“We are seeing fall armyworms wiping out hayfields across south Georgia and marching north,” warns Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist.
Many fields, because of rainy weather, hadn’t had first-cut hay harvested, he says. “By now, we would typically have made the second cutting or even third in far-south Georgia.
“The problem that this poses is that getting the insecticide to penetrate into such a thick biomass is nigh impossible. Plus, many areas have been taken over by tall-growing weeds (johnsongrass, vaseygrass, etc.), which will pose major problems, as the spray booms are unlikely to clear many of those patches.
Growers report that fields have been stripped with only stems remaining. It’s temping to leave the stems, Hancock says.
But “this is a bad idea. First, even if the fields have been stripped of leaves, the stems remaining will still be too much biomass to leave in the field. This residue will severely reduce bermudagrass productivity. Bermudagrass does not tolerate shade and will not grow well through such residue. Even if it did grow through it, all those mature and defoliated stems would severely reduce the quality of the resulting harvest.”
The only option is to cut and bale off or remove the stripped stems, he adds. “The quality of this will be extremely poor, but it would be necessary to get it off the field to protect the next cutting.”
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