Conditions Ripe for Strong Disease and Insect Season in the Carolinas

We’ve spent the last couple of days visiting with NC State Grain specialist Dr. Ron Heiniger. Earlier this year there was lots of talk about grain sorghum opportunities in the Carolinas, and Heiniger says the time is here…some fields have been planted:

“There has been some sorghum that went in earlier this month and that is coming along. Some are saying it doesn’t look as good as corn, but that’s the nature of sorghum, its slow growing and early on has a tendency to be a little pale. As it gets going it starts to turn back to green. The conditions are good for a good sorghum crop. To the growers who have it in the field, just be patient with it.” 

The warm winter and early planting of corn this season is setting the season up for insect and disease pressure according to Heiniger:

“Insects have been on the rise. I’m very concerned about disease. Right now we haven’t seen a lot of it, but rumors out of Kentucky are saying they have seen some southern corn rust. That isn’t a good sign for us. Southern rust can be devastating. If you don’t get on to it quickly, its very hard to control.”

But, for now, Heiniger says that insects have yet to show up, but he feels strongly that they will:

“There hasn’t been a lot of insect problems yet, we do have some stink bugs coming out this week and some other pests are out there. I think its going to be a strong insect season so farmers should be ready.”

As to southern rust in Kentucky, Heiniger explains that its made a very early appearance:

“Southern rust doesn’t usually come out of Florida until late June so its very worrisome. All it takes is one of those storms that comes up the coast and it will bring the spores here. I think we will have a tough year with disease on corn, we will need to be proactive on it and probably need to use some of the fungicides.”

NC State Extension grain and corn specialist Dr. Ron Heiniger. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.