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When no-till corn growers are asked about what kind of insect pressures they are facing, it seems like they are never at a loss for words.
One plaguing pest is corn rootworm, which is capable of destroying an entire no-till corn stand within just a few weeks. In fact, a number of no-tillers in eastern areas of the Corn Belt are seeing rootworms reach epidemically high proportions, while growers in surrounding areas watch the pressure grow steadily each year.
But if that were the only problem, no-tillers outside the areas would be safe. Yet today’s no-tillers deal with a wide range of secondary pests that can prove just as devastating to their no-till corn corp — cutworms, white grubs, wireworms and seed corn maggots, to name just a few.
Faced with these pressures, more no-tillers are finding that insecticide use is no longer optional — it’s a must. Cain Farms of Darlington, Ind., knows this firsthand The farm is committed to no-tilling, despite the difficult insect pressures that are found in that area of Indiana.
“The difference between us and our conventional-till neighbors is that we don’t spray for insects,” says Terry Cain, who farms with his brother and sons. “If we were to spray, we’d kill everything that is making no-till work. We made the mistake of trying to rescue a field from cutworms about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, it took us more than 4 years before our earthworm population made a full comeback.”