Plants get head start over pests

Local News

CHAMPAIGN — The mild winter we had could be good news for gardeners.

Experts told us plants are springing up faster than pests can attack them this season.

That’s because temperatures were warm enough to give the plants a head start, but not warm enough for the bugs to come with them.

A U of I entomologist we spoke with said this is the case for perennial plants, or plants that live for more than two years.

Some examples are rosemary, tomatoes, and sage.

The leaves on those plants will likely be too big for the insects to cause damage, since they got some extra days to grow.

“They’re just kind of sitting there while the plants are growing, and so the insects come out to leaves that are going to be mostly formed and ahead…with more leaf area than the insects can really do much damage to,” said U of I entomologist Phil Nixon.

However, he said farmers who plant corn and soybeans could have a more difficult time with temperatures the way they are now.

That’s because those crops have not been planted yet.

Because temperatures have been consistently above the 50s these past couple of weeks, the bugs could come out the same time those go in the ground.

To see if that warrants any damage, he said we’ll have to see how rainy April turns out to be.

The more rain, the more likely it is for some of those pests to get washed out, giving farmers more room to grow.

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