Agricultural News: Home Garden Cover Crop Workshop

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   Cover crops provide many benefits for both in-ground and raised bed gardens, including better soil quality, improved pest management, and reduced erosion, nitrogen leaching, and run-off. Some are even great food sources for our pollinators! 

  On September 16th at 6pm, we will be having a Cover Crop workshop with our neighbors in Lawrence County at the West End Community Center in Lawrenceburg, TN. We will learn about the benefits and how to establish and use cover crops effectively in our gardens.

   Please pre-register to attend by September 9th by calling our office at 931-722-3229 or e-mailing Megan Harris at mdharris@utk.edu. I hope you will make plans to join us! 

Fall Armyworms—They are Everywhere…

and May Appear Again?

   Fall Armyworms have made their second march through our area and seems to be the most devastating for our producers and homeowners. In years past, Fall Armyworms were contained primarily to soybeans, sorghum-sudan grass, and bermudagrass pastures and lawns. This year, though, they arrived early. The first round was typical in regards to their location—mostly contained to bermudagrass and sorghum-sudan grass. What was not typical was the number of armyworms, how early they arrived, and the resistance found to our normal treatment methods. 

   The second round is not very typical. We are finding them in mixed grass pastures, hay grounds, and home gardens, too. The heavy rainfalls really stimulated new grass growth, which aided in a bounty of ideal forage for the Fall Armyworms to eat.

   To make matters worse, products in the pyrethroid (permethrin) class are not working effectively, which is what has been used most commonly in the past. This could be due to an actual genetic resistance within the population or because it was applied when the worms were too big. Products containing the active ingredient chlorantraniliprole, methoxyfenozide, or spinosad are good alternatives, though many are expensive and hard to find in the stores currently. For homeowners, carbaryl products are an option. (Note: many insecticide have grazing or hay restrictions.  It is up to the producer/homeowner to read the label thoroughly and follow all instructions).

   If you have cattle and find them in your pastures, you can intensively graze your livestock on the infested areas.  The grazing and trampling will help slow their progression, but it will not eliminate them.    For hay producers, if you’re close enough to harvest, it would be best for you to harvest your hay.

   Likely by the time you read this article, the damage from the second wave of will be done. However, given how early they arrived, there is still a chance that we can see a third round. They are much easier to control when we find them early, so be sure to scout your crops, pastures, and lawns.

   Homeowners and forage producers should be cautious about seeding grasses this fall.  If you do so, you would be wise to scout daily for signs of Fall Armyworm moths, egg masses, and caterpillars and be prepared to make applications to the caterpillars if necessary.  The recommended treatment threshold is 3+ caterpillars per square foot of forage.  For soybeans, the treatment threshold is 10-15 caterpillars per 25 sweeps or 15-20% defoliation.

   The one good piece of news is most stands of perennial grasses should rebound just fine. My only worry would be for the recently seeded or sodded pastures and lawns that have not had the time to establish a good root system.

   If you have questions about control of Fall Armyworms, please contact our office at 931-722-3229 or e-mail mdharris@utk.edu.