As farmers wrap up harvest, many will be faced with questions about tillage and potentially cover crops. Reducing tillage and keeping the soil covered has been widely promoted for soil conservation and even climate change mitigation. But farmers that deploy these practices also need to be aware of pests that like to overwinter in this type of vegetation.
Here’s Alabama Cooperative Extension entomologist Scott Graham.
Graham… “That is one thing to consider: if you are planting a cover crop, particularly if you're planting into soybeans or cotton into those cover crops that can affect the different pests that you may see. You may have a little bit earlier pressure.”
Graham says he has seen grasshopper problems, particularly in areas of light, well-drained soil. He says if you’ve had problems with them in the past, you’ll want to manage it proactively in the spring.
Graham… “Cotton seed is not cheap. You know, planting is expensive. So we try to do what we can to preserve our stands, once we get a stand established. Controlling things like grasshoppers, or we even had true armyworms this year, which isn't a real common pest. And a lot of these are coming out of no-till fields or fields that had cover crops in them. So those are just some things to consider as we go into planting for next year.”
If you have any questions about overwintering pests in your area, make sure you speak to your local county extension agent.