A field consultant with grower-owned Amalgamated Sugar Co. has reported cutworms and wireworms in sugar beet fields near Jamieson, Ore., in Malheur County.
An April 25 post on the Pacific Northwest Pest Alert Network said plant-injuring cutworms, which are nocturnal, are usually worse in fields where there is crop residue.
An apparently bare spot could have the lower portion of a cut plant below. Larvae often are found less than an inch below the soil surface near a damaged plant.
Several species can damage beet seedlings, especially in fields where weedy spots or plant debris on the soil surface attract cutworm over-wintering or early-season egg laying, Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks said.
Growers have biological and chemical control options. Oregon State and Washington State universities, and the University of Idaho publish the handbooks.
Growers “are no strangers to the cutworm,” said Clarke Alder, an agronomist with Amalgamated. They are an early-season pest typical for sugar beets, and “growers know to watch out for them.”
Given the “great year” of 2018 followed by the current wet spring, insects likely will challenge growers more in 2019, he said.