In early May, American Agriculturist reported that the Northeast’s spring would be wetter and cooler than normal. So far, the AccuWeather report has been on the money. But it didn’t say anything about slugs.
In late May, University of Delaware Extension Integrated Pest Management Specialist Bill Cissel reported continued slug injury on corn from two slug species — the grey garden slug and the marsh slug. Cool, wet weather has slowed corn growth to a crawl, and corn seedlings weren’t able to stay ahead of the slugs.
This may a problem farther north in Pennsylvania, New York and beyond where cool, wet weather also continues to slow corn growth and delay plantings. That’s the reason for this notice.
No-till fields and fields with high organic matter and a history of manure tend to be at greatest risk. While planting early gives corn an edge, early planting wasn’t and isn’t in the cards for many farms this spring, notes Cissel. Under heavy pressure, slugs can still outcompete seedling plants. If slug injury is severe and the weather outlook is continued cool and wet — unfavorable for corn growth — a control measure may be necessary.
What can ‘slug’ slugs?
Based on university trials, slug bait rescue treatments are successful in reducing slug populations and feeding damage on corn, says Cissel. The catch is that there are no established thresholds for when a rescue treatment is warranted.
Several chemical control options are available, he adds. They include: metaldehyde baits (Deadline M-Ps), Sluggo and Iron Fist.