This winter was the ninth coldest in around 150 years of record keeping and the persistent cold temperatures were especially brutal.
It looks like some insect populations will suffer, which bodes well for producers with pest pressure.
DuPont Pioneer technical services manager Brent Wilson says insect pressure in the spring generally will be lower because of the cold. Soybean pests that overwinter above ground, like stinkbugs and bean-leaf beetles, are hit the hardest.
“We know once temperatures get below 14 degrees Fahrenheit, that population really has a hard time surviving.” Wilson says other pests are more likely to survive, “Corn root worms, they’re kind of built to survive cold temperatures, and you think about where corn root worms live in the winter time, it’s in the top foot of the soil. And even if the frost goes to four foot in depth, it really hasn’t changed for their ability to survive.”
Wilson also points out it’s not clear how large or small populations will be in specific areas, which means producers probably won’t want to change cropping plans with the expectation of lower pest populations.
But as farmers look ahead to the spring, Wilson says there’s a two step answer for the best defense against pests.
“The seed treatments are very important to help protect that seed from insect pests or early season diseases. And so we highly recommend a premium seed treatment to go in and give us the protection against both soil diseases, and whatever soil pests might be there as far as insects that might feed on that seed or seedling. So that’s probably step one. Step two, as we talked about, is scouting is a big issue because we have tools in the toolbox to control in-season insects, and in-season diseases.”