Be on the lookout for Black Cutworm damage in your corn. That is what farmers hear every year at this time of the year. Most farmers, myself included have never seen Black Cutworm damage. However, because a lot of corn was planted later than normal this may be the year! The University of Minnesota Extension Service has traps that capture Black Cutworm moths every spring. This information can be used to predict the potential severity of Black Cutworm damage. Many more moths than normal have been captured this spring!

Black Cutworms cannot survive Minnesota winters. Every spring the moths migrate into Minnesota on southerly winds. The moths lay eggs in low-lying and weedy areas even before the corn is planted. The larvae can cut off small corn plants right at the soil surface. The timing is right for cutworm damage this year because much of the corn is smaller than normal and coincides with when the larvae will emerge.

High risk fields that Black Cutworms moths are attracted to include areas with crop debris, sheltered and low areas, early season weed growth, and untilled fields. Overwintering cover crops may also attract Black Cutworm moths. So, scout these fields or parts of fields first. The larvae are not very mobile but they can wipe out an area of a field if not treated.

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