Root and Seed Maggots

As predicted last week, I have received a number of reports of damage to various vegetables from the root and seed maggots. These pests need to be managed preventively. First, by limiting the amount of decaying organic matter (cover crops, compost, manure) that attracts the flies, growers can reduce the number of eggs laid. Second, by waiting until soils reach 70o F before planting will greatly reduce the damage. Finally, using soil applied insecticides can reduce damage. In many cases, it’s too late for that now. So what can growers do if they have lost a major percentage of their crop from one of these maggot pests? Generally, the only option is to replant. If the crop were seeded with a planter, such as sweet corn, the decision must be made to determine if the crop is worth saving or if a portion of the field needs to be disked up and replanted. For transplanted crops, individual plants can be replaced. However, I suggest that growers wait several days after the original plant died before putting another transplant in the hole to give the maggots there time to complete their development. Spraying foliar insecticides to control the flies before they lay eggs is not effective because flies move in and out of the field and only a small percentage will be affected by a foliar spray.

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