June 17, 2012

Farm briefs: June 17, 2012


---- — Armyworms invade parts of New York

ALBANY— New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine has warned crop growers of the presence of armyworms in several parts of New York State, including western and northern New York counties. The department has received numerous reports from farmers and the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program that have verified that true armyworms have severely impacted parts of New York State, especially in western New York counties. Additional reports have established the presence of armyworms in Northern New York, the Finger Lakes and Eastern New York.

New York’s last significant infestation was in 2008 and prior to that 2001. By some accounts, this year’s infestation is surpassing those experiences. The moth overwinters in the south and in some years, flies up to New York laying eggs that hatch into worm-like caterpillars. It is a migratory pest and the unusual spring weather may be responsible, at least in part, for this infestation.

Homeowners and farmers are encouraged to watch grass and corn fields for signs of infestation. Close monitoring is important if this pest is found. According to New York State IPM Livestock & Field Crops IPM Coordinator, Keith Waldron, a second generation can be expected and may result in further damage in July.

Armyworms got their name because they can move in a mass, marching in lines from one destroyed field to their next feeding ground. They have been found in New York in small grains, corn, mixed stands of alfalfa, turf grass, grass and hay fields, but have been known to also infest various vegetables, fruits, legumes, and weeds, including beans, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, onions and peas.

In their early stages, armyworm larvae appear smooth, cylindrical in shape and are pale green to brownish. Mature larvae are smooth and marked with two orange, white-bordered strips on each side. True armyworm ranges in size from 1/8 inch to 1.5 inches long and overwinter as partly grown larvae.

Preferring to feed at night, armyworms devour succulent foliage. By feeding on leaves and occasionally stems, they can severely damage seedling stands. Because they feed at night, armyworms may inflict much injury before they are detected. Having exhausted a current food supply, the worms migrate as an “army” to new host plants. Fields adjacent to or harboring lush grass are most commonly attacked.

Parasites, various diseases, insect predators, and birds usually keep armyworms under control except after cold, wet springs. When practical, cultural methods, such as disking large areas, can help reduce future armyworm populations by exposing the pupae to natural enemies and hot weather. However, since armyworm moths are strong fliers, most areas will be subject to constant reinfestation.

Armyworms are easily controlled chemically when buildup occurs, but to be consistent with state law, it is important that both the armyworm pest and the specific crop be labeled on the insecticide before using the product. Monitoring is important prior to spraying as treatment should be sought only when pest levels would cause economic damage.

For more information, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension agent (

FFA tractor driver contestants may pre-register

SENACA FALLS — FFA students interested in testing their tractor driving skills at Empire Farm Days may pre-register or walk up for the contest at the Northeast’s largest agricultural trade show. Empire Farm Days runs Aug. 7-9 at Empire Farm Days at the Rodman Lott & Son Farms in Seneca Falls. The contest for FFA students in good standing will be held Thursday, Aug. 9, with registration at 9 am; competition commencing at 9:30 am.

Pre-registration for the contest is appreciated and can be emailed to contest co-coordinator Jon Clayson at 

Students may also register by walk-up at the contest area on the showgrounds’ east side. Entrants must wear their FFA t-shirt.

“This competition helps students test how well they have learned safe tractor operation and driving skills. A strong performance at the Empire Farm Days event is something they can add to their resumes in pursuit of an agricultural career,” Clayson said.

Preparing for the annual competition teaches students the importance of learning and using safe farm equipment operating skills. Students must complete a written safety exam, a parts-identification task and driving courses with a tractor, two-wheel wagon and four-wheel wagon. The winner will compete at the Eastern Exposition in Springfield, MA in September.

Contest sponsors include John Deere, Kubota, H&S Farm Equipment, New Holland Case International, the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, Larry Romance and Son; and Lamb and Webster.

The 300-acre Empire Farms D

ays includes GPS-equipped and compact tractor, ATV and Heavy Duty RAM Truck test drives; DairyProfit and Equine Center seminars; live animals; farm safety and family life displays; and 600-plus representatives of agricultural institutions and organizations.