Battling resistance is rapidly becoming one of the most challenging hurdles facing agriculture. Often the term resistance is associated with weeds and the herbicides that no longer control them. The challenge is just as real with insect populations becoming resistant to traditional insecticides. The industry is also seeing regulatory bodies putting pressure on widely utilized products (such as chlorpyrifos) that are deemed unsafe to the environment and humans. It’s exciting then to see a truly unique active that is both soft to beneficial insects and cost effective, starting to gain popularity in the market.

Helicoverpa NPVs are a valuable tool to help combat these problems but they also need more involved management than some of the more traditionally utilized insecticides. Timing is critical to success with NPV. It needs to be applied to small larvae less than 0.5in long. Control on larger larvae will be weak. The time it takes larvae to die from an NPV infection is slower than with control measures like pyrethroids. Feeding will cease quickly after infection; however, death will usually not occur for four to seven days. Correct identification of the pest present in the crop is also essential. Other larvae that may be present like armyworms or loopers will not be controlled by Helicoverpa NPV. To get the best result from Helicoverpa NPVs, it’s important to partner with your local Crop Quest Agronomist to ensure insect identification and timing are correct.

Looking forward, NPVs have a strong fit in broadacre agriculture not only due to their cost effectiveness and efficacy but also to protect beneficial insects and support integrated pest management.

Written by Joel Heppell, Crop Quest Agronomist – Ulysses, KS

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