It is one of the crops with more history, and in fact, today, it is grown in many areas of the world. The massive applications of corn to the vast majority of culinary cultures of the world have made the fruit of this plant a must in most countries.
However, like the rest of the vegetables, its cultivation is not exempt from the arrival of annoying pests. Find out which specifically affects corn and, most importantly: how can you avoid them.
First, we will know some aspects of the plant. The scientific name of corn is Zea mays, and in fact, this name was the one originally used by Native American Indians.
In the entire American continent, it has been cultivated for thousands of years, and, in fact, it is not known for sure where in America it could originate. However, in the rest of the world, we would have to wait for the 16th century to know the taste of this food.
It was introduced in Europe after the Spanish invasion of this century, and since then, it has been cultivated incessantly in numerous countries. In Spain, it receives various names such as mills, millet, or piano, among others, and of course, it is an ingredient present in numerous recipes.
The corn plant
Its gastronomic application is very varied, since corn is used both to make flour and also eaten raw, sweetened, sauteed, fried or grilled. This makes it a very versatile food whose plant is very precious in any area of the world.
The plant from which it comes as a single stem and about 20 leaves. The spikes form at the top and are responsible for providing the pollen that fertilizes the cob. These are composed of edible grains.
The plants are between 1 and 2 meters long, although there have been cases of plants that reach or exceed 3 meters high. It is grown in warm times, so depending on the hemisphere of the planet in which we find ourselves, it is sown in a few months or in others.
That is, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is sown between September and December and harvested between March and August, while in the Northern Hemisphere, it is sown between April and May, and the harvest is harvested in September. It all depends on the amount of rainfall collected on the ground and the temperature of the area.
Corn is a very appetizing cereal, and in fact, we offer you a fact that will surely surprise you: it is the cereal with the highest production worldwide, surpassing others as well known as rice or wheat.
This is due to its nutritional contribution, considered complete, and its low cost and ease of cultivation. In addition, it takes advantage of both its fruit and its stems, the latter as food for some animals.
And precisely for all these reasons, corn is a very desirable cereal for numerous insects that can form pests that attack plants if they are not controlled. These are some of the most common:
- The worms are the major pest of corn. There are numerous types, such as the white worm. It feeds on the roots of the plant since it lives underground. These are small beetle larvae that can do a lot of damage to corn. The gray and green worms also affect the leaves and fruits, and usually attack at the most vulnerable moment for the plant, when the corn begins to be born. For its part, the cooler worm causes scratches in the internal foliage of the plant.
- How could it be less, the corn also has its aphid. They cause real havoc on the blade but also on the spike. In fact, its damages retard the growth reaching to reduce the harvest by 30%. They measure about 2 millimeters long and have a bluish color. They occupy the inside of the buds of the plant.
- The bedbugs or green mosquitos are very small and, therefore, difficult to see. Its presence rarely attracts attention, if not because the plant is getting sick and losing leaves and fruit.
- The red spider is a mite that usually comes on days with quite high temperatures and prolonged drought. Therefore, they are perfect allies of corn growth. It owes its name to its red color and presents an elliptical or oval shape. It lays its eggs on the leaves, which are transparent and difficult to see — the eggs hatch after a temperature of 26ºC after about five days. We will notice its presence due to the reddish spots that appear on the plant, a sign of dehydration due to the loss of the sap.
- The thrips suck the sap of the plant, which causes symptoms of dehydration. The adult is approximately one millimeter long, and its color is dark gray. They reproduce very quickly since they lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves and give rise to small nymphs at four days. It deeply damages the development of the plant.
How to eliminate corn pests
In recent years, the most cultivated varieties of corn are those that have resulted from a selection process in search of the sweetest grain, so the sugar content calls, if possible, even more powerfully the attention of unwanted insects.
However, there are different ways to end corn pests. We tell you how:
- The insecticides are the most common option. In many cases, such as those that treat the plague of the cooler worm, they prevent the vital enzymes of these insects from acting normally. They usually have a fairly affordable cost and not very high levels of toxicity in humans. You can find them in phytosanitary stores, gardening, nurseries, and in some cases, also in hardware stores.
- Less toxic insecticides with mainly natural ingredients are being developed in recent years, as is the case of some laboratories such as Basel. The basis of their products is substances of natural origin without perfumes, preservatives, or dyes. Many of their products have obtained the ‘pesticide-free’ certificate.
- The aphid, on the other hand, can easily be prevented if we do not make the plant suffer too much. For this, it is important that you do not have too much fertilizer, that the irrigation is adequate (not too much with methods such as blanket irrigation, or too little), and that you get the necessary hours of sunshine. All this, in addition to keeping the plant-strong against external aggressions, will also lead to the emergence of beneficial insects such as ladybugs or crisopas, its predator.
- If you are looking for a natural remedy, potassium soap is a substance that does not cause damage to the plant or humans, and that softens the exoskeleton of many insects, ultimately causing their death.
- Some pests, when they are very colorful, can be removed manually, as long as it is a single plant that is affected. An option to prevent an infestation from one plant to another is to interleave crops or plant plants of the same species separated from each other. This will make it easier for you to control the bug when it appears in the first one.