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Dr. Gus Lorenz Talks 2019 Insect Challenges

Dr. Gus Lorenz, extension entomologist with the University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture, warns of migratory pests and the potential problems they bring to Arkansas soybean growers. Planting crops early is the best way to prevent red banded stink bugs and other pests; however, a wet Arkansas spring led to late planting.

“There are issues that we have to deal with, with late-planted crops,” Dr. Lorenz said. “That means our insect pressure is going to be worse.”

Southern winds from spring hurricanes brought problems as well, pushing migratory pests further north than normal. Red banded stink bugs have been seen as far as Pine Bluff and Stuttgart, and have quickly spread through the southern region of the state.

The red banded stink bug is typically discovered late, and they spread rapidly. The challenge with insecticides is keeping the growers’ profitability in mind, spraying only when necessary.

“Our concern is what the yield potential is, and how much we can afford to spray,” Dr. Lorenz said. “That concerns us particularly with the red banded situation developing.”

Bollworms, soybean loopers and even Arkansas native stink bugs are an issue too. For pests like this, one considerable treatment is the nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV,) a safe and nontoxic bio insecticide that poses little threat to growers’ profitability.

“We want to avoid unnecessary applications as much as possible,” Dr. Lorenz said.

Application of the NPV insecticide often times requires as little as one application, and its long-term effects work even after the pests are gone. NPV occurs naturally, another advantage of this particular treatment. It has a non-harmful effect on birds, pollinators and any other off-target animals. Additionally, at $5.00 per acre, it’s economical. It’s “good for everybody,” Dr. Lorenz said. The hope is to develop a similar treatment for red banded stink bugs.

Late planted crops present two challenges: lower yield potentials and higher insect pressure; so Dr. Lorenz recommends scouting often and treating only as needed to minimize expenses.

Join the conversation! Follow Dr. Lorenz on Twitter @guslor77 to stay updated on his efforts to combat the unwelcome pest and its devastating impact on Arkansas soybean growers.

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