DR. LISA BAX TER
UGA Extension Forage Specialist
THE SUNBELT AG EXPO Darrell Williams Research Farm provides a
perfect opportunity to showcase forage research in South Georgia.
There are currently two research trials in progress on the farm, with
several more planned for next season. The two-acre bermudagrass
garden provides a field-scale comparison of the six most-popular
bermudagrass varieties in the Southeast.
Here producers can interact with and evaluate these different
varieties before selecting the best option for their own farm. This
area also provides an outdoor classroom for county Extension
agents, producers and industry partners.
Forage research at the farm is focused on improving the chemical
control recommendations for the bermudagrass stem maggot (BSM;
Atherigona reversura Villenueve).
Although the degree of damage depends on the bermudagrass
variety, latitude of the farm, and time of year, producers have
reported up to an 80 percent yield loss in late summer. The economic
impact of the 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.
The first research trial is evaluating the use of trap strips, a
targeted insecticide application on an unmown strip after mowing,
in reducing adult BSM populations in the next regrowth cycle. Ideally
this will improve the efficacy of the insecticide application.
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. This work would not
be possible without assistance from the crew at the Darrell Williams
Research Farm and funding from the Georgia Beef Commission.
Strategically-timed insecticide applications can significantly reduce
the adult BSM fly population and protect the bermudagrass during the
most sensitive regrowth phase. The current recommendation requires
two insecticide applications, one at 7 to 10 days after harvest and one
applied 7 to 10 days later. Unfortunately, most of the Southeast has
experienced drought conditions this summer, which leads to slower
It is important to remember that the BSM fly is only found in fields
with green leaf material. If producers find themselves in a drought
situation, they should delay insecticide applications until the grass
begins to regrow.
With the prolonged drought this summer, many pastures have
been overgrazed while hayfields did not generate as many bales
as predicted. It is likely that many producers do not have enough
quality forage resources for this fall and winter.
If rainfall continues, then stockpiling forage and growing winter
annuals should be explored. Producers should evaluate winter
feeding strategies and work with their local county Extension agent
to develop a customized plan for their farm.
38 Sunbelt Expo 2019 Farm Press
Research targets bermudagrass stem
FOCUS ON THE FARM
maggot economic impact
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