mineral oil???sweet corn???

tn_jedJune 30, 2009

hello, i was talking to a Amish man the other day who told me if i put mineral oil into a spray bottle and spray it on the silks of sweet corn it will keep the Japanese Beatles and ear worms out. what type of mineral oil is he talking about, is this organic. the only mineral oil that comes to mind is 90wt. gear oil and that cant be organic, he also said vegtable oil or any type of organic oil, has anyone heard of this b4?????

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pathfinder81601(z8SC)

Hi, tn_jed, I use light veggie oil on my corn and have found only one worm in my corn patch in my backyard garden. I mixed half light veggie oil and half rainwater and used a mist sprayer. It needs to sprayed as soon as the silks begin to appear...otherwise, it will be too late. Hope this helps. Happy Gardening. Billie

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 1:55PM
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tn_jed

thanks for the reply if you get a chance i was wondering if this is sumthing you have been doing for a long time with good results this year its too late for me to do this and i have a 200x100 patch of corn so it would be a pretty big job. other thing is you say as soon as the silk comes out, does this hinder pollination in any way and is it sumthing you have to reapply a few times throughout the season

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 2:08PM
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organicguy(7)

Using mineral oil to keep out ear worms is an ole and very effective practice, and you can use the mineral oil you buy at the pharmacy.

DO NOT apply it when the tassels first appear or it will interfere with polination. Apply it when the tasells first start to turn brown. By then, polination is done and the worms have not yet become a problem. They like the ears when the sugar in the kernals starts to build up.

Ron
The Garden Guy
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    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 7:15PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Mineral oil is a petroleum product and it has been a somewhat standard control used by many people for years to control the Corn Earworm. For some of us because it is a petroleum product it is not acceptable for organic use, especially since vegetable oil is just as effective, and less expensive.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 7:26PM
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organicguy(7)

Petroleum is the residue of decayed plants, so unrefined it still classifies as organic. It is nothing more than petroleum that has been subjected to carefully controlled processes of Filtration, Dehydration, Absorption and Adsorption of undesirable gases and other impurities.

I find it amazing that people would have no problem putting Vaseline on their kids skin, but use a petroleum product in the garden and "it's not organic"!!

It IS organic, it's harmless, it doesn't come in contact with the food you eat and it doesn't even come in contact with the soil. This is just another example of what I consider organic fanatics, instead of common sense organic gardening.

Ron
The Garden Guy
** See Below
Informative articles, ongoing garden journal,
and interactive message boards

Here is a link that might be useful: The Garden Guy Website & Blog

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 8:06PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

We did not put Vaseline on our kids back then and would not do that today. If you squirt some mineral oil into the corn ear it will touch the food you eat, the oil cannot help but touch the food part of the ear. Whether it touches the soil or not makes little to no difference about whether mineral oil is organic or not, but since vegetable oils are just as effective why spend the extra money on this mineral oil?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 6:39AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

You can also use a spray can of olive or vegetable oil, per kimmsr. I've seen it in pump sprays. If there are insects inside the ears, it suffocates them, just as mineral oil does. Otherwise, it's a repellent.

And yes, as organic guy says, don't spray until the silks begin to turn brown on the tips.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 8:04AM
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Michael

How does it suffocate worms down in an ear?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 9:27PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The oil flows down and coats the larva, and touches the kernals all the way down.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 6:58AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

michael

What kimmsr said. Every kernel on the cob is attached to a silk, and during the pollination process, the pollen fertilizes the kernels via the silks. So later the silks serve as a pathway into the ear and to the worms for the oil.

The eggs are laid by the moths on the silks right where they enter the ear, and the small larva make their way down into the ear where they munch away and grow to be up to 2 1/2 inches long.

While the oil smothers the larva, an even more effective method of getting rid of the worms is to mix Btk with the oil.

You just shouldn't apply the oil until the pollination process is complete, or it is said the oil will block the fertilization of the kernels. The silks will begin browning on the ends once pollination is finished.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 7:49AM
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Michael

Thanks Anney for the explanation though I was already aware of how pollenation works in corn. I now assume the oil runs down the silk exteriors. My strategy has always been to spray bt on the silks once as soon as they emerge then once or twice more with the last at the point when silks are browning. The idea is to get them eating the bt on the way in and kill'em before they can do much damage. Does applying oil at brown silks kill off the worms already inside before they cause much damage? Seems to me the little buggers are eating all the way down. The bt has worked very well for years with less than 1-2% of the ears having a worm at harvest.

Oh yes, how much oil per ear?

Michael

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 5:41PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

michael

A couple of drops is all it takes (or a small quick squirt with a spray device), applied to the silks where they enter the ear, not on the end where the silks are turning brown.

Yes, the oil does kill the worms inside before they grow to full size and move down toward the bottom of the ear. They spend about two weeks inside the ear if not controlled, ruining the corn! If you mix vegetable oil and BT, the ratio is 3 teaspoons per quart of oil.

If you've already used BT and it's been successful, are you just looking to change your program?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 6:16PM
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Michael

Anney: mostly just curiosity but also, one year I went to spray Bt and realized I was out. Living an hour's drive from the nearest source, it was just a bit of a pain in the a** to quickly go get some. An alternative close at hand would have been nice. Also, my sprayer is a bit unwieldy and a small bottle with a dropper might be even handier.

I wonder if Stylet Oil would work as well, it isn't labeled for sweetcorn, just field corn for Fall armyworm. Too bad.

Thanks Anney, I think I'll do a half and half (oil on one half/Bt on the other) and see what happens.

Michael

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 6:23PM
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benntblundell_netzero_net

what is btk

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:57AM
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midlin(5B)

Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk) is a naturally occurring bacteria that is very effective at killing worms/caterpillars for fruits & vegetables.

Watch that you buy kurstaki, the strain you need for caterpillars/worms.

A different strain, Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), is a very common control for mosquitos but not for worms/caterpillars.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 1:43PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I first heard of this trick from a nurseryman, 35 years ago.
We did not use it because we planted over 1000 corn stalks for freezing for a family of eight.
But it worked well for him.
The earlier you plant corn, the less problems you have the worms.
The corn ear worm is the same worm as the Tomato fruit worm, not to be confused with the tomato horn worm.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 10:31PM
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cbailey89_yahoo_com

I am a bit confused. Do you apply the oil when the silk first appears? Or some time after?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 3:39PM
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silkiemama(7a)

There are 2 kinds of mineral oil. One is called FOOD GRADE.
This is what you put on corn. It is no different than corn oil, etc. It is not toxic and won't hurt you. I use it to oil my wooden cutting boards and my oak table. On my way out now to "OIL" my corn!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 10:20AM
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TooManyAnts

I am getting ants crawling all over the spots where I dropped the vegetable oil at the tips of the corn silks. Do ants like vegetable oil? Will it encourage them to go into the corn and destroy it? They seem to be regular black ants. I haven't opened up any of the corn ears to see if they are being eaten. Just wondering why no one hear mentioned ants gathering at the oil.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 4:58PM
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TooManyAnts

*here

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 5:06PM
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JCSawyer0905

How much vegetable oil or mineral oil do you use and I read above that one was mixed with rain water. So if mixed with water what ratio do you use, 50/50?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 9:44AM
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