PEANUT GROWER, June, 2003
Southern corn rootworms (SCRs) can cause havoc in a peanut field. SCRs have been a pest of North Carolina and Virginia for many years, causing pod damage and economic loss.
Now growers have an easy way to determine if their field is at risk and whether they should treat for rootworms - the SCR Advisory.
Researchers and Extension faculty at Virginia Tech and North Carolina State University (NCSU) developed the advisory.
"The new advisory is the end product of several years of field validation work that followed several years of research," says Ames Herbert, Extension entomologist with Virginia Tech.
The SCR is the larvae of the spotted cucumber beetle. The beetles don't damage peanuts; it's the larvae that are the problem.
The larvae may feed on the roots of plants, but mostly on the pegs and pods. Often, the only signs of a rootworm infestation are the tiny holes they leave in the pods after feeding.
The SCR is slender, white to cream colored and reaches a length of .25 to .5 of an inch in length when mature. It has a wrinkled body with three pairs of legs. The head and the last segment of the body are dark brown to black.
NC 6 is a variety that provides good rootworm resistance and reduces the risk of pod damage. The variety, VA 98 R, is not as susceptible to rootworm attack during the peak pressure in July and early August.
Also, early planting reduces SCR risk because pods tend to mature before rootworm feeding.
The pest is more commonly found on heavier, poorly drained soils, says Mike Linker, professor of crop science and entomology and Integrated Pest Management Extension specialist at NCSU. However, if soil moisture is adequate, such as in irrigated areas, rootworms will infest almost any field.
Beginning in late July and continuing through August, the spotted cucumber beetle lays eggs in the field. Egg laying and egg survival depend on the soil being moist.
"We do not think spring weather has much effect on summer populations. The soil has plenty of time to dry out, if rainfall quits," Herbert says. "Soil moisture conditions during July through early September have more impact."
Researchers at Virginia Tech and NCSU conducted research on 436 commercial peanut fields over a span of 12 years. They found that the majority of fields do not need to be treated for SCR. This research led to the development of the SCR Advisory, as a way for growers to identify those fields not at risk for pod damage or economic loss from the SCR.
The SCR Advisory takes soil texture, drainage class, field history of rootworm damage, planting date and cultivar resistance into account. Each variable in the category is assigned a point value. For example, under the drainage class category of the advisory, growers are asked to select whether the soil in their field is well drained, moderately well drained, somewhat poorly drained or poorly drained. Each of these variables is given a score.
Growers fill out the entire advisory score sheet, and find their total score. Lower scores indicate less of a risk of rootworms. Higher scores indicate that the field is a high-risk field for the SCR.
And, the SCR Advisory works. Growers who followed the recommendations of the SCR Advisory were protected from economic damage 98.5 percent of the time.
Efforts to help growers use the Advisory have been stepped up this year by Extension agents and the Center for Agricultural Partnerships (CAP), a North Carolina-based organization.
Agents are providing educational materials that make it easy for growers to use the Advisory. CAP is also making posters and cards available to the agents for use in working with farmers to accurately identify what insects are actually damaging their crops.
"The SCR Advisory is our attempt to make sure the use of insecticides is efficient as possible," says Rick Brandenburg, professor of entomology at NCSU. "This helps make sure fields that need a treatment get treated, and those that probably won't be infested, don't get treated."
ARE YOUR PEANUTS AT RISK FROM SOUTHERN CORN ROOTWORM?
To use the Peanut
Southern Corn Rootworm Advisory, identify the variable under each major
heading that best describes your peanut field. Add the points to determine
a total score for that
ADVISORY TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
Score of 50 or less = Low-risk Field
Score Between 55 and 65 = Moderate-risk Field
Score of 70 or higher = High-risk Field