Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wheat and the Hessian Fly in Maryland 1812 - Advice to Farmers

Poulson's American Daily Advertiser.;
Date: 07-28-1812;
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Rural Economy:
               The following method is recommended to preserve Wheat for years from the fly that prevails more or less every year in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, Delaware and Jersey, and more particularly on the Bays, Rivers and adjacent country.[1]
               Get your wheat out of your straw as early as you possibly can; clean the straw well from the chaff and wheat; if you have a barn, put your wheat away in bulk, leaving the chaff with it.  I knew wheat kept several years during the Revolutionary War in this way free from all insects. - Rats and mice cannot burrow in this bank, it will continually fall on them.  Those that have not barns may make pens with logs, or fence rails; first laying logs or rails on the earth sufficent to keep the damp from rising to injure the wheat; then cover the floor twelve or eighteen inches thick with with straw well tread down - put your wheat on this floor miced with all its chaff, and as you fill the pen, line the sides well with straw; when you have filled your pen in this way, stack your straw on the top of it, seeing that the straw extends well over the top of the pen to carry off the rain water.              E. K. [2]

[1] Asa Fitch. 1847. Diptera. C. Van Benthuysen and Co., Albany. [accessed July 23, 2013] http://archive.org/details/101187262.nlm.nih.gov

 "The insect which we are about to consider, has for a long period been, at times, a severe scourge, in every district of our country. It is more formidable to us, says Dr. B. S. Barton, than would be an army of twenty thousand Hessians, or of any other twenty thou sand hirelings, supplied with all the implements of war. Hence it has forced itself prominently to the notice both of agriculturists and men of science. No other insect of the tens of thousands that teem in our land, has received a tithe of the attention, or been chronicled with a tithe of the voluminousness that has been assigned to this species. Our scientific journals, our agricultural magazines, and our common newspapers, have each accorded to it a conspicuous place in their columns. As may well be supposed, almost every point in its history, has by one and another of its observers, been closely investigated, and laid before the public. Very little that is  new, can, therefore, at this day be embodied in an account of this species. The most that an observer can accomplish, is to add his testimony in confirmation of facts that have been already announced. The most that a writer can aim at, is to gather the various papers that are scattered through volumes sufficiently numerous of themselves to form a library, sift from them whatever they contain of importance, and arrange the facts thus acquired, into a connect ed and symmetrical memoir. Such is the object of the present essay ; to carefully review the various accounts that have been hitherto published, extract from each the items of value which it contains, compare these with personal observations made under favorable circumstances during the past twelve months, and with the materials thus acquired, rite out a history of this species, more ample in its details than any that has been hitherto attempted, and containing a complete summary of all that is known of this insect down to the present day."   

J. W. Chapin, Extension Small Grain Specialist, Department of Entomology, Soils, and Plant Sciences, Clemson
University, Edisto Res. & Ed. Center, 64 Research Road, Blackville, SC 29817. 803-284-3343-ext. 226 jchapin@clemson.edu. [accessed July 23, 2013]

"The Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor (Say), got its common name from the belief that it was introduced
to North America in the straw bedding of Hessian mercenaries during the Revolutionary War. It was
first reported attacking small grain on Long Island in 1779. By 1845 it was causing damage in Georgia and
has remained a sporadic pest of wheat in the South. Hessian fly can cause economic injury anywhere in
South Carolina, but fields in the southern Coastal Plain usually have greater risk.

Annual damage exceeded $4 million dollars in several outbreaks from 1984 -1989. Contributing factors for severe infestation include use of a susceptible variety, early planting, unusually warm Nov. – Dec. weather, reduced tillage into wheat stubble, volunteer wheat, and lack of rotation. Hessian fly attacks wheat, triticale, barley, and rye in that order of damage severity. Oats are not affected."

[2] Poulson's American Daily Advertiser.; Date: 07-28-1812; Volume: XLI; Issue: 11131; Page: [2]; Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Transcribed by John Peter Thompson, July 23rd, 2013.

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