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By Ryan McGeeneyThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
PINE TREE, Ark. — Experts with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
are forecasting unusually dense insect and pest populations in crops across the state
this year, due primarily to widespread flooding in the spring and early summer and
subsequently late-season planting.
Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, noted reports
of stink bugs in rice fields throughout the state, after having appeared in large
numbers in grain sorghum fields several weeks earlier, in a mid-August edition of
the Arkansas Rice Report (available through the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas
Row Crops blog at http://www.arkansas-crops.com/).
Soybean pests such as corn earworms are now being observed at about 10 times threshold
levels in some areas. Gus Lorenz, extension entomologist for the Division of Agriculture
in Lonoke, said extension personnel are detecting anywhere from 75 to 100 corn earworms
per 25 sweeps — the process of sweeping through rows with a large, hand-held insect
net and periodically counting the number of insects gathered in the process. Threshold
for stink bugs in soybeans is nine insects per 25 sweeps.
“The high numbers of loopers we’re seeing in soybean fields — which we get every three
to five years — and bollworms and stink bugs, is the highest we’ve seen in four or
five years,” Lorenz said. “Now, the infestation is spotty — not everyone’s facing
that kind of pressure. But in those places where the populations are back, the numbers
can actually exceed 100 per 25 sweeps, which is a lot of worms.”
Lorenz said a concentrated pest presence is a typical challenge associated with late-planted
crops. While rice is less susceptible to crop loss due to flooding, ongoing rains
delayed initial plantings into early June in eastern Arkansas. Other parts of the
state, especially the Red River Valley, saw widespread crop loss as an atypically
wet spring was compounded by weeks of outright flooding in June and July. After waters
receded, many growers chose to plant soybeans as a last, best hope to generate a yield
In rice, stink bugs use their mandibles to pierce the grain, after which their saliva
liquefies the grain, causing the discoloration of the kernel and resulting in pecky
rice, Lorenz said, often leading to yield reductions at a heavy financial cost to
“When the farmer cuts this rice that has heavy infestations of stink bugs, when they
get a certain amount of this pecky rice, they get big discounts, and it makes it very
difficult to turn a profit,” he said.
Lorenz said the sheer number of insects in some fields, combined with the insects’
speedy reproduction rates, can make it increasingly difficult to save a crop even
with the use of pesticides.
“If you get 90 percent control with your insecticide, it’s not even enough,” he said.
When advising growers on methods for dealing with pests, Lorenz said the principal
approach is to scout fields for pests often and consistently, and to contact their
respective Cooperative Extension Service agriculture agents for guidance on the use
of appropriate pesticide mixes when in doubt.
To learn more about common pests, contact your county agent or visit http://www.uaex.uada.edu.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org