Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, Is Often Recommended As A Cure For Wireworm In Potatoes. Does Buckwheat Reduce Wireworms Infestations? Here’s The Research.

Buckwheat is sometimes grown as a cover crop to suppress weeds, improve soil health, and to reduce wireworm infestations. But Does Buckwheat Reduce Wireworms Infestations?

Does Buckwheat Reduce Wireworms Infestations?
Oil seed rape grown with buckwheat companion planting

In gardening there is a lot of myth without the backing of science. But in this case there is some science.

According to Brandl MA, Schumann M, Przyklenk M, Vidal PA, S, (2017) in Wireworm damage reduction in potatoes with an attract-and-kill strategy using Metarhizium brunneum Journal of Pest Science 90:479–493, there are 10,000 wireworm species. They variously attack potatoes, carrot, onion, swede, etc and though much of the damage is cosmetic their feeding tunnels act as a point off entry to bacteria and other disease causing organisms,

Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles and have a long life cycle. The female beetle lays her eggs in the soil in spring. The hatched larvae then eat organic matter such as the roots of crops. Then, in autumn, the larvae burrow deep into the soil to overwinter before returning to ne the surface in spring to feed again. This part of their life cycle, depending on the species, can take from 2-5 years!

Does Buckwheat Reduce Wireworms Infestations?

Christine NoronhaSuqi LiuMd. Habibullah Bahar & Natasha Mosher-Gallant conducted field studies (often far better an indicator than laboratory studies), where they investigated the impact of buckwheat on wireworms in potato crops after two years of consecutive cropping. They identified the mechanism that underlies the suppressant action of buckwheat on wireworm. Apparently, in the presence of buckwheat the newly hatched wireworm had a smaller head capsule and reduced body weight compared with those feeding on barley. The survival rate on buckwheat was also greatly reduced.

Long-term feeding on buckwheat roots caused reduced weight gain, abnormal growth, and reduced survival. This study provided a better understanding of how buckwheat functions as a biopesticide for wireworm control and its potential for use in an IPM program.


Buckwheat For Human Consumption

According to Wei buckwheat has been grown in China for human consumption for at least 10,000 years. It is classified as a pseudo-cereal that can also be consumed by livestock and used as. a weed suppressant or green manure. So growing it for one of these reasons would also provide wireworm suppression as a side effect. That’s win win.

Though I’m not a great believer in crop rotation being necessary in garden situations (it applies far more in agriculture where grazing is also applied), it seems to me that should you suffer wireworm issues then growing some buckwheat makes sense.

In the UK buckwheat is now often increasingly grown as a cover crop in Oil Seed Rape where it decreases lea beetle attacks. So farming and gardening could follow a similar path here! By growing buckwheat.

Buckwheat and Weed Control

Gfeller et al examined weed control due to buckwheat exudates. Buckwheat is reputed to have weed suppressing ability and the work examines which weeds are suppressed by root interaction an d in circumstances where the roots couldn’t commingle.

Tag: Does Buckwheat Reduce Wireworms Infestations?
Image attribution: V.Boldychev, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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