Reduced Risk Pesticide Program for Sweet Corn

When pesticides are needed, an important component of any IPM program is to choose products that have the fewest detrimental characteristics possible. Because pesticides often come with hidden costs that are hard to measure (called externalities by economists), there is more to choosing a product than just price shopping and comparing efficacy. Some of these associated costs include:

  • new secondary pest problems
  • resurgence of the original pest population due to a lack of natural enemies
  • pest resistance
  • safety and regulatory expenses
  • chemical residues
  • adverse impacts on crop growth
  • health related risks (especially to the applicator)
  • ground and surface water pollution
  • land devaluation because of real or perceived hazards.

Human health, environment concerns, and delayed financial costs are all important considerations in choosing pesticides wisely. Here is a list of some of the chemical qualities that an IPM educator might consider when recommending pesticides to a farm manager:

  • rate of active ingredient required per acre
  • mammalian toxicity
  • long-term health effects
  • range of efficacy across pest complex
  • price per acre
  • chemical solubility and half-life (leaching potential)
  • soil adsorption (runoff) potential
  • toxicity to bees, birds, fish and natural enemies
  • mode of action (i.e. for resistance management).

In the last few years there have been several new, effective pesticide options that have become available in sweet corn production that can be combined to produce a reduced rate and reduced risk sweet corn program. Here is an example of one such herbicide/insecticide program that you may want to consider to replace the current program on your farm or simply to rest your favorite products for resistance management purposes.

(Pre-emergence application)
Prowl (2-4 pints/acre) Many of the most common broadleaf weeds and grasses including triazine-resistant pigweed and lambsquarters. Weak on ragweed and nutsedge.
(See label precautions to avoid crop injury – not recommended for shallow-planted, early plantings on very light soils.)
(Post-emergence application)
Permit (2/3-1 1/3 ounce/acre) Many common broadleaf weeds including ragweed, nutsedge and triazine-resistant pigweed. Use 1-1/3 oz. rate for nutsedge, wild mustard and wild radish.
(4-4.5 ounces/acre) European corn borer
(1.5-4.5 ounces/acre) fall armyworm
(4.5-6 ounces/acre) low corn earworm pressure (< 13 moths/night)
Warrior (1.28-1.92 ounces/acre) Higher populations of corn earworm (> 13 moths/night in pheromone traps = 3-day schedule)

Cornell University researchers designed a method of comparing different pesticides, by considering and rating many of the above mentioned chemical qualities and crunching them through an equation which spits out a single number or index they call an Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ). You can look up and compare the EIQ for most fruit and vegetable pesticides by going to their web site.

By Jude Boucher, Vegetable IPM Coordinator, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, Reviewed 2012

Information on our site was developed for conditions in the Northeast. Use in other geographical areas may be inappropriate.

The information in this document is for educational purposes only.  The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of publication.  Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension System does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available.  The University of Connecticut, Cooperative Extension System, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.