Avoiding Injury from Seed Corn Maggot

Avoiding Injury from Seed Corn Maggot April 26, 2019

Seed Corn Maggot Map
Figure 1. Seed corn maggot development is estimated using a base temperature of 39°F (3.9°C) for degree–day calculation. (Source: Nebraska Mesonet)

We have seen periodic injury from seed corn maggot that has reduced stands of Nebraska corn and soybeans. The greatest risk for seed corn maggot injury is when a green manure or animal manure is incorporated just before planting. The female flies are attracted to lay eggs on sites with decaying organic matter. The seed corn maggot will also feed on germinating crop seeds and can reduce seedling vigor and, if abundant enough, reduce plant stands.

The following University of Minnesota recommendations can help minimize injury from seed corn maggots.

Cultural Control

Seed Corn Maggots
Figure 2. Seed corn maggots (Photo by Jim Kalisch)
  • Delay planting until soil temperatures promote rapid seed germination.
  • Avoid planting for at least two weeks after fresh organic materials have been incorporated into soil.
  • Degree-day models can guide decisions about adjusting planting date to avoid periods with high larval abundance. Seedcorn maggot development is estimated using a base temperature of 39°F (3.9°C) for the degree-day calculation.
  • Avoid planting during peak fly emergence. For the first three generations this occurs when 354, 1080, and 1800 degree days have accumulated, respectively since January 1.

Use of a labelled insecticidal seed treatment on corn or soybeans should provide adequate protection against seed corn maggot, except when there are high densities of these insects. Growers not using insecticidal seed treatments can modify their planting dates to minimize injury from these insects by monitoring growing degree days. There are several generations of seed corn maggots in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Climate Office is providing degree-day data useful for predicting seed corn maggot development. See https://mesonet.unl.edu/page/data for this and additional pest prediction maps.

The first generation of fly emergence is past peak in southeastern and south-central Nebraska.