Hessian fly is typically a bigger problem for wheat growers in the Upper Southeast in the fall than in the spring.

However, a number of growers have reported significant damage from late emerging flies in parts of North Carolina and Virginia this year.

Hessian fly typically has three to six generations per year in the South, with fewer generations in northern latitudes. Generations tend to overlap. The entire life cycle requires about 35 days at 70 degrees F, but takes longer at cool temperatures.

The first generation develops during September or October, depending on latitude and is generally found on volunteer wheat or wild grass hosts.

“I would say for most of the Upper Southeast that volunteer wheat in a double-crop with soybeans is the biggest source and host.

“Hessian fly can certainly harbor on weeds, but our problems are almost entirely from the no-till, continuous wheat-bean scenario,” says Dominic Reisig, North Carolina Extension entomologt.

There are often two more generations in the fall and early winter in Alabama and Georgia, but only one generation during the fall and winter in North Carolina and Virginia.

Wheat growers across the Upper Southeast planted a big crop of wheat last fall and another warm winter presents some challenges to maximize yield and quality of the crop. So far, one of the major challenges in some parts of the region has been managing this late emerging generation of Hessian fly.

With wheat prices holding steady in the $7-8 per bushel range, growers are going to seek maximum yields to take best advantage of the high prices. Unfortunately, the best control for Hessian fly occurred at planting when growers either did or did not plant wheat varieties with genetic resistance to Hessian flies.

The high prices of wheat and the economic advantages of double-cropping wheat and soybeans led many growers to plant extra wheat. With wheat seed supplies in some popular Hessian fly resistant varieties tight in some areas of the region, some growers rolled the dice, hoping for light Hessian fly populations.

Growers in this category are likely in for some tough times, especially if they planted non-resistant varieties earlier than recommended.