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Onion and Seed Corn Maggot Concerns in a Cold, Wet Spring

Crystal Stewart-Courtens, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

April 18, 2018

Last year we saw a lot of problems with root feeding damage from maggots early in the season, which has growers on edge about pest pressure this year. Seed corn maggots can damage a variety of crops, and in previous years have been observed on everything from sunflower shoots in the greenhouse to pea seedlings and onion transplants in the field. Onion maggots are more particular, and will only feed on allium hosts.

 Both seed corn and onion maggot flies are attracted to and will lay eggs in fields with large amounts of decomposing organic matter. Large applications of compost and decomposition of robust cover crops benefit cash crops, but also have this unforeseen side effect. For this reason, planting early crops into fields with lower organic matter is a best practice if maggots are a concern on organic farms. Conventional growers will often choose to use seed treated with an insecticide to protect early plantings.

 In small scale plantings it's also possible to exclude adults by applying insect netting or row cover during flights. Onion maggot flights are tracked on the NEWA website, which tracks growing degree days (GDD):  http://newa.cornell.edu/index.php?page=onion-maggot Seed corn maggot flight is also predicted by growing degree days, although NEWA doesn't use a model.

 When will the maggots arrive?  Right now we have accumulated 83 GDD at a base of 40 F in Clifton Park (Saratoga County) and 148 GDD in Montgomery (Orange County). Seed corn maggots emerge at 360 GDD base 40, and onion maggots emerge at 400 GDD base 40. We have a ways to go, with GDD accumulating faster the higher the temperature climbs above 40. If using exclusion netting, get it on prior to the flight starting. Another option, if feasible, is to hold plants in a protected environment until after the flight has concluded.



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Announcements

U-Pick Farm Practices During Covid-19 Pandemic

U-Pick is a critical direct marketing approach for many of our farms and provides
customers with a unique connection to fresh produce grown close to home. In light
of what we understand about the spread of COVID-19, new management practices
will be needed to protect your farm team and your customers. This document
provides recommended practices and communication strategies for U-Pick
operations for the 2020 season.

https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_864.pdf

Growers-are you running low on fall pumpkins, etc?

The Produce Auctions located around the state may have what you need.  Check out all of the opportunities here: https://harvestny.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=4

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

Onion Thrips and Onion Maggot Management Recommendations with Dr. Brian Nault

May 26, 2021
Onion Thrips and Onion Maggot Management Recommendations with Dr. Brian Nault

Cornell University vegetable entomologist Dr. Brian Nault discusses recommendations for managing onion thrips in 2021 with specialist Ethan Grundberg. Nault and Grundberg review basic principles of resistance management, using action thresholds to time insecticide applications, and season-long pesticide programs for managing thrips before discussing how the upcoming chlorpyrifos ban in New York will impact seedcorn and onion maggot management in 2022 and beyond.

Resources:

Onion Thrips Insecticide Program Flow Chart from Dr. Brian Nault: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_980.pdf

NEWA Onion Maggot Emergence Model: http://newa.cornell.edu/index.php?page=onion-maggot

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