not only yields but also the quality of the grain. While we have not seen any economic losses from stink bugs in field corn, growers should be aware of their presence and the damage they can cause.


– Rob Shields, Agronomist

– Rob Shields, Agronomist

Supporting Biotechnology

Today more than ever it is important to support the agricultural industry as a whole. There are many special interest groups out there trying to push their own agendas on the general public. So please support efforts such as the one I’ve shared below to show our newest technologies in a positive light.

Letter circulating supports biotechnology

CropLife America  |   September 23, 2013

CropLife America joined a number of allies in signing on to a letter to World Food Prize president Kenneth Quinn in support of modern agriculture, specifically the role of biotechnology in helping to feed the world.

It also expresses appreciation for the theme and honorees of this year’s World Food Prize.

The event, which will be held in Des Moines in mid-October, is unfortunately being criticized in some NGO activist circles for honoring three leaders in agricultural biotechnology research.

This letter serves a similar purpose as that which was signed last year and sent to the President supporting the role of ag innovation in feeding the world.

Public opinion surrounding GMOs seems to be slowly shifting, and this is just another step on the road to increasing public knowledge and consideration of the great potential of this technology.

To read the letter click here.


– Rob Shields, Agronomist

More rain last night & taking a crop of alfalfa in mid-September

I got 1.5 inches in my gauge when I checked it this morning, from yesterday & last night. Well we could have really used this rain 6 weeks ago for our soybean crop. But this rain will definitely help the wheat that has been planted recently and any fall seeded alfalfa. Someone asked me yesterday if they can take a crop of alfalfa now. The quick answer is I prefer that you don’t. If you need the feed then you will need to take a cutting, but if there is not a strong need or another crop at your operation it is a lot easier on the stand to leave it alone after September 1st. When you take a late cutting now, you are forcing that plant to use more energy above ground instead of storing up reserves for winter. If you do take a cutting please be sure that your potassium levels are adequate to help build up energy for the upcoming 6 months. I ran into a grower that was still seeding alfalfa yesterday. In my opinion it is getting a little late, but he said the seed he planted a few weeks ago is just coming up so this new batch will not be far behind.

– Rob Shields, Agronomist

A new soybean disease enters Wisconsin: Soybean Vein Necrosis Disease (SVND)

Soybean Vein Necrosis Disease

Soybean Vein Necrosis Disease (source:

Soybean diseases are always hard to diagnose. I use the color picture guides as a reference but if I cannot positively identify them I usually send down a sample to the UW Plant Disease Diagnostic clinic for a positive identification. Remember a virus, like the soybean vein necrosis virus, cannot be controlled with a fungicide. The best way to prevent a soybean virus is to keep the thrips away from your crop. Thrips infect the soybean plants when they feed upon them, similar to how mosquitoes transmit the west Nile virus. No matter what disease you suspect you may encounter out in your soybean fields, the best defense is a having a strong, well-fed plant with as few stressors acting upon it as possible.

I found the following article by Damon Smith (Extension Field Crops Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison) in the recent edition of the Wisconsin Crop Manager to be very insightful.

In 2012 soybean vein necrosis disease (SVND) was described for the first time in Wisconsin. This is a relatively new disease of soybean, which is caused by Soybean vein necrosis virus (SVNV). SVNV was first described in 2008 in the Mid-south soybean production region. Since then, SVND has been found in much of the major soybean production region of the U.S. including the North Central region.

SVNV is a Tospovirus similar to Tomato spotted wilt virus. It is the first Tospovirus known to infect soybean. Tospoviruses are known to be very destructive on other plant crops, therefore, there is a lot of interest in determining the importance of SVNV in soybean production systems. Very little is actually understood about the epidemiology and also the management of SVND. Researchers around the country are working on various aspects of the system and several state and regional soybean commodity boards have funded research on SVND.

Recently Zhou and Tzanetakis (2013) described some of the first studies on the epidemiology of SVNV. Their findings suggest that SVNV is like other Tospoviruses in that it is primarily transmitted by thrips vectors. Soybean thrips are a commonly occurring insect in the Mid-south and were used in their studies to demonstrate that the virus can be transmitted via thrips vectors. In Wisconsin, soybean thrips are not as common. However, other species of thrips can be found in soybean fields depending on the time of the season. Through funding granted by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing board, our laboratory is currently monitoring thrips populations in soybean fields around the state. We are evaluating thrips species and populations over time through trapping methods. We are also surveying these fields for SVND severity and documenting any variety resistance in soybean cultivars commonly grown in Wisconsin. Finally, we have separate trials were we are evaluating yield loss due to SVNV. Our research will complement research in other states and the results will be used to develop and disseminate management recommendations for SVND in the North Central Region over the next several years.


– Rob Shields, Agronomist

Agronomy Update

Well I finally got some rain at my place after 6 weeks. I had just under an inch from Saturday night into Sunday morning. It’s not a surprise that August 2013 was the 40th driest month out of the last 119 years in Wisconsin. We were, however, near normal for temperature. See charts below. (Charts & photos received from our regional agronomist Michael J Weiss, Ph.D. of Monsanto.)


Shawn Conley at the University of Wisconsin developed the following map to help show the median dates of the first frost in Wisconsin. As you can see, 50% of the time over the last 29 years or 15 years out of 29, we had 32 degrees by these date windows. So in my home county of Juneau, half the time we would have gotten a frost of 32 degrees by the 21st  to 30th of September. To see the progress of crops across the country, download this PDF:


Dr. Weiss took this picture in Central part of the state, at a field day, classic anthracnose stalk rot symptoms on the stalk. We need to continue to watch our fields and prioritize that harvest schedule not based on grain moisture as much as stalk condition this year. To read more about corn stalk rot identification and scouting, download this PDF from Monsanto:


Have a safe and productive harvest!

– Rob Shields, Agronomist

For more

Corn silage moisture dropping fast!

One of our sales agronomists at Mauston checked some corn silage fields today and dried down 4 different samples today in our microwave. The samples ranged from 62 to 67% moisture, so it is time to harvest these fields and many others. Please check your fields now or ask one of our feed or agronomy specialists for assistance. Please have a safe corn silage harvest season.

– Rob Shields, Agronomist