MISSOURI — The growing season is right around the corner, so experts are reminding farmers about invasive species that can cause issues.
Why should farmers be concerned?
These species can destroy whole crop fields, but the good news is that there are ways to eliminate this problem.
Robert Balek, University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Field Specialist, said, “If we know that these pests are coming, we can manage our crops appropriately.”
The state of Missouri has several invasive species that can cause trouble for farmers and gardeners.
Japanese Beetles are common in the show-me-state, but specialists are also watching for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and the Spotted Lanternfly, to arrive soon.
“Those two pests are devastating to crops. They have piercing sucking mouth parts that suck the juices out of corn, soybeans, those types of plants, as well as your garden plants, and they travel in large groups.”
These pests stick to semi trucks and other large vehicles and can travel for hundreds of miles.
Many trucking companies across the nation are even training drivers to look for these clumps.
And, with Southwest Missouri located along I-44 and I-49, the arrival of the stink bug and lanternfly, could be here faster than we think.
So, active methods of controlling these pests are recommended, including planting trap crops and using containers lined with pheromones.
“One of the most interesting trap crop is the sunflower, which is used against the Dectes Stem Borer in soybeans. That’s a problem in the Bootheel part of the state and may be moving this way as weather conditions change. Lining the perimeter of the soybean fields and corn fields with these containers during certain times of the season to trap the Japanese Beetles and save the crop.”
And weather can play a factor in determining the population of a certain species.
“When we have drought conditions, there’s a decrease in the population of Japanese Beetles the following year. When there’s moist conditions, like we’ve been having recently, there’ll be an increase in Japanese Beetle populations.”
The University of Missouri Extension will provide crop scouting updates via phone call to inform producers of pest threats.
It’s a weekly two minute message from March through October that provides information on where pests are found any damage associated with them.
These updates will cost farmers $35, if they sign up by Friday, February 14th.
The cost will then increase to $40.
Anyone can just contact their local extension office to get signed up.