The Bermuda grass stem maggot is attacking Georgia forages earlier this year. This is according to Lisa Baxter, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension forage specialist.
“It’s pretty bad in South Georgia right now, south and central Georgia. It came about a month earlier than we were expecting. I don’t know if it truly came that much earlier and sudden; or if it was because, my early warning system is usually University of Florida researchers and they were on tighter quarantine restrictions than we were and they weren’t out in the fields scouting and couldn’t tell me they were coming sooner,” Baxter said.
Baxter said producers started spraying in early June for the stem maggot. That’s compared to early July in previous years.
Bermuda grass stem maggot was first discovered in southern Georgia in 2010. It is a persistent problem for hay producers. The pest damages Bermuda grass hayfields and pastures throughout the Southeast U.S. It is regularly seen throughout the Coastal Plain region up to Macon (Georgia).
“The weather this year is certainly not very conducive to Bermuda grass growth. The more stresses that are being added to that grass, the more susceptible it’s going to be for, usually in our case, stem maggot damage. There’s still cases of leaf spot showing up. It seems like when we have one stress, it just domino effects after that,” Baxter said.
The pest kills the top two leaves of the plant. Once it damages the top, producers do not get any more upright growth out of the plant and it really hurts yield.