Top 6 Threats to Your Crop This Summer

Friday, August 5, 2016
By: Kris Norwood, Crop Science, a Division of Bayer, Communications
Top Threats Facing Crops This Summer

This summer, farmers across the United States will be keeping a close eye on their crops in the field. What are some of the threats that are top of mind in 2016? We caught up with several Bayer agronomists and asked each to name one top concern from their area. Here’s what they had to say:


1. Battling nematodes


We spoke with one of our technical service representatives, Kelly Luff, who covers much of the Northwest; to get the scoop on how to make sure your potatoes are in prime condition.


This year, many potato growers are concerned about the shrinking portfolio of nematode management tools. While there has been a decrease in products and resources that many growers have relied on for their potato crops, there are other ways you can ensure you have a great growing season.


Kelly Luff covers southern Idaho and eastern Oregon for Bayer
Kelly Luff, pictured above with a potato plant, is the technical service representative for southern Idaho and eastern Oregon (commonly referred to as the ‘Snake River Plain’). He also covers Utah and Nevada.

“The next several years will provide a huge learning curve as we begin to integrate new management concepts and portfolios,” said Kelly. “It will also be an exciting time as we introduce new products and new ways to manage our potato crops.”


2. Insects in your sorghum


We also met with technical service representative, Greg Hudec to discuss sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum. Greg covers crop activities in Kansas, the northern half of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. Greg told us that, “Sugarcane aphids have recently become a top insect pest in grain sorghum. Aphids feed on the underside of sorghum leaves, damaging leaves and reducing yields. They also produce a sticky honeydew substance that can clog combines at harvest.”


Greg Hudec covers Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas for Bayer
Greg Hudec covers Kansas, the northern half of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle for Bayer.

If you’re stuck in a sticky situation this year, reach out to your local Bayer service representative to get some tips on how to combat sugarcane aphids.


Aphids covering a sorghum plant

3. Fire blight poses threat to apples


Bayer technical service representative Bill DeWeese told us how the fire blight disease is harming apples. Bill DeWeese covers Michigan, Ohio and western New York for Bayer.


Bill DeWeese covers Michigan, Ohio and western New York for Bayer
Bill DeWeese covers Michigan, Ohio and western New York for Bayer.

Fire blight is highly infectious and destructive. It is a disease that has fewer control options and threatens multiple types of apples.


Hot and humid weather conditions can increase fire blight infections and the spread can be devastating to an apple crop.


“These conditions can be present in all U.S. apple production, but are most predominate in warm humid regions,” said Bill. “Fire blight can be spread from diseased to healthy plants by rain, wind and pruning tools. Since fire blight is systemic, it may affect the whole tree”.  


In order to prevent against the disease, apple variety selection and production practices are a first line of defense. Growers that are tempted to grow the most popular apple varieties at a high volume are more likely to risk a fire blight infection. These growers are forced to do a fine balancing act between susceptible varieties and high production vs. fire blight risk management.


“The apple production areas in Michigan and western New York experienced the proper conditions for fire blight infection in the early season of 2016.  This began during bloom in apple in many areas and has continued into late June.  The risk of continued infection will diminish greatly by mid-July in most areas and in late July in more northern areas, but the remnants of crop injury and extended damage to the trees will be present and evident for seasons to come.”  


4. Corn and wet weather don’t go together


We also caught up with Matt Mahoney who is a technical service representative covering a large area from Virginia to Maine.


Matt Mahoney oversees the Northeast for Bayer
Matt Mahoney, technical service rep oversees the Northeast, covering Virginia to Maine.

Matt believes that the primary threat for this region this season is weather. The very wet spring and dry summer has impacted the efficacy of corn herbicides.


Matt told us, “Too much rain reduces the longevity of the pre-emergence barrier in the soil. Also, poor growing conditions (cool, wet) result in poor corns stands and slow growth which further reduces the effectiveness of the herbicide. In many cases here in the East, poor early season conditions resulted in farmers re-planting corn on ground that had already had herbicide application with the first planting.”


With re-application not being an option, the physical planting breaks the herbicide barrier. Since the original herbicide was sprayed several weeks earlier, the residual effects in the new crop are further reduced which causes problems for the corn crop.


5. Weeds, weeds, get away from my wheat!


In addition, we spoke with Kevin Thorsness who is a technical service rep for the North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota regions. Kevin told us about the increase in weed resistance in wheat and row crops.


Kevin Thorsness covers North Dakota and Minnesota for Bayer
Kevin Thorsness is a Technical Service Rep for Bayer, covering North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

The spread of resistant weeds and the lack of new methods of prevention is a huge threat to wheat crops. There are many grass and broadleaf weeds that are resistant to various means of prevention.


“We’re seeing stacked resistance, where a single weed can be resistant to two or more different herbicide groups,” said Kevin. “Even where this is not confirmed, we’re recommending that growers rotate crops, rotate herbicide-tolerant traits, and use multiple sites of action, so that weeds don’t develop resistance.”


Some of the resistant weeds in North Dakota include:


  • Wild Oat
    • Group 1 & 2 Resistance
      • Group 1 and 2 in wheat
      • Group 1 in broadleaf row crops
  • Green Foxtail
    • Group 1 & 3 Resistance
      • Group 1 & 3 in wheat
      • Group 1 & 3 in broadleaf row crops
  • Tall Waterhemp
    • Group 9 (glyphosate) and Group 2 Resistance
      • Group 9 primarily in RR crops
      • Group 2 could be in most crops
  • Kochia
    • Group 9, 4, and 2 Resistance
      • Group 9 in RR crops
      • Group 4 in corn and cereals
      • Group 2 in most crops
  • Common Ragweed
    • Group 9 Resistance
      • Group 9 in RR crops

6. Palmer Amaranth resisting herbicides


Bayer technical service representative Sam Garris gave us the 411 on glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth. This year alone, glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth has infested many acres in Louisiana and Mississippi.


Sam Garris covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas for Bayer
Sam Garris covers Louisiana, Mississippi and southeast Arkansas for Bayer.

The weed competes with crops for sunlight, nutrients, and water. It can also grow an inch per day and is capable of producing hundreds of thousands of seeds. These unfavorable characteristics can make the Palmer amaranth a serious problem for farmers.


“With the wet weather earlier in the growing season, growers have seen dense populations of Palmer amaranth emerge in their fields,” said Sam. “Adverse environmental conditions have been a challenge this year for growers to make timely herbicide applications to control this aggressively growing weed.”


glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth

The best control of Palmer amaranth with herbicides is achieved when the plants are small (1-3 inches). Management practices for Palmer amaranth require the use of effective post-emergence herbicides along with overlapping residual herbicides to prevent new emergence. Growers have been rapidly adopting the use of new products and technologies to battle Palmer amaranth.


Bayer has recently launched a new portfolio of products to help with some of these issues. Visit cropscience.bayer.us to see a whole list of these new products.


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