Managing Stink Bugs in Corn

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Stink bug numbers have been relatively low in corn across the state, but that may change during the remainder of June. Stink bugs tend to colonize corn slowly, with numbers peaking around tasseling. Unfortunately, corn is most susceptible to stink bug damage when the primary ear is forming just prior to tasseling and when stink bug numbers are on the rise. This purpose of this article is give you some quick tips for managing stink bugs in corn:

  • Focus on scouting two weeks prior to tasseling. After the seedling stage, stink bugs cannot damage corn until the primary ear is forming. This video provides information on how to scout. Note that stink bugs love to hang our on field edges. Be sure to scout the field interior (long sleeves and glasses go a long way in narrow-row corn) as well as the edge. They are tough to see and love to hide. Try to be somewhat stealthy and move leaves when you scout.
  • Thresholds were lowered in 2020 in response to new data we generated in both NC and VA. Note that these studies were done in a high-yield environment and the thresholds we set are already very conservative. Do not lower the threshold in response to better corn prices during 2021.
  • Work with your applicator to ensure adequate coverage of your insecticide. Stink bugs hone in on the ear zone and you must penetrate the canopy to contact them. Two species are damaging to corn, brown stink bug and southern green stink bug. While any pyrethroid could be effective for southern green stink bug, chose bifenthrin if brown stink bug is an issue.