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Pesky Wireworms

September 26th, 2013

I’ve been harvesting my potatoes little by little as I have time and nice weather. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I have potatoes coming out my ears. Luckily, all the animals love them. There are a decent number of culls this year, the voles were particularly fond of the big main crop type potatoes. Most likely this is partly due to the fact that they’re in the ground longer and later. There are also a decent number of potatoes with wireworm damage, which is always annoying.
potato harvest
wire worm 2
wire worm 1
wire worm 3
Wireworms affect crops more when there are grassy weeds in the garden or in an area that was sod the previous year. I’ve been very good about keeping the grassy weeds pulled, which means my wireworm population will decline in the coming years. I’m also planning on putting the chickens into the garden after all the potatoes are out of the ground to scratch around and eat any that they can find. Luckily any potatoes with wireworm or vole damage can still be fed to the animals, they’ll no doubt enjoy feasting on potatoes for the coming week.

Have you ever dealt with wireworms in your potato crop?

8 Comments to “Pesky Wireworms”
  1. Ken Toney on September 26, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Sorry to hear about your potato crop. I had a wireworm problem one year when I kept my crop in the ground until late September. Now, I pull by the first week of September. Wireworms are active in September and October. This gets my crop out of the ground before they are most active. I also use chickens in the garden. Let them scratch the garden for pests after you harvest and in the spring. They do wonders tilling the soil and eating bugs.

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  2. Nebraska Dave on September 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Susy, I haven’t dug the potatoes yet. I suppose I really should get them out of the ground. I haven’t had issues with wire worms. Hopefully, that will never be a problem. I’ll be working in the garden today so maybe I’ll have to dig a sample up to see how they have grown this year. It really might be because of the flock of wild turkeys that scratch their way through my garden on a daily basis. They don’t seem to bother anything except the sweet corn seeds and young sprouts.

    Nature seems to be always against the gardener, don’t you think? Between weather, insects, disease, and wild animals, it’s quite a struggle to get a harvest. I’ve learned like you have to grow way more than what I need so all of the above things can take their toll and still I can have some too.

    Have a great fall harvest day.

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  3. kristin @ going country on September 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    UGH, YES. I think it was three years ago that it rained so much we couldn’t harvest the potatoes for a few weeks and almost every potato had wire worm damage, so all winter I had to cut away half the potato before I could cook it. So annoying.c

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  4. Marby on September 26, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for the timely post as I have just planted this seasons potatoes.

    I have seen a few of these worms when digging over old beds or uncultivated areas in my veg garden. I had no idea that they do damage so a quick internet search says that they are the larvae of the clicker beetle. I have seen those in my garden!

    Reading a few local forums (NZ) suggests that planting mustard may help as does rotating crops. I have often planted mustard and lupins during the year so that might be why I have not had a noticable problem with the worms?

    I hope there aren’t too many holes in your lovely crop of potatoes.

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  5. Jennifer Krieger on September 27, 2013 at 11:29 am

    There is nothing better than watching one of your animals eat your pests. Win win.

    Reply to Jennifer Krieger's comment

  6. Marcia on September 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    No, I hadn’t even heard of them. We don’t have potato bugs here either. However my potatoes always have some scab.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  7. Trish on September 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    are the wireworms still active at this time of year? I used to be a county farm advisor for the state extension service, and would from time to time find wireworm damage in corn. In my neck of the woods – southern Illinois near St. Louis – the heat drives the wireworms down deep into the ground pretty early on in summer.

    Joan Gussow – strong advocate of eating what you can grow locally – talked about how frustrated she was when wireworms damaged her sweet potato crop in her memoir ‘This Organic Life’.

    Reply to Trish's comment

  8. Eliza J on September 28, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    We have periodically seen these in the garden, but never knew what they were called, and have NEVER seen one half way in a potato that was harvested ~ YUCK! Nasty little critters!!! Like Marcia, we don’t have potato bugs either, yet do have some scab which has always driven me crazy. So hard to get a perfect harvest ~ I guess that’s a good reason to plant a lot, realizing that bugs, weather, too much or too little water, moles, voles, grubs, and every other garden eating critter will have it’s share and take its toll, and we don’t have much to say about it…but hey, keep trying and “garden on”!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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