Monday, June 15, 2015

Corn Seedlings Hit the Ground

Don't think it's smooth sailing just because the corn seed has germinated and is up and growing.  Young seedlings are often found toppled over. There are three possible culprits for this dilemma.

The two most common offenders are birds and rats. Netting will help to exclude the birds and maybe a scarecrow, too.  Rats will come at night and nibble on the succulent seedlings. Bait or trapping is the solution for rats.

There are also some caterpillars like cutworms, that at night will feed on the seedlings, cutting off the stem at ground level. The plant is not consumed but damaged enough to cause the seedling to topple.

Removing old crop residue and surrounding weeds will reduce the cutworm population. Worms can be hand-picked from the ground at night. Spraying the seedlings and the ground with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), an organic pesticide,  may also help.

Photos: University of Minnesota Extension