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Soy bean aphid arrives early to Ohio

The soybean aphid has arrived early to Ohio this year. This tiny insect threatens the yield of the state's number one field crop, but it's not time to worry yet.

Soft green insects no bigger than a grain of salt have Midwest farmers on the defensive. Soybean aphids may be small, but they colonize plants by the hundreds, piercing leaves and drinking the sap. Ohio State University entomologist Ron Hammond said the aphids have appeared in Ohio two weeks earlier than usual this year.

"Areas to our immediate north, Michigan and Ontario, are actually seeing outbreaks of the aphids already on very young soybeans and this is really unusual," he said.

If growers are caught off guard, the insects could decrease soy yields by up to 50%.

"If we let this go and have the kind of yield losses this is capable of, you would see a reduction in the supply of soybeans. If you look at the rise and fall of soybean prices when there's a drought or something like that, prices go up and down. But this is an insect problem you can really do something about," Hammond said.

Once growers find 250 aphids per bean plant, it's cost effective to treat their fields with pesticide. It's important that they start scouting early this year. Otherwise, with soy beans selling for more than 8 dollars a bushel, losses could reach nearly 30 thousand dollars per hundred acres.