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Wireworm issues

 
pollinator
Posts: 1416
Location: Victoria BC
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Last fall I planted garlic, in an area that was previously(prior to my purchase in 2018) a huge burnpile, built by inept dozer operators who also scraped most of the topsoil into the mess. Before that, perhaps 8 years ago, it was forest. Last summer I pulled the 8ft tall broom and the big stump remnants with the excavator, sorted through the remaining mess with tractor/subsoiler, scraped it roughly level, and went through 3x with a mattock getting the smaller stuff out, including lots of barbed wire and scraps of old steel.

The soil has obviously taken a beating through all this.


Turns out, I have a LOT of wireworms.

I attempted to prep an area for this falls garlic by planting buckwheat as a deterrent, but the deer got it all. So, the garlic is now in the ground anyhow, about 20ft away from where it was last year. Same area/soil type, and there is no reason to expect less wireworm issues.

I am building stone piles for snake habitat... but don't really expect this to help much for this round.


I had to plant the garlic with the aid of the tractor, as my hands don't let me run a pickaxe for days on end any more. It is pretty spread out as I used a subsoiler to rip the furrows; 3 furrows per row 1ft apart, with cloves about every 5.5" within the furrows. Between the rows are paths about 30" wide.

I am tempted to try buckwheat again in the spring, as the area is nominally deerproof at this point. But, how far does the deterring effect spread from the buckwheat?

Will planting stuff to deter wireworm in the paths make my issue worse?

I am also going to try some bait crops between furrows and between rows, not sure what yet.


Anyone used these strategies, or others?
 
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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What kind of wireworm issues did you actually have?  And how certain are you that wireworms were your culprit?

I'm only asking because of the University of Virginia Cooperative Extension Service pamphlet I linked to in another thread that https://web.archive.org/web/20091212065619/https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2812/2812-1026/2812-1026.html";" target="_new" rel="nofollow">seems to suggest wireworms usually don't go after root crops except in heavily cultivated/sprayed fields where they can't get the other insects and weed roots they prefer to eat.

Now if we could only train the little worms to read the pamphlets...

The way I read that pamphlet, the more cover-crop type things you interplant between your garlic rows, the better.  But it's book learnin', not experience.
 
D Nikolls
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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Dan Boone wrote:What kind of wireworm issues did you actually have?  And how certain are you that wireworms were your culprit?

I'm only asking because of the University of Virginia Cooperative Extension Service pamphlet I linked to in another thread that https://web.archive.org/web/20091212065619/https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2812/2812-1026/2812-1026.html";" target="_new" rel="nofollow">seems to suggest wireworms usually don't go after root crops except in heavily cultivated/sprayed fields where they can't get the other insects and weed roots they prefer to eat.

Now if we could only train the little worms to read the pamphlets...

The way I read that pamphlet, the more cover-crop type things you interplant between your garlic rows, the better.  But it's book learnin', not experience.



Interesting link, thanks!

I had a lot of chewed on bulbs. The damage looked exactly like pictures of wireworm damage, and I found wireworms around the bulbs, and a couple actually in bulbs,  between cloves.

The potatoes, planted nearby, had similar and even more extensive damage, and I found wireworms embedded in a few at time of harvest. I sent half the potatoes straight to a neighbour for their chickens, and only about 60% of the better half are edible, once diced and many hidden gnarly parts cut out.

The soil in this area has definitely been heavily disturbed between the previous owner clearing, stumping and burning, and then me cleaning up the remaining mess, but there were plenty of weeds quite nearby and in the paths, and the area in question is only a few thousand square feet with many acres of rough pasture adjacent.

I am pretty confident this particular patch has never been sprayed, and never been cultivated, as it had big firs and cedars until a few years ago.

I would guess that I probably have some other pest issues too, especially in the taters, but a problem ID thread will have to wait as I can't post pics right now, connection too poor..
 
gardener
Posts: 6623
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Sounds like it is time to concentrate on building healthy soil with bacteria, fungi, nematodes, amoeba, and springtails.
If you add the bacteria and some mycorrhizae fungi, the rest will migrate to where these organisms are living.

Wire worms will indeed go for bulbs and they will show a preference for those plants. When there is ample food such as gardens usually provide, they can do serious damage to the point of total crop failure.
 
pollinator
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Wireworms are my worst pest, they live up to 5 years in the soil before turning into beetles and prefer pasture land. I found they nibble the potatoes, onions and killed 90% of my lettuce. The beetles lay their eggs by preference in thick grasses so all that pasture land may well be your source of infection. (my ground was pasture up until 2 years ago)
If you are dealing with a small area, stick a potato cut in half on the end of a stick and bury it in the soil, wait 3-4 days pull it out and destroy the wireworms it has attracted. There is hope with research onto fungal control happening at the moment, but right now nothing much except rotating susceptable crops will help.
 
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