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Beware of the Fall Armyworm

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We have had excellent growing conditions so our pastures and hayfields appear to be doing well. There is one threat that we need to be on the lookout for this fall until we have a frost. Fall Armyworm is making an appearance in Western Kentucky and UK’s specialists are concerned it could make its way further east than normal this year. The Fall Armyworm is a caterpillar for the Spodoptera frugiperda moth, which is a tropical pest that migrates to Kentucky and points north annually. It does not overwinter in Kentucky. There are two overwintering populations, one in Florida and one in south Texas. The Fall Armyworms in Kentucky come from Texas. There are two strains, one that prefers corn and grain sorghum, the “Corn Strain” and one that prefers small grasses, the “Grass Strain.”
The grass strain seems to be predominant this year. For Kentucky this year newly planted wheat and newly seeded pasture, hayfields and lawns are at the greatest risk. Fall Army Worm acts just like any grazing animal, eating what it can and moving on. It may or may not kill the grass so reseeding may be necessary. Be particularly sure before reseeding wheat as reseeding into a crop that is growing may result in a double stand that may cause problems.
Existing stands of pasture and hay or lawns are not as susceptible as new stands but could be damaged and stockpiled forage removed. Check fields regularly so that if there are infestations you will not be surprised when you turn livestock in and have little for them to feed on. Late maturing soybeans can also be infested. Soybeans are not the preferred host, but the caterpillars will feed on the plants in the absence of other suitable hosts.
Insecticides are available to control Fall Armyworm. Let us know at the extension office if you think you have Fall Armyworm as UK would like to track the progression of the pest. They can also advise a spraying program for severe infestations.
The Marion County Cattlemen’s Association will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 20, at Floral Hall. Final details of the Cattlemen’s bus trip will be discussed and signups for Ham Days will be taken.
The Master Stocker series of classes started last week and the next class will be at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Nelson County Extension office. For those with an interest in stocker cattle, the Kentucky Stocker Conference will be held at the Fayette County Extension Office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1. Call us at the office if you wish to attend so we can give them a head count. Registration is $10, which includes lunch.
A reminder again that UK will have their Beef Bash at the Princeton Research Farm on Sept. 27. Demonstrations and educational exhibits will include beef cutting, animal composting, cattle age determination, pasture weed control, feeding after drought, genomics in selection and management, grazing wheat, MAG 60 marketing/pre-conditioning, managing around fescue endophyte, nutrigenomics research, reducing hay loss with feeding structures, simplified ration balancing and trailer safety. Participants may also go on a forages tour and learn about sampling, testing and feeding. Call the extension office if you are interested in attending. If there are enough people interested we can travel as a group.
This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week. Take time to review safety information with your employees and in particular younger children and teenagers working on the farm. Be safe!

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