Food Plot Trouble: Wireworm & Cutworm (Episode 27 Transcript)
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WOODS: It’s Monday morning, May 24th and turkey season’s over in most of the United States. Now, a few northern states it’s still going on, but here in Missouri, it’s closed and we’re hearing a turkey gobble up on the ridge. That’s a great sign. Gives us a lot of hope for next year. I don’t have a lot of hope for this corn crop. You can see it’s very sporadic. And it’s not because we didn’t put enough seed in the drill. We have a pest here called wireworm. We’ve almost created perfect conditions for wireworm. Wireworm’s a little short pest, about an inch long. It’s a pupa stage of a beetle, a certain beetle, called a click beetle. And it loves a lot of organic matter. Well, we don’t disc. We don’t disturb the soil. We just no-till drill, so all the crops from past years fall over and then we use an organic fertilizer so we’re just building up organic matter on top of our rocks and that’s beautiful for earthworms and a lot of beneficial insects and crop roots and holding moisture, but there is one negative in that it’s a perfect bedroom for wireworm.
Wireworm eats a seed kernel before it germinates or eats the small roots off young corn stems and they just fall over and we’re left with about a third of standing corn, so we have to make a decision today. It’s very late in the corn planting season to spray and replant, hoping we’re past a wireworm prime season. We had corn seed that was treated at one level for wireworm or certain pests and now we have corn that is treated at a much higher level, so maybe we could plant that in and get it.
When we, when you treat a, a corn seed kernel, an earthworm, a beneficial insect crawling right by it is not impacted by that at all. But if a wireworm consumes that kernel of corn, it will kill that wireworm.
I see we’ve got about a third of a stand out here. It seems to me that if we plant, we probably have killed a lot of wireworm out. There obviously wasn’t enough left to eat up the rest of the seedlings, so maybe if we plant, we would get a good stand. Uh, we want to protect the beneficial insects and get rid of the insects that consume our seed. And that way, using a seed treatment versus just spraying and killing everything is a big difference and, and we want to limit the amount of pesticide we use, so we’re going to make that decision later today. Let’s go check out some other fields.
WOODS: When most hunters use the word “scouting”, you’re thinking about your Nikon binoculars out here, looking around, trying to find a critter or drive around looking for tracks, but scouting your fields is just as important. We’ve got to remember that plants are nutrient transfer agents and antlers are nutrients. Fawns are nutrients. So, we’re trying to grow nutrients here, and this is a field. We call it Boom Pond here at The Proving Grounds, except that we planted early, a month ago and the wireworm totally destroyed the corn. Brad just replanted Thursday. Today’s Monday. Brad replanted last Thursday and then it rained, actually, the rain drove him out of the field. So he didn’t get to finish planting that day.
We got good soil moisture and I’m gonna use my trusty screwdriver here to just go down a drill row. You can see the drill rows and here is a corn seed. I just got blessed and found it. And you can see that this baby is putting out roots, so from planted Thursday. Let’s say at lunch. So, Friday is a day, Saturday is a day, Sunday is a day. We’re three and a half days into it. Look at that. The temperature, the soil is warm. There’s adequate soil moisture and…we’re gonna; we’re having such trouble with corn this year, I don’t want to waste any, so we’re planting that one back. And what I want to do; that one’s there, is just go down a row. Now, of course at The Proving Grounds, you don’t dig with some little fancy soil probe some guys have, because that is a major rock.
WOODS: Now, here is a bad thing. Here. Here is a black cutworm. They come out usually at night. Right on the surface and cut your corn crop off. You come out the next morning and your little two or three inch tall stems will just be laying over. So, there’s not a seed treatment because it’s not eating the seeds. You need to spray an insecticide across the field. You know, generic crops, clovers, wheats, whatever, you can usually get away with. When you start getting into corn and beans and a little more technical crop, it, sometimes you plant them and just get a wonderful crop. Sometimes you, you gotta work a little bit. We’ve never had a problem with our beans. These Eagle Beans are just bowing out of the ground, they’re doing. Well show some of those. But, we’ll show you this little cutworm here. Now, he will die before we leave here.
WOODS: That’s not a broadhead, but did the same thing. Cutworms and coyotes are competing with something I want.
WOODS: Well, the good news of the morning is the beans are doing great. Now this is what we call “Big Boom.” It’s a brand new field. Just, just cleared the timber last fall. Last winter, actually. And you can see rocks everywhere. Doesn’t matter where you stick your screwdriver. Even where it looks like dirt, you get that clink of a rock. Just an inch or two below, so this was just brand new. Uh, we were just careful as we could not to displace top soil, but these old ridge tops historically, raw tomato fields. There’s just not much soil left. They’re eroded, gone. Grown up in trees. Just rock, rock, rock, so beans are so easy to grow, so generic, so tough.
Eagle Seed beans are bred just to be very vigorous, so we drill Eagle Seed beans in here and it’s not a perfect crop, but it’s a great crop for the first year. And they will build a bunch of nitrogen and do stuff in here, so we’ve got beans coming up. They’re four or five inches tall. You can see the rows clearly. Good crop. Healthy, good looking. See, and look at all these roots coming through. I mean these beans have just tremendous, tremendous root growth already. And a big nodule where it’s making nitrogen. Developing nitrogen. Beans, of course, take stuff out of the atmosphere and the dirt and develop their own nitrogen. That’s what’s called a legume or a fixer plant. A legume builds its own nitrogen. Now, we’ve just had one application this spring of Antler Dirt here, so, there is no organic matter built up yet. We haven’t mowed a crop down. Nothing’s laid here all winter and kind of broken down and rotted. Brand new crop and for these beans to be doing this. Cause look at that tremendous healthy root system. In good color. Antler Dirt is doing great and these Eagle Seed beans are doing wonderful, so there’s no doubt, you’ll be seeing some hunting episodes on Big Boom this year.
WOODS: We’re gonna kill everything out here and start from scratch. We’re gonna spray today and plant this afternoon and tomorrow. We’re spraying Gramoxone, just a surface killer; doesn’t do anything to the seeds, so it will be safe to drill right into it. So, we’ve made a painful decision. We’ve lost a month of time, but the wireworms are on top of us and we’ll be drilling this afternoon.
WOODS: Brad’s loading up the grain drill to go, to go replant corn, so we’re trying to get this seed in the ground before it rains. So, we’ve already planted corn if you’ve been following this at GrowingDeer. And wireworm ate that corn up. We’ve got a corn that’s treated with a higher level of insecticide. How that works is that earthworm, a very beneficial insect, crawling by it won’t be impacted by it at all. But a wireworm or pest trying to eat that kernel of corn. It’s actually a little bitty worm that bores into the seed and gets the carbohydrate or the germination out of the seed, that worm will die. So the tradeoff here is, if there’s 5,000 worms per acre and they all find a seed, we kill 5,000 worms. We still get a pretty good stand of corn because we’re gonna plant about 25, 26,000 seeds per acre. Uh, but if there’s a half a million worms per acre, and just, you know a tenth or 20%; each finds a kernel of corn, we’re doing all this for naught. Well, corn’s about $250 a bag for the good stuff, so we may just be growing the fattest wireworms in the Midwest or we may be getting a crop. You’re gonna have to stay tuned to see.
WOODS: That’s what we’re doing this week – May 24th at The Proving Grounds, actually Monday. It’s not all week long. That’s one day. What are you doing to be productive at your Proving Grounds this week?
See you next week.