Bermudagrass stem maggots will determine whether Alabama hay grower Thomas Ridgeway raises his bermudagrass hay prices in 2014. If this past winter’s cold weather kept the pest in check, he’ll forego an increase. But if he’s forced to use an insecticide frequently, his customers could see a price hike.

“It’s something we had never dealt with here before last year,” he says. That’s when the maggots showed up on about 20 acres of his second-cutting bermudagrass.

“Because we don’t know that much about them yet, we’re not sure if they survived through the winter. If they’re still here, we’ve been told we’ll probably have to spray for them twice at each cutting.”

Last year, he used a low-cost insecticide for control. “But if we have to spray (frequently), it will still mean more trips across the field with the tractor and using more fuel. We’ll have to adjust our prices accordingly.”

Ridgeway puts up 84 acres of bermudagrass into small squares, selling mostly to horse owners within 100 miles of his Circle R Farms, near Fyffe. He net-wraps large round bales of cool-season grass hay on another 600 acres. They go to beef producers.

He managed to hold the line on prices this past season and sold out two months ago. For barn-stored small squares, he charged $5/bale; his large rounds brought $50/roll.

To reach Ridgeway, call 256-601-6120 or email satch_a_mo@yahoo.com.

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