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  • New York State Integrated Pest Management
  • Field Crops
New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM) and Cornell University’s Department of Entomology have partnered to help New York field crop growers and producers make informed, state-specific decisions about when to plant to avoid the damage caused by seedcorn maggot (SCM).

A soil-borne, early season pest of corn, soybean and other field crops, SCM is especially concerning to producers because there are no remediation options available once seed damage occurs. The pests, which reproduce quickl—up to four generations annually, depending on environmental conditions—feed directly on ungerminated seeds in soil and young seedlings. Seedcorn maggots overwinter as pupae, with adults emerging in early spring. Egg laying occurs at approximately the same time that New York growers plant their field crops, creating conditions ripe for damage and yield loss.

Under the direction of NYSIPM’s Digital Outreach and Development Coordinator Daniel Olmstead and Katja Poveda, associate professor in Cornell’s Department of Entomology, current research is designed to minimize the economic impacts of SCM damage by developing a predictive early season adult emergence model for the Network for Environment and Weather Application (NEWA) platform specifically for Empire State growers and producers.

Once a crop is germinated and reaches a robust life stage, the economic threat posed by seedcorn maggot is reduced. The short window of vulnerability, immediately after planting, creates an opportunity for growers to use avoidance as a cultural control practice.
Dan Olmstead

In order for this approach to be successful, however, growers must have precise information about when to expect adult SCM to emerge, which has proven challenging, with previous NEWA models relying on literature from other parts of North America that did not consider weather and environmental conditions specific to New York. This led to emergence dates that were off by as much as three weeks in parts of the state.

Through their combined efforts, NYSIPM and the Poveda Lab, with support from Cornell Cooperative Extension and other NYSIPM collaborators, monitored adult SCM emergence on more than 80 farms statewide in 2022 and will continue surveillance efforts in 2023. Sampling will begin in March and continue until researchers have an accurate and precise understanding of SCM emergence in all of New York’s production regions. Once research is complete a new model will be quickly integrated with the NEWA platform and available, at no cost, to all growers and producers.

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