“That field looked fine when I drove by it Wednesday afternoon, but when I came back to cut it on Saturday it was nothing but stems!”
Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is the most damaging insect pest of bermudagrass hayfields. These caterpillars can destroy an entire cutting of hay in just a couple of days. The reason for this rapid crop loss is that the caterpillars do 80 to 90% of their feeding in the last two to three days of their life. During the summer months, fall armyworms remain in the caterpillar stage for around 10 to 14 days, but young caterpillars eat very little, and their damage is easy to overlook.
By the time they are ¾ to 1 inch long, fall armyworm caterpillars are leaf-eating machines that rapidly consume large amounts of leaf area. Multiply the leaf consumption of a single caterpillar by the hundreds of thousands of caterpillars per acre that occur during heavy outbreaks, and it is easy to understand how fall armyworms can cause such rapid defoliation. This is why experienced cattlemen and hay producers learn to scout their fields every two to three days during periods when fall armyworms are a threat and to have their spray equipment ready to go.
See Extension Publication 2717, Fall Armyworms in Hayfields and Pastures for fall armyworm treatment recommendations and information on fall armyworm biology and how to best protect bermudagrass hayfields from this damaging pest.
A long, cool spring put Mississippi hay production about two weeks behind schedule, but a long, hot summer can give producers the chance to catch up.
Rocky Lemus, Mississippi State University Extension Service forage specialist, said he expects a good year for forages.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- While many humans anticipate making certain changes with the arrival of a new year, certain insects have much different life cycles.
Periodical cicadas may anticipate emerging from the ground in 2016, while others may simply have to wait a few more years to see the light of day.
Cicadas are curious creatures. From beady eyes on the sides of their heads to prominent veins stretching across their glassy wings, they seem to be created from the Twilight Zone. Yet, they produce one the most common sounds of summer.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Southern farmers may never win the battle against imported fire ants, but aggressive tactics can slow the pests’ invasion, reduce damage and prevent further spread across the United States.
Jane Parish is an Extension/research professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. She said cattle and hay producers have learned to live with and work around the troublesome ants since the pests arrived in the state almost a century ago.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- People have many misconceptions on how to eliminate fire ant mounds and prevent them from coming back, and these erroneous beliefs hinder efforts to keep the harmful pest from spreading.
JACKSON -- Turf and forage producers in Mississippi need fewer clouds and more sunshine.
In 2014, forage producers raised an estimated 600,000 acres of hay across the state. There are about 60 farms producing sod for sale in the state.
The unusually harsh winter melted into a cool, wet spring and summer, which slowed spring growth and intensified diseases and last fall’s herbicide injury in sod, said Jay McCurdy, turf grass specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.