–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth
Some reports are being received mainly from south eastern/south central Kansas relative to “worms” feeding on early-planted wheat. First, it is usually better to plant wheat as late as possible to help avoid all wheat pests, whether pathogens or insects. The “worms” reported so far, have been either armyworms or fall armyworms, both of which will do about the same type of damage. They feed on leaf tissue and consume more, as they get larger, thus it is best to monitor wheat fields early to detect any larvae while they are still small. They usually do not reduce wheat stands, just remove the leaf tissue, but under stressful growing conditions plant stands may be impacted. Under good growing conditions, plants should be only temporarily affected. However, if there are 8-10 worms per sq. ft. and the worms are small, i.e., less than ½”, treatment may be justified. Remember also, if the leaf feeding continues into the winter it might be caused by army cutworms, which will feed all winter anytime temperatures are over 45 F, and into the spring. However, armyworms and fall armyworms will only feed until the 1st hard freeze, but not through the winter.