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Northern Iowa Research Farm holds field day

By Staff | Jun 28, 2019

-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson Erin Hodgson, Iowa State University Extension entomologist provided a pest update during the Northern Iowa Research Farm field day held last week.



KANAWHA – The weather cooperated long enough last week to allow research being conducted at the Northern Iowa Research Farm to be showcased.

During the annual field day, attendees also listened in on presentations discussing weeds, herbicides, cover crops and insects.

Special guests for the day included Daniel Robison, the new dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, and Dan Grooms, the dean of ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Robison, who took over the role as dean in January, greeted the crowd of farmers, agribusinesses, ISU Extension personnel and students, thanking them for attending the field day and provided some background about himself and what it is going to take for a successful future for the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“It’s really quite extraordinary the kind of work that happens at these research stations,” he said. “These are people that help all of us to know what kind of new technologies, new ways to managing our farms and our fields that are emerging and need to be applied and employed.”

The Northern Iowa Research Farm, located on the edge of Kanawha, has been in operation for close to 90 years.

“Ninety years from now, this station will still be here and will still be innovating and advocating for farmers and how we manage our landscapes,” Robison said. “It will be different, just like it is different today as it was 90 years ago.”

He said Iowa is special.

“Because what happens here matters in a global sense; it not only matters to people of Iowa, it matters around the world as this is a bread basket of the world right now,” he said. “We come to a place like Iowa where agriculture is so very important. It’s a great privilege and honor for me and what I hope to do is help you folks add value to what you do. That is my goal. That is my aspiration.”

Grooms began his tenure as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine last October and shared the connection of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and how it all connects to the producer.

“Why is the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at crop’s field day?” he asked. “It’s because I very much understand how connected animal agriculture is to the crop industry here. Whether it’s the crops fed to the livestock, manure that is produced by livestock that comes back. I certainly understand that.”

Grooms said he has spent his entire career working within the cattle industry, specifically in controlling and preventing infectious diseases in cattle.

“I come from an agricultural background,” he said. “I understand the importance of agriculture in the United States economy and certainly understand it to the Iowa economy as well. I’m committed to the College of Veterinary Medicine supporting agriculture here in the state of Iowa.”

He added ISU is in the process of building a brand new veterinary diagnostic lab in Ames that will support both animal agriculture in Iowa and throughout the Midwest and North America.

“We are excited about that and looking forward to that as we kick off the project here within the next year,” he said.

Grooms is also very passionate about seeking ways to help solve the issue of the lack of veterinarians working in rural areas throughout the U.S.

“We are working hard trying to come up with solutions to make sure we have veterinarians working in North Central Iowa, in the upper peninsula of Michigan; it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “We really need to work with the folks that live in these areas to try to come up with solutions.”

Right now, Grooms has two students trying to gather that information regarding those issues by visiting with veterinarians, legislators and others.

“We would be interested in visiting with you,” he said. “You have connections to livestock producers. You have connections to the communities we are trying to bring these people back to. If you have thoughts, ideas on how we can recruit and keep veterinarians in rural Iowa, rural South Dakota, and Michigan – I would certainly love to hear your ideas on this.”

Field crop pest update

Erin Hodgson, ISU Extension entomologist, was on hand to warn about what pests producers should be looking out for starting now and possibly throughout the rest of the growing season.

According to Hodgson, there have been some surprises this year.

“One thing that’s getting a lot of chatter right now is the thistle caterpillar,” she said. “It’s everywhere and you may have problems seeing the caterpillar because they are webbed between the leaves.”

Thistle seems to be what these caterpillars like to feed on, but they also feed on soybeans.

“They mush together a couple of leaves with webbing,” she said. “That’s what people notice.”

The thistle caterpillar isn’t your typical smooth green or brown caterpillar.

“They have what we call branch spines and they can be variable in color,” she said.

The moths, also known as The Painted Lady or Thistle Butterfly, migrate from the south and Hodgson said no one really knows when and where they are going to land or exactly how intense they will be.

In some cases, fields are having defoliation numbers reaching 50 percent.

“That’s every other plant and it’s unusual and that’s why I am talking about it,” Hodgson said. “It’s worth going out and taking a look to see what level you are at. Usually it’s just a few plants here and there. Not sure why they seem to be doing so well this year.”

Other species that are making their way to Iowa fields are the black cutworm and true armyworm.

These tend to make their way here in March and April, when females looking for green vegetation for laying their eggs.

And when you think about what is green in March, Hodgson pointed out the potential issues with cereal rye as a cover crop.

“You can have infestations in the rye that spill over to corn once that rye is terminated,” she said. “That sparks a red flag for me when you have cover crops in the area because that would be attractive for females to lay eggs.”

In addition to the thistle caterpillar, black cutworm and true armyworm, Hodgson said there has been a potpourri of caterpillars this year.

“There’s things I don’t normally hear about,” she said. “It seems to be a good caterpillar year; there is the variegated cutworm, yellow striped armyworm, dingy cutworm. It’s just at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what their names are because a caterpillar is a caterpillar and a bite is a bite in my opinion.”

The issues of caterpillar feeding is that smaller plants can really be impacted.

“They can cut plants, kill the growing point and sometimes you will have stand loss that exceeds 5 percent,” she said. “It could be quite significant. It’s worth your time to look at stand loss. If you are seeing missing plants is it because of a skip? Or something else? Or is it because of an insect came along and just basically chopped it off at the soil line?”

Common stalk borer is another pest that producers should be scouting for.

Hodgson said she has also been hearing more about the pest that over winters in brome grass areas like waterway and fence lines.

“It’s a stem worm that basically, at some point, the house they are feeding in gets too small and you have a dead head among a sea of green brome,” she said. “These dead heads are pretty noticeable. Eventually this house is going to get too small and they are going to move from brome to usually corn and sometimes soybeans.”

Another what Hodgson said is a “burr under a lot of people’s saddle” is the Japanese beetle.

The Japanese beetle is something that could be popping up in crop fields any day.

She called them “pretty recognizable.”

“They’ve got the metallic bronze wing, metallic green head and have white tusks alongside of the body and are about dime size,” she said. “They have a very wide host range that includes soybean and corn.”

There is a lot of concern if the beetles are present when the corn silks come out.

“It’s a huge draw for them,” Hodgson said. “They clip silks and interfere with pollination.”

This is peak corn rootworm egg hatching and Hodgson said if there was an issue in your corn last year and you have corn on that field again, to possibly expect the same intensity or more.

The soybean aphid could also be making its way into Iowa soybean fields soon.

Typical detection is around mid-June, but since the growing season is off to a later start, the soybean aphids may be as well.

Hodgson reminded producers to be aware of the resistant being shown to pyrethroids.

“In the past few years, we have noticed some pyrethroid resistance to soybean aphid,” she said. “It’s been in North America for almost 20 years. Pyrethroids were the go-to choice because of the efficacy and price and we loved it and we loved it to death and now it’s not working as well as it used to.”

If there becomes a need to spray, Hodgson recommends going back out to check for aphids after three or five days and if there are survivors to let her know.

“I want to know,” she said. “I will come up and collect aphids.”

A lot of Hodgson’s focus has been learning and spreading the word about a new soybean pest that has been emerging in Iowa – soybean gall midge.

“It’s a brand new pest. It’s a brand new pest in the world,” she said. “It’s not known to occur anywhere else but western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota and southern Minnesota.”

Oftentimes producers may mistake soybean gall midge damage with a fungal pathogen like soybean cyst nematode and sudden death syndrome.

“When in doubt, if you have a patch that looks like its dead or dying, split those stems open and see,” she said.

Splitting the stems open will allow you to look for larvae. The young ones are clear and harder to detect, but the older ones are orange.

Spraying for some of these pests may have to be considered.

“It’s more defoliation than I am used to seeing and hearing about in soybeans, so spraying is something to keep in mind, especially after bloom,” she said. “We want to protect that vegetation. We want pods and seeds. We don’t want anything interfering with that.”

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