Corn growers need to be on top of crop protection this year in order to make the most of a tough season.
Wet weather delayed planting of various feed crops across the province this year by two to three weeks. Growers of forage corn have been particularly affected, with plantings in the Cariboo described as “very behind,” meaning crops may not fully mature, and those in the Fraser Valley facing the risk of above-average pest issues.
“One of the things we’ve learned is early planting helps to defeat things like wireworm, rootworm,” says Alexis Arthur, co-owner of Pacific Forage in Delta. “Well, everything’s been so late. Now when the pests come into play, there’s a larger potential for them to do damage.”
This is because the root systems of the plants are aren’t as well established. The damage occurs at a time when the plants don’t have a head start on their opponents, and this crimps their growth for the rest of the season.
This will be a particular concern this year because forage corn already faces a shorter growing season. This means less time to develop the nutrient profile farmers are looking for, and lower-quality grain.
To give them a fighting chance, Arthur urges growers to be on top of scouting for the signs of infestation.
“Wireworm are out now,” she says. “We really have to be scouting for the trouble guys – the wireworm and the rootworm. We have to be looking to see that what we put in is healthy.”
She recommends that farmers be more aggressive with pest control this year to ensure that crops face as few barriers as possible.
“There should be more herbicide, for those who use it, going out this year than regular,” she says. “We’ve got to help [with] those products in way that we can to try and get to the finish line, so that [the crops] aren’t competing with other things.”