Loopers Blow In On Prevailing Winds

By Carroll Smith

Soybean loopers blew in late in 2014, but whether they pose an economic threat this year will depend on how the wind blows.

Alan Blaine, with Southern Ag Consulting Inc. in Starkville, Miss., explains that soybean loopers don’t overwinter in the South. Instead, they move from Texas in a northeasterly pattern.

“Although loopers will make it to the East Coast, they are more of a traditional Southern pest than a Northern pest,” he says. “When folks in Louisiana tell us that they are picking up loopers, then we know that the pest is headed our way.”

In September 2014, Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service reported that soybean loopers were starting to show up in high numbers in many areas of the state. MSU noted that in many cases, soybeans were past the point where yield loss could occur, but there were many later planted soybeans that needed to be protected for a while longer.

Blaine says he has worked with Intrepid Edge insecticide and observed that it has good residual action, which is an important attribute against insect pests that might be rolling in a little later in the season.

“In my area, I have applied Intrepid Edge from as early as mid-pod fill to as late as when the leaves are beginning to turn. This all depends on numbers and potential pressure,” he says. “We typically see loopers toward the end of August, first of September.”

The Mississippi consultant points out that he has never sprayed a soybean looper in a Group 4 soybean planted before April 20. Never.

“If you plant beans early, then they mature and are done before the loopers get here,” Blaine says. “As you back the planting dates up, then the likelihood of having an issue with loopers is greater. The soybean looper is a voracious pest when we do get them in the field. They can show up in pretty big numbers in places, and it doesn’t take them long to eat up the leaves on the crop. For that reason, you’ve got to be watching for them.”

Fast Knockdown, Broad Spectrum
Drew Ellis, market development specialist for Dow AgroSciences, says growers may want to consider Intrepid Edge insecticide this season if they are looking for a product that targets cotton bollworm, soybean loopers and other foliage feeding pests like fall armyworm in soybeans.

“In some of our recent research, we’ve seen a high level of mortality within 24 hours of Intrepid Edge at labeled rates being applied,” Ellis says. “That means 70 percent of treated insects would be dead in one day. We’re hoping to provide growers with some peace of mind by offering Intrepid Edge, which provides fast knockdown, broad-spectrum activity, some residual and two unique modes of action that are proprietary to Dow AgroSciences and are not used in any other products that are currently on the market. Intrepid Edge has minimal impact on beneficial insects, which discourages flaring of unwanted pests. It’s a great rotational tool for resistance management.”

Ellis notes that once the crop has reached the reproductive stage – flowers and pod set – bollworms are attracted to these particular parts of the plant.

“We also usually see more foliage-feeders such as soybean loopers during the reproductive stage at the earliest (R1, R2 and R3) right up through R5 and R6 later in the season,” he adds. “For the last two to three years, we have observed that when the pests reach economic threshold, one application of 5 fluid ounces of Intrepid Edge typically holds them back.”

Ellis also concurs with Blaine’s observation that continuous flights of soybean loopers come in from the Gulf and migrate north. Because of this trend, the residual activity of Intrepid Edge becomes very important.

Keep A Lookout For Loopers
And, as everyone knows, in the Southern geography, some years are characterized by low bug pressure and in other years, growers have to deal with more intense bug pressure. With this thought in mind, frequent scouting is necessary to stay on top of insect pests that can quickly infiltrate soybean fields.

Always have a control plan in place and be ready to move on it if and when troublesome insects threaten potential yield and, ultimately, the grower’s bottom line.

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