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Old August 1, 2017   #1
bower
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Default wireworms eat garlic

Not a pest I would have thought of, but it seems that wireworms do feed on garlic. At least, this is what the damage looks like to me. I didn't see any wireworms when I built the bed last year, so it came as a surprise.

I guess this may also explain why my New York White had so many misses. I really hope the rest of my garlic is not being chewed up.
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Old August 2, 2017   #2
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Someone I knew had an infestation of wireworms in her garden after adding compost that had been part sod. She used potatoes as bait traps and as far as I know it worked for her. Whether they would go for potatoes over garlic who knows? Cheap enough to try burying some alongside the garlic and see what happens.
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Old August 2, 2017   #3
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Yup this was a "new" bed that I built over an old bed that had become a weedy area (grass too). I wasn't aware that wireworms are found at different levels depending on the time of year and soil temperature. Haven't seen any for years so they weren't in my mind at all. And this is only my fifth year growing garlic, so I'm still in the "meet the pests" mode.

The porcelain will be next to come out in a couple of days - 3 weeks from scape harvest is this weekend - so it's a bit late to use traps at this point... hopefully they fared better, if not, I guess I'll be making lots of garlic powder from the damaged bulbs. I hope the damaged cloves don't rot and spoil the others during the cure process. Or maybe I should just cut them up immediately and put in the dehydrator.
I'll certainly trap out the bed before I plant anything else there.
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Old August 2, 2017   #4
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Kill every click bug you see.
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Old August 3, 2017   #5
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Quote:
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Old August 3, 2017   #6
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Mores the mystery I haven't seen any at all.
Maybe I don't spend enough time lying in the tall grass!
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Old August 3, 2017   #7
PureHarvest
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I think I might of seen a few with damage like that on mine.
Im rotating into a spot next year that has been pasture grass/weeds for 3 years. Crap.

But I found this:

"Most farmers don't experience high enough populations of wireworm to see significant damage to the crop, but things can get out of control without your realizing it. Basic practices to prevent wireworm build-up in the soil:
Cover Crops: Brown mustard produces a bio-fumigant in its roots that deters wireworms and perhaps even kills them. Including brown mustard in your regular crop rotation is a good practice. Buckwheat also seems to drive populations of wireworm down in the soil. Click here to learn how to incorporate these rotation crops into your field.
Trap Crops: If wireworms are present but not in huge numbers, you can plant a trap crop in the aisle between your garlic beds to lure them away from the garlic. Radish works well, or even wheat. Plant your bait crop in a straight line right down the middle of the aisle with seeds very close together. Once the bait crop is mature, check it for wireworms and then harvest the entire crop, including the wireworms! Potatoes also make great wireworm traps. Cut a potato in half and run a stick through the middle. Bury the spud about one inch deep so that the stick stands vertically as a handle. Pull the traps out after a day or two and discard wireworms."

Last edited by PureHarvest; August 3, 2017 at 04:21 PM.
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Old August 6, 2017   #8
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Great info, Pure, Thanks!!

Here I am feeling very troubled about what to rotate my garlic beds into... I had decided that carrots was worth a try - and I did rotate one of last year's beds into carrots... I sure wasn't thinking about wireworms. One of the onion beds l rotated to beets and beans... again, could be a wireworm festival at least the beets. I just pulled my 2nd year porcelains from a different bed, and there is some damage on them too - not as much, but a sign the wireworms are on the increase.

I have also been quite worried about wasted effort due to the amount of free running critters in my place, and doubting about getting a crop other than garlic, which they don't care for. Now, of all things, I confirmed a couple of days ago that there is a RAT about the garden. I guess I was in denial about the maker of the hole and thief of last year's tomatoes, hoping it was just the usual squirrels, but no. It is a very large (and I must say healthy looking!) brown rat. It is at least twice the size of our local squirrels and close to the size of a cat. So I have even more doubts about the benefit of increasing agricultural activity in crops that attract even nastier wildlife. I must say tomatoes seem to be a rat magnet in this part of the planet.
I am personally partial to brown mustard as a condiment. I could definitely see putting some mustard rotations in without catering to the critter scene. I could sow buckwheat in spring, and I actually am fond of that too if I get a grain harvest, while I don't think it would be of great critter interest. And I don't care for radishes so I like the trap crop idea too, for the wireworm purposes. All worth a try for sure, to keep my fallow beds out of weeds and grass, at least!

If not for these issues, I think I could grow garlic and onions galore here, with no trouble from the usual suspects.
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Old October 2, 2017   #9
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So an update after an observation.
A few of my lettuce plants wilted and died. Maybe 4 out of 50. They were not dry.
Pulled them up and found a single wire worm burrowed into the main stem.
So I know they are present.
A few feet away, I have Hakurei Turnips (which are really radishes) growing. As I have been harvesting them, they have all these sunken and circular blemishes on them. Reminded me of the wireworm damage on your garlic, just none of the woody/dried scabiness around the wound Probably because they are not in the ground long enough to do this.
Then it dawned on me it has to be wireworm damage on the turnips. And that radish indeed would be a good trap crop.

Last edited by PureHarvest; October 2, 2017 at 03:31 PM.
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Old October 2, 2017   #10
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I still don't have a materialized plan for how to deal with the wireworm issue.
But I'm thinking about those trap crops and rotations. I just don't have the seed yet.

Tilling you know is highly recommended for wireworms. I can't get a tiller into the beds here. The area I would like to till for future garlic beds is also too rocky for a tiller someone said. I don't have a tiller either I have a digging fork and I don't know if that is any use at all. Wonder if anybody can tell, is it any use at all to dig it all up with a fork or do you need a tiller to cut the little buggers up?
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Old October 2, 2017   #11
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I forgot to mention that I also positively identified the culprits while harvesting the rest of my garlic. Not huge numbers but several bulbs in several beds were pulled with the worm there wiggling in the roots.

Given the life cycle of this pest it could get worse if not controlled. So effort is worth it, IMO.
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Old October 4, 2017   #12
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So i found that beneficial nematodes will solve the issue. There are mulitple species you can buy depending on your target pest. The one that the company I surfed onto says Stienernema carpocapsae is for wireworms.

It will cost me $72 to do my area.

Edit: the research I am finding doesn't conclusively state that they are effective.

Last edited by PureHarvest; October 4, 2017 at 09:27 AM.
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Old October 4, 2017   #13
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I'm reading that soil temperature is really key to interventions - the optimal temperature that they like is between 50-60 F. In our climate, they'll be soon going deep for the winter- as deep as 2 ft, so I'd better do my prep soon. (Higher soil surface temps will drive them deeper too).

Tilling attracts them to the surface because of the release of CO2 from the soil. Then supposedly they are vulnerable to bird predators and to dessication - if they get caught out on a cold night. A bit iffy.

But if you tilled when your soil temperature is right and give them a day to come to the surface after the CO2, then apply your nematodes in the optimal band of soil, that would probably maximize your chance of success. I suppose the supplier gives instructions that relate to wireworm's soil depth habits.

I have carrots still growing in the main bed where I mean to plant garlic in a few weeks. So far I haven't seen any sign of wireworm damage there, so perhaps they aren't in that area. I hope! And I have beets in one of the other beds for rotation, so if they're present I guess I'll know about it soon enough.
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