So two questions:
- Why are we seeing this this year?
- Is there anything we need to do?
The short answer to both is that we really don’t know. Perhaps one hypothesis is our warm winter allowed for an earlier generation of wheat stem maggots to pupate and emerge as flies during corn planting when they would typically do so later in May. Perhaps in fields where wheat or rye wasn’t yet terminated, the flies could lay eggs and the larvae that hatched moved from the wheat or rye to the corn upon emergence and once the cover was terminated.
The larvae we’re finding now are in different stages and some are getting close to pupating. After pupating, they will emerge into flies that will lay eggs in grass crops. We don’t know for certain if the flies will lay eggs in these corn fields again or if they will move to other grassy species. We’re not recommending insecticide applications.
South Dakota State and Kansas State have previously reported rare incidences of this occurring in corn. This is my first time observing this in Nebraska. To date, I’ve seen stand loss range in fields from 5-50%.
This doesn’t mean that all potential stunted plants or stand concerns are due to this particular insect as a number of other factors could be involved. This post is intended to increase awareness of another option to look for with the number of questions I’m receiving right now regarding corn concerns in terminated rye or wheat cover.
Dr.s Justin McMechan and Bob Wright are surveying fields and conducting studies to better understand any potential concerns in future years. We will keep you informed as we continue to learn more.