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Monday, June 13, 2011

Wormy Corn is a Problem

Corn earworm thanks to
Michigan State University
Q. My corn is 3-4 ft high and has ears on it already. According to "the book", I shouldn't be harvesting until mid June by the 'days to harvest' guide. The ears are about half formed. The silks have turned dry and brown, which is when they should be harvested. I pulled one off to see what is going on inside, and it is forming, but I found an ugly green worm about 3/4" long. Is that an army cutworm? I thought they were brown, as that looks like what is feeding on my Lantana. Yuck!

A. You may have planted your corn a bit too late in the season and this may have been because of cold spring weather. This was not a good spring for corn because of the cold weather. In fact, it was not a good spring for many vegetables that prefer heat unless you had a nice warm microclimate for your vegetable garden. The cool spring vegetables were fabulous!

You can try a fall crop of corn by planting the seed around the middle of July or the first part of August. One other reason the corn may have been short is a lack of water. If they were stricken with drought they will not get to their full size but try to produce ears on shorter plants.

Corn showing signs of drought and lack of nitrogen
The insect you describe is corn ear worm. As your corn plant begins to silk or produce those soft silky filaments out of the ends of the young years then you must begin to apply an insecticide to prevent ear worms from damaging the ears. The insecticide can range from oils to Bt or spinosad to a hard insecticide such as Sevin.

Corn showing signs of drought and lack of nitrogen

The insect on your lantana was probably tobacco budworm. Bt or spinosad will work great on these grubs or larvae as well.

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