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Lexington, KY 40546

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Number 1319
CORN - More on Aflatoxin in Corn SOYBEAN/WHEAT/GRASS FORAGES - Fall Armyworm Moth Counts Continue to Climb!

September 18, 2012

CORN More on Aflatoxin in Corn By Paul Vincelli, UK Extension Plant Pathologist Aflatoxin is on the “radar” of corn producers in Kentucky and elsewhere. Reports from county Extension agents indicate that the incidence of contamination appears to be low thus far, although occasional rejections from buyers always get the attention of producers. In addition to aflatoxin, fumonisin may show up in occasional corn lots, though I have heard of no reports yet. Scouting non-harvested corn fields for Aspergillus ear rot and Fusarium ear rot is advisable. Scouting information, including numerous photos, is available at: nsion/KPN%20Site%20Files/pdf/KPN1315.pdf. Scouting helps flag fields with potential problems. Knowing that the field has Aspergillus ear rot may help a producer decide whether or not to test the grain for aflatoxin, and/or whether to market/use the crop as feed for sensitive animals (see ID-59, at, for information on animal sensitivities). Some producers have asked whether they should be testing their corn for mycotoxins. Available testing kits (such as are good

tools. However, I don’t think widespread testing by producers is necessary or advisable. One reason is simply the expense of testing. However, a much more important reason is variation in sampling. In a corn field with aflatoxin contamination, the results of testing are really driven primarily by the high level of sampling variability that is natural when testing at the partsper-billion level. What this means is that, even if a grower samples the corn with the recommended sampling procedure (which is very difficult in standing corn), s/he will get ten different results from ten well-collected samples. See Table 1 of ID-59 to understand this better. This sampling variability is inherent in sampling grain at the parts-per-billion level. This extreme variability isn’t anything growers can avoid. Testing would probably make the most sense for sensitive end-uses, like dairy cows and chickens (see ID-59, Table 2). But scouting for ear rots is free, and it can help flag potentially problematic fields. Scouting isn’t foolproof, since grain can become contaminated with aflatoxin without showing rot, but generally it is helpful to scout. Another issue regarding aflatoxin is this: Consider all harvested corn stored as grain to be “inoculated” with Aspergillus flavus, the fungus that produces aflatoxin. I don’t mean that the corn is contaminated with the toxin itself. What I am saying is that the microscopic spores of A. flavus could be there on the kernels, waiting for the chance to grow on the harvested grain. It is always important to store grain properly, but

maybe just a little more so this year. It is very possible for clean-looking corn to go into the bin with no aflatoxin, and to emerge from the bin with aflatoxin. It is very important to pay attention to sound storage practices, in order to keep that from happening. See the article by Sam McNeill in on/KPN%20Site%20Files/pdf/KPN1315.pdf.

then the peak will be approximately two weeks earlier than we would normally expect. Putting this in perspective, if we have an average frost date of Oct 22nd , this flight has approximately 5 ½ weeks for the caterpillars to develop and feed on our crops as opposed to a more normal 3 weeks. If frost is late this interval could be even longer. Remember, the graph above represents MOTH flight. Moths are not the damaging stage of this insect. These moths were captured because they were seeking female mates. Once mating and egg lay has occurred, we will begin to see very small FAW caterpillars. This is the beginning of the damaging stage. This will likely take a week, perhaps two, depending on temperatures. Of course, further south and west (toward the upper Mississippi River bottoms) caterpillars will appear sooner. Further north and east (in the western 1/3rd of KY), caterpillars will take longer to appear. Fortunately, the traps in Lexington have just this week captured FAW for the 1st time this year; and the numbers are small. I doubt that there is any unusual risk in central and eastern portions of our field crop / pasture-hay production area. Remember, as well, that these trap counts will NOT predict what will happen in an individual field. There is really no easy way to detect the presence of this pest. One must go to the field and look for their presence / activity. I would start by sweeping in grasses that have received enough rainfall to start re-growth. This will be a preferred egg laying location. FAW will lay eggs in soybeans, but they are not the preferred host. If this generation acts like the last, most soybean infestations will start with worms moving from grass waterways, roadsides & pasture/hay fields. Crops primarily at risk will be newly planted wheat, pasture / hay production and very late maturing soybeans.

SOYBEAN/WHEAT/GRASS FORAGES Fall Armyworm Moth Counts Continue to Climb! By Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist Capture of fall armyworm (FAW) moths has increased for the second week in a row, and this week by a huge margin (Figure 1.). Not only has an unprecedented second distinct FAW flight begun, it has surpassed this year’s previous peak in size. The August flight which reached 549 moths / trap-week for the trap-week ending Thur., Aug 16th, now stands at 675 moths / trap-week for trap-week ending Sept 13, 2012. Will it go higher? Only time will tell.

Figure 1. Fall Armyworm Moth Flights at Princeton, KY during 2012.

In addition to the numbers of FAW moths being captured, there is a second situation that gives me pause. This 2nd flight peak will be earlier in the season than we normally see , if one occurs. If the current numbers turn out to be the largest capture,

There is really only one thing that can bring this cycle to a halt….cold weather. FAW is a tropical insect that cannot overwinter in KY. In fact, under historic conditions, FAW cannot overwinter outside the gulf coast areas. So, vigilance will be needed until a hard frost stops their northward migration. Certainly, this is not the year for early planting of wheat.

Also, see Kentucky Pest News No. 1318, Sept. 11, 2012 at: xtension/kpn/current.html and the Wheat Science News Vol.16, No.5, Sept. 7, 2012 at: for the article: “The Effect of Insects on Wheat Planting Decisions” for a more complete look at FAW and other arthropod pests on our upcoming wheat planting season.

4). Earliest symptoms include leaf spots, but these spots often go unnoticed unless a persistent scouting program is in place (Figure 5). Roots are not affected. Avoid unhealthy plants at all costs. Homeowners should examine plants carefully before purchase, avoiding plants with leaf or stem lesions or an unhealthy appearance. Growers should carefully inspect incoming plants and liners before introducing them into production areas. Cultural practices can help prevent conditions that are conducive for the fungal pathogen. Space plants for air circulation and rapid drying of foliage. Overhead irrigation should be avoided. Fungicides are not available for management of boxwood blight. Infected plants must be destroyed by burning or burying. Report suspected cases of boxwood blight immediately to your local Extension agent or specialist or to the UK Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab.

ORNAMENTALS Boxwood Blight By Nicole Ward, UK Extension Plant Pathologist This weekend, the local Lexington newspaper, the Herald Leader, published a story on boxwood and boxwood blight. Thus, I anticipate an influx of suspect samples and concerns. Also, as weather becomes cooler and more rain is upon us, it is possible that the disease may appear in Kentucky this fall. Below is a refresher on this devastating disease: Boxwood blight (Cylindrocladium buxicola) was reported in southern Ohio this spring, but has yet to be found in Kentucky. Nursery growers in the northern counties are especially concerned about movement of the disease across state lines. Symptoms of boxwood blight are different from some of the most commonly observed boxwood problems. For example, stem blight and drought damage result in foliage turning bright bronze or straw-colored while remaining intact. Boxwood blight, in contrast, results in rapid defoliation of plants (Figure 2 & 3). Another distinguishing symptom of boxwood blight is brown stem lesions that are easily recognized after leaf drop (Figure

Figure 2. Boxwood blight is most easily recognized by leaf drop. Photos by Kelly Ivors, NC State.

Figure 3. Boxwood blight is most easily recognized by leaf drop. Photos by Kelly Ivors, NC State.

On ornamentals and turf, we have seen rosette on rose; bacterial leaf scorch on oak; Cercosporella leaf spot on mulberry; brown patch on fescue; Curvularia leaf spot on ryegrass; and slime mold on mixed lawn turf.

Figure 4. Brown stem lesions, a distinguishing characteristic of boxwood blight, are often noticed after leaf drop. Photo by Kelly Ivors, NC State.

INSECT TRAP COUNTS September 7-13, 2012 Insect Trap Counts 9/13/2012 Princeton True Armyworm 7 Corn Earworm 407 Fall Armyworm 675 Black Cutworm 3 Southwestern 15 Corn Borer European Corn 2 Borer

Lexington 0 45 7 0 0 0

Figure 5. Leaf spots, the earliest symptoms of boxwood blight, can be detected by scouting. Photo by Kelly Ivors, NC State.

Graphs of insect trap counts for the 2012 season are available on the IPM web site at View trap counts for Fulton County, Kentucky at

DIAGNOSTIC LAB HIGHLIGHTS by Julie Beale and Paul Bachi During the past week we have diagnosed anthracnose, charcoal rot, frogeye leaf spot, brown spot and tobacco ringspot virus on soybean; and black shank on tobacco. On fruit and vegetable samples, we have diagnosed black root rot complex (Rhizoctonia and Pythium) on strawberry; Ascochyta leaf spot on rhubarb; bitter rot and frogeye leaf spot on apple; downy mildew and Alternaria leaf blight on cucumber; powdery mildew, Cercospora leaf spot and Plectosporium blight on pumpkin.

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