The primary Lepidoptera pests of sweet corn (Zea mays L. convar. saccharata) in Georgia are the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith). Management of these pests typically requires multiple insecticide applications from first silking until harvest, with commercial growers frequently spraying daily. This level of insecticide use presents problems for small growers, particularly for “pick-your-own” operations. Injection of oil into the corn ear silk channel 5–8 days after silking initiation has been used to suppress damage by these insects. Initial work with this technique in Georgia provided poor results. Subsequently, a series of experiments was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of silk channel injections as an application methodology for insecticides. A single application of synthetic insecticide, at greatly reduced per acre rates compared with common foliar applications, provided excellent control of Lepidoptera insects attacking the ear tip and suppressed damage by sap beetles (Nitidulidae). While this methodology is labor-intensive, it requires a single application of insecticide at reduced rates applied ∼2wk prior to harvest, compared with potential daily applications at full rates up to the day of harvest with foliar insecticide applications. This methodology is not likely to eliminate the need for foliar applications because of other insect pests which do not enter through the silk channel or are not affected by the specific selective insecticide used in the silk channel injection, but would greatly reduce the number of applications required. This methodology may prove particularly useful for small acreage growers.
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Vol. 108 • No. 4