Scout Corn for Three Early Season Pests

Scout for early season pests to protect yield potential.

When spring is cold and damp, young corn plants are stressed. Walking fields within a few weeks of emergence helps assess threats to vulnerable stands from the following early season pests:

Competitive Weeds

The critical time to prevent weed competition in corn is 3 to 6 weeks after planting, when corn is 6 to 8 inches tall. When planting happens late, weeds can get the jump on a young crop. Early, well-timed postemergence herbicide applications could be even more important this season. Consider a tank mix including DuPont Realm® Q herbicide to benefit from multiple modes of action, residual control and a built-in crop safener.

Seedling Blights

During a cool, slow germination period with soil temperatures below 55 F, seeds are more vulnerable to seedling blight pathogens, especially in high-residue fields. To scout for seedling blight, dig up stunted plants or not-yet germinated seeds, examining them for rot and shriveled mesocotyls.


Most early season damage is caused by cutworms, including black cutworm, which can feed on corn within a few weeks of emergence, even if seed was treated with insecticide. Dense insect populations can overwhelm insecticides applied at planting or Bt hybrids. If damage appears on 3 to 5 percent of plants, consider making an insecticide treatment.

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