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Corn Rootworm Management

Updated: May 1

Corn rootworm, a formidable foe of corn crops, lurks beneath the soil, often unnoticed until damage becomes evident. At Centra Sota, we understand the importance of equipping farmers with the knowledge and tools necessary to combat this relentless pest.

Understanding Corn Rootworm:

Corn rootworm encompasses several species. We have Northern Corn Rootworms and Western Corn Rootworms in MN with the Northern variety being more predominant. These pests primarily target corn crops, feeding on roots during their larval stage, which can significantly compromise plant health and yield.

Western corn rootworm and northern corn rootworm pests can destroy a corn crop
Meet the silent destroyers: Western and Northern Corn Rootworms. Photo credit: Winfield United

Signs of Infestation:

Detecting corn rootworm infestations early is crucial for effective management. Some signs indicating the presence of these pests include:

  • Stunted Growth: Affected plants may exhibit stunted growth, resulting from root damage that impedes nutrient uptake.

  • Wilting and Lodging: Plants may wilt prematurely or even lodge due to weakened root systems unable to support their weight.

  • Root Injury: Upon inspection, roots may display feeding damage, including pruning, tunneling, and root injury.

Corn rootworm damage
Corn rootworm damage. Photo credit: Winfield United

Prevention Strategies:

Preventing corn rootworm infestations requires a proactive approach and a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical management practices. Here are some recommended strategies:

  • Rotate crops: Plant soybeans when possible to break up corn-on-corn rotations.

  • Choose trait packages: Corn farmers should choose hybrids that feature two traits for maximum corn rootworm control.

  • Use full insecticide rates at planting: Many farmers have become accustomed to getting by using half rates of insecticide. To stand a chance at controlling corn rootworm, make in-furrow insecticide applications using the full rate.

  • Be proactive: Begin scouting for corn rootworm beetles at tassel and continue through early August. Timely foliar insecticide applications will prevent beetles from laying eggs and reduce populations the following year.

  • Control volunteer corn: Western corn rootworm is known to lay eggs in soybean fields, posing a threat to corn crops the following year. Removing its food source prevents larvae from maturing and continuing the cycle.

Stay vigilant for signs of corn rootworm throughout the upcoming growing season, and work with your local agronomist to help guide pest control decisions.

Centra Sota is committed to your success. For more information or product questions contact your local crop advisor.


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