i live in FL and we have some corn that is growing very happily, but 3 rows
of it have some odd things happening.
the plan was pushing out the "flower", if you will, but down inside the
place was FILLED with aphids and ants...from what i have read these are
"peas in a pod" but i also have noticed that the whole top of the stalk is
rotting off now (on the ones that are infected) i also read that there is
something else in the presence of these 2 nuisances and it bores down and
kills the corn stalk, any idea as to waht it is and how i can organically
get rid of it?
how would i clean my soil so it's usable next year for something else?
This is hard to prevent, as the ants 'farm' the aphids, protecting them from
enemies and moving them around. I think the best preventative is to give
the corn a good, slow, constant source of nitrogen. (Aphids seem to be
especially attracted to plants which are flush with a quick burst of N.)
This is the sort of thing that if you know to scout for it, you can treat it
before it gets so advanced that the corn is 'burned.' Soap spray into
the whorl, FOLLOWED BY A RINSE shortly after (done sometime other
than in the heat of the day) will kill aphids without harming the plant.
If you see holes in cornstalks with a wet sawdust material coming out of each
hole, you have corn borers.
Corn borers come with or without the aphids. It is the larva of a moth.
The best preventative is to treat the top of the plants with a Bt that's been
specially formulated to deal with corn borers. (It is a granular bait made
using ground corn.) Regular Bt, applied regularly to the corn whorls would
be the backup option.
The next most important thing is cleanup. Chop and hot compost your
corn stalks as soon as harvest is over.
Give it a good application of compost. Avoid quick-acting organic N sources
(chicken manure, blood meal) for slower-acting sources (alfalfa meal, cottonseed
meal). Be sure your corn has plenty of potassium.
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
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