NDSU Extension Service - Burke County

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Wheat Stem Sawfly

Wheat Stem Sawfly

County Agent News
Dan Folske
September 8, 2014

Wheat Stem Sawfly

                Although this year’s wide spread lodging problem in wheat may is not caused by wheat stem sawfly, this pest can be a major cause of lodging and yield loss. The wheat stem maggot, which looks like a small wasp, lays its eggs on wheat stems in June or early July. The larvae then feed in the stem and cut a notch just above the soil surface as the plant matures. This is often followed by stem breakage and lodging. The larvae survive the winter in the stump of the wheat stem. Reduced tillage systems increase the survivability of this pest compared to fall or early spring tillage systems. As more producers have opted for reduced tillage cropping systems the incidence of this pest has increased in North Dakota. Because of the relatively long adult emergence and egg laying period control with insecticides has not generally been cost effective, requiring multiple applications.

                Field scouting and the selection of solid stemmed wheat varieties for planting in areas of observed sawfly infestations has been the primary management tool for control of this insect. Plant breeders and researchers continue to breed resistant varieties and look for additional control methods.

                As part of these research efforts, Dr. Stefan T. Jaronski, Research Entomologist at the USDA ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney plans on collecting wheat stem sawfly larvae in infested fields this fall. If you have a field with suspected sawfly activity (stems broken near the ground), we would like to hear from you. Please contact me at the Burke County Extension office. I would gleadly take a look at your field and pass the information on to Dr. Jaronski.

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