BY DR. LISA BAXTER, UGA-TIFTON
AND DR. DENNIS HANCOCK,
UGA Extension Forage Specialist
The Sunbel T AG exPO’S Darrell Williams Research Farm provides
an exceptional opportunity to showcase forage research in south
Georgia. There are currently two demonstrations and three
research trials in progress on the farm.
These demonstrations and research trials would not be possible
without assistance from the crew at the farm and funding from the
Georgia beef Commission.
The 2-acre bermudagrass garden provides a field-scale
comparison of the six most popular varieties in the Southeast. here
producers can interact with and evaluate the different varieties
before selecting the best option for their own farm.
Adjacent to the bermudagrass garden is one of the oldest
bermudagrass/alfalfa hay fields in Georgia. These areas serve as
an outdoor classroom for training for county extension agents and
field days for producers.
Forage research at the farm is focused on improving chemical
control recommendations for the bermudagrass stem maggot
(bSM; Atherigona reversura Villenueve). Since it was first discovered
in 2010, bSM has damaged bermudagrass pastures and hay fields
throughout the Southeast.
Although the degree of damage depends on the bermudagrass
variety, latitude of the farm, and time of year, producers have
reported up to 80 percent yield loss in late summer. The economic
impact of bSM damage depends on several factors, but if a
conservative yield loss of 25 percent is generally applied to just
the bermudagrass acreage in Georgia, the potential economic
loss totals $40 million annually! Strategically-timed insecticide
applications can significantly reduce the adult bSM fly population
and protect bermudagrass during the most sensitive regrowth
phase. Although several different active ingredients are being
evaluated, at this time pyrethroids are the only effective mode of
Overuse of a single mode of action to combat a pest may
eventually result in a buildup of resistance. Preventing overuse and
uneconomical use of insecticides is a crucial educational objective
to combat the potential for resistance.
The first research trial at expo farm is evaluating the use of trap
strips, a targeted insecticide application on an unmown strip after
mowing, with the goal of reducing adult bSM populations in the
next regrowth cycle. Ideally this will improve the efficacy of the
The second trial is digitally measuring bSM damage in real-time.
ultimately, we plan to develop an integrated mobile phone app
that would combine instantaneous estimates of bSM damage in
a field with real-time reports of the bSM population to generate a
pest management recommendation for the user.
Finally, we are evaluating the potential of alfalfa to deter the
bSM in bermudagrass-alfalfa stands.
These research trials will be on-going throughout the 2018
summer growing season.
Darrell Williams research farm a top site
for Southeast forage research projects
26 Sunbelt Expo 2018 Farm Press
HAY AND FORAGES
Dr. Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist,
discusses forage research at the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s Darrell Williams
Research Farm during the Expo’s annual field day in July.
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