Is fresh market sweet corn in reduced-till systems at greater risk to lepidoptera pests?

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2012: $14,995.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Teresa Rusinek
Cornell Cooperative Extension Of Ulster County

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: sweet corn


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, workshop
  • Pest Management: cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, traps
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    Fresh Market sweet corn is an economically important crop to Northeast growers. In order to remain sustainable growers must balance inputs and outputs in their favor, while doing least harm to the environment. Reduced tillage in sweet corn production is one practice that has moved growers in the direction of sustainability. Reduced tillage has been adopted with much success on thousands of acres of sweet corn; however, questions have been raised about its impact on pest pressure. Growers suspect reduced tillage increases populations of Lepidoptera pests such as European corn borer. There is reason for concern as reduced tillage growers are not completely turning under crop residue by deep disking or mold board plowing fields, which may lead to Lepidoptera pests successfully overwintering in those fields. Growers and extension field staff have observed these pests occurring in greater numbers and earlier in the spring. If reduced tillage systems are adversely influencing pest populations, growers may be required to make additional compulsory insecticide applications to maintain economically viable yield. This would reduce the savings and environmental benefits usually gained from reduced tillage systems. This project will investigate and compare four Lepidoptera populations among three geographically diverse farms employing various reduced and conventional tillage techniques to determine the influence of tillage on the pest complex. The results will help farmers ‘optimize’ pest and soil management decisions. Outreach will be accomplished through twilight meetings, articles in grower newsletters and presentations at state vegetable conferences.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1)Determine if ECB, CEW and cutworms overwinter in the field using trapping studies.

    2)Determine the survivability of the overwintering population as a result of reduced tillage, through trapping studies.

    3)Compare populations in reduced tillage fields to those in conventional tillage fields, which employ either double disking or single disking of corn stubble into the soil.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.