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Story in Brief

The bermudagrass stem maggot (BSM) was first reported in Georgia in 2010. Ten years later, the BSM continues to be a major pest problem in Georgia and 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 an 80 percent yield loss in late summer. As UGA crop and soil scientists began to explore the influence of forage management practices on BSM damage they are now seeing a possible interaction between the BSM damage, harvest timing and height, fertilization, and weed control. What started as a search for chemically controlling a novel insect in bermudagrass has expanded into a nexus of forages, weed and insect management and soil fertility. A strategic IPM and forage management plan is key for Southeast forage producers, especially considering the economic implications. The economic impact of the BSM damage depends on several factors, but if a conservative annual yield loss of 25 percent is generally applied to just the bermudagrass acreage in Georgia, the potential economic loss totals $30 million to $40 million annually. Producers expect to save $11.40 per acre annually if they implement the knowledge they learned from forage Extension programming. If applied to the four million acres of pasture, hay, and silage in Georgia, producer costs would be reduced by $45.6 million annually. On-farm demonstrations and producer involvement in research activities will continue to improve adoption rates of good management practices, new technologies, and research-based solutions.