Worms in Wheat

Worms in Wheat

It has been a "wormy" summer, going into what may be a "wormy" fall.  Early planted wheat should be monitored closely for worm damage. There have been reports of worms in new wheat in southern north central Oklahoma. As of this posting I have yet to walk a field of new wheat with this problem in our area, but I expect I will.  If you planted your wheat into moisture it should come up in 5 to 7 days with these kind of soil temperatures, so if it is not showing up on time, or coming up in patches you better check it for worms.

More than likely it will not be the same worm(s) that have been in the soybeans, although it could be.  The more likely culprit (but not limited to) will be the fall armyworm.  This worm will also defoliate alfalfa, and your bermuda grass pastures and lawns. Usually the small wheat plant can take a certain amount of "grazing" and still recover, unless it is under a stress such as lack of moisture. If the small seedling is cut off, or window paned, often enough it will quickly run out of energy, die and the field will normally have to be resown. 

The economic threshold is when 25 to 30 % of the plants have window paning on the leaves.  As these worms grow their destruction capabilities grow exponentially causing about 300 times more damage at maturity than as a new hatch. There are many insecticides that can control these worms.

  Fall armyworm, notice the inverted Y on the head of the worm.

 

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