Farmers Be on Alert for Corn Earworm

Web AdminAlabama

By Clint Thompson

Alabama sweet corn producers should be mindful that corn earworm populations are spiking and pose a threat to their crop.

Corn Earworm

Katelyn Kesheimer, Auburn University assistant professor and Extension specialist, talked about the insect and described what growers are seeing this year.

“It was hit or miss depending on if you got hit with some of those major storms. We did have some poor pollination, but across the board, we’ve had a bunch of sweet corn harvested that looked really good. I think right now we’re in the midst of a major corn earworm infestation. Some of the late planted sweet corn might be in trouble,” Kesheimer said.

“I know on the field corn side we’re seeing a really high number of caterpillars, lots of moths in the system right now. If sweet corn growers have corn that is still young and about to tassle or are putting on silk, they really need to be making sure they’re ready to spray if they’re not already. There are a lot of corn earworm moths in the system, and conditions are really good for rapid growth, rapid feeding and rapid movement of the adult moths.”

Corn earworms develop, reproduce and eat more when temperatures spike like they did this summer.

Storms and high winds help move adults farther and faster;